There is something strangely familiar about the recently release Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga, something which I can’t quite put my finger on but it seems like we’ve seen this all before. Oh wait we have! Divinity 2 was originally released on the current generation back in late 2009, and it would seem that after some mediocre review scores the developers decided to try re-releasing their game, along with a bunch of fixes and a lot of expansion, a year later. A unique and rarely considered approach, but somewhat intriguing particularly for a title which was mainly criticised for technical shortcomings and missed opportunities.
Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga has you retracing the events of the original release, and then having the option to jump into the follow up expansion (released separately, or as this bundle, on the PC) that promises equal length and depth as the original. Whilst I never did have a chance to play the original release, research indicates that the team have overcome a lot of technical pitfalls and managed to deliver a perfectly playable and stable game this time around. Those already in love with the original dreaming of the chance for more stability can stop reading here and go out and make the purchase as Dragon Knight Saga looks set to tick all their boxes, for everyone else read on.
The story of Dragon Knight Saga is set in the magical world of Rivellon, playing the role of a Dragon Slayer at the early stages of their initiation rituals to become a fully-fledged member. Once complete, these rituals will have you searching for and killing Dragon Knights of the world, beings who have the ability to turn into Dragons and hated by the world for having killed the Divine hero of Rivellon. A few hours into the game’s campaign you’ll hit a turning point that’ll blur the lines of blame between the Slayers and the Knights, have you bestowed with the powers of a Dragon Knight and reveal a greater threat to the world. Now standing as one of the last surviving Dragon Knights you are the hunter and the hunted, requiring to save the world and save yourself at the same time. This story, once concluded, is then taken further in the game’s expansion (selectable at the game’s main menu).
Over the course of the two games you’ll be spending between 50 to 100 hours, depending on how much of a completionist you are, exploring the world of Rivellon aiding those in need, gathering and crafting items of use and following the game’s story – but mostly you’ll be killing enemies. Waves and waves and waves of enemies. A lot of open world RPG games of this nature give you a bit of breathing room in the amount of potential experience available at each location, letting you do as little as a quarter of available content before safely moving on to the next, slightly higher level area. Divinity 2 doesn’t do breathing room. I found that no matter what the difficulty level was, the game required you to literally complete every piece of available content, getting every ounce of experience before moving on, or you’ll face an unsurpassable struggle. Yet by doing every quest, side objective and even going as far to rid the enemies from every area I still found the game to be of a fierce difficulty that’ll hugely appeal to the hardcore RPG fans, but equally scare the hell out of the timid gamers. Unlike its greatest comparison, Oblivion, encounters and items aren’t scaled along with your character so you have the beauty of exploration, and the all so very important risk and reward. Visiting a side cave in an unexplored area may result in a bounty that’ll double your damage output, but in turn put you against foes twice your level.
The game plays like a hybrid between Oblivion and Dragon Age, with fast paced melee, spell and range based combat from a third-person perspective. Having had some hands-on time with the yet to be released more action targeted Dragon Age 2 there are some clear comparisons that can be made, and they certainly fit like a glove on the console platform keeping you engaged during combat, needing to block, evade and attack in conjunction with the enemy’s attacks. You’re given the d-pad and four face buttons to bind abilities from a spellbook of many (that grows as the game progresses) and can customise the game’s play style to your preference. Opting to play as the ranger I found most fights had me jumping and flipping around my enemy trying my best to avoid taking any damage as, depending on their level, a few hits could clear out my entire health gauge.
Dragon Knight Sage is developed on the Gamebryo engine meaning that anyone who has played the ever popular Fallout titles, or more fittingly Oblivion, will know the potential for beauty such an engine has, and the clear limitations. The game looks somewhat out-dated right from the offset, fitting a title from early in the generation’s span but unfortunately at this point everything’s looking a little drab. That’s not to say the game doesn’t have its moments, with idyllic views over the game’s landscape, demonstrating the game’s capable draw distance or the stylised enemies you encounter. As is common with the engine its prominent issue, load times, is very present. As you progress further through the game the load times seem to increase to unbearable levels, having to go from house-to-house during a quest requires you to endure a load screen, potentially of up to a minute each. The world may be segmented into several areas but is no less vast, taking considerable time to run from one end to the next, or eventually fly, meaning that it’s only the camp site, dungeon and village portions of the world map that suffer.
Looking beyond the game’s graphical gripes, or hearing beyond, the game’s audio is fantastic and has great audio tracks throughout, fitting for bustling cities or damp dark dungeons, helping to add to the atmosphere perfectly. This is especially apparent in villages where background chatter is present, demonstrating some of the game’s great voice acting that you’ll no doubt be trawling through as you progress through streams and streams of spoken quest text.
Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga is an RPG of a scale and scope that console gamers have been lusting for ever since Oblivion, and whilst the likes of Risen and Gothic have attempted to quench this they haven’t hit the mark quite as much as this experienced re-release has. With Two Worlds II just around the corner, RPG goers are spoilt for choice and won’t go wrong giving Dragon Knight Saga a look during this Christmas period.