Divine Divinity

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Divine Divinity
The CD insert for Divine Divinity.
Developer(s) Larian Studios
Publisher(s) CDV, Snowball Studios
Distributor(s) Steam (online)
GOG.com (online)
Composer(s) Kirill Pokrovsky
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) September 22, 2002
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution CD, DVD, download

Divine Divinity is a single-player fantasy role-playing video game created by Larian Studios, released on September 22, 2002. It has a spin-off,[1] Beyond Divinity, and a sequel, Divinity II: Ego Draconis.

Plot[edit]

Two thousand years before the game begins, those who sat on Council of Seven in the magic land Rivellon sacrificed themselves in the fight against a group of treacherous magicians, who had passed over to the dark side of magic.[2] To remember the Council of Seven, the "Divine Order" was founded to pass on the knowledge of the wise men to the next generations.

At the beginning of the game, the player wakes up in a house in Aleroth, the town of healers. It is revealed that Mardaneus, leader of the healers, has gone crazy, and the player is asked to help by traveling into the catacombs beneath the town to stop the undead mage Thelyron, who is driving Mardaneus mad. Once Thelyron is put to rest, Mardaneus appears to bring the player back to the surface.

With the crisis in Aleroth resolved, the player leaves to explore, and is ambushed by a dragon rider, but is saved by the appearance of the wizard Zandalor, who explains that the player is one of three Marked Ones, and asks the player to meet him at an inn. Shortly thereafter, the other two Marked Ones are discovered dead, leaving only the player. The player is invited to come to Castle Stormfist, home of Duke Janus, a young noble who claims to be the Divine, a messiah prophesied to protect Rivellon against the summoning of the demon Chaos. The player is forced to do menial tasks for Janus, and no matter what they do, they end up in a dungeon, and have to fight their way out.

Once free, Zandalor takes the player to where the Council of Seven met, and explains that in order to find the real Divine, the heirs to the Council of Seven have to be brought together. In doing so, the player learns more about the way events have been manipulated by the Black Ring, the evil organization dedicated to bringing the demon Chaos back to Rivellon; the orcs have been goaded into attacking humans, and the elves and dwarves are poised at the brink of war, until the player reveals the manipulation going on.

As the new council members assemble to complete the ritual that will turn the player into the Divine, Duke Janus appears, revealing himself to be the Demon of Lies, in league with the Black Ring and seeking to summon Chaos. The council is attacked and a number of the members slain, along with the player. The player returns to life, however, with new abilities as the Divine, and is able to reach the fortress where the Black Ring is summoning Chaos. The Divine defeats Janus, but finds a baby on the summoning altar, and carries the baby out in their arms.

While exploring a dimly-lit sewer system, the male warrior character runs into a massed attack of lizardmen Warriors and assassins. The character statistics and equipment windows are open. In the upper left is the auto-map window.

Gameplay[edit]

Divine Divinity is an action role-playing game with a top-down camera angle and controlled primarily through the mouse. A significant inspiration for its gameplay was Diablo, with which Divine Divinity shares a number of gameplay features. Both games are focused on hack and slash combat in a similar interface, have random equipment generation, and a wide set of skills organized into types.

Unlike Diablo, Divine Divinity features a significant amount of computer role-playing game elements as well, such as branching conversation trees, non-combat skills like lockpicking, pickpocketing, and bartering, and a reputation and disposition system to track how NPCs will react to the player.

The game also incorporates point-and-click elements which allows the player to move and manipulate certain items in the world. For example, a barrel can be clicked and dragged to move it, revealing that a key is underneath it, or a hay bale can be clicked to spread it out and provide a bed for the player to rest.

The skill system, which would become a staple in later Divinity games, allows a character of any starting class to learn any skill.[3] The system of attributes is also open-ended, allowing the player to develop their character in any direction regardless of their initial class.[4]

Development[edit]

An early version of the isometric game engine was used by Larian Studios for its very first project, Unless: The Treachery of Death, in 1996. Larian Studios was about to sign a publishing deal with Atari, but it didn't come to be as Atari announced its departure from the PC platform.[5] Soon after Attic Entertainment Software joined Larian and Unless was turned into The Lady, the Mage and the Knight, a game set in the universe of The Dark Eye. Due to financial problems between the two development studios and its publisher, Infogrames, The Lady, the Mage and the Knight was canceled in July 1999.[6]

Divine Divinity development started in early 1999[5] codenamed Project C and later Divinity: The Sword of Lies. The publisher forced Larian to change the name to Divine Divinity from Divinity: The Sword of Lies.[7]

The game was re-released in 2004 along with Beyond Divinity as a part of Beyond Divinity: Deluxe Edition. In 2009 a remastered version of Divine Divinity was released as a download on GOG.com, the main change being support for higher resolutions.[8]

In 2012 it was noticed that the source code of the remastered version 1.4 was lost because of a backup failure. Later released Digital Distribution versions are therefore based on the older 1.29 source code and incorporate less bugfixes than the last retail version 1.34a.[9]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 8.6[10]
IGN 8.5[11]

The game received generally positive reviews, with most critics praising its storyline and depth. GameSpot gave it 8.6/10, saying that "There's much more to Divine Divinity than its impressive graphics and music and its combination of hack-and-slash action and pure role-playing, and that says a lot for the game."[10]

While IGN gave the game 8.5,[11] saying of it, in summary, that "Divine Divinity is a very easy game to get into and enjoy. It lacks anything memorable, like the party NPCs with minds and dialog of their own in Baldur's Gate 2, but it has atmosphere, tons of quests, and a great deal of variety to offer. Above all, it's plain fun to play, to develop your character and find ever-better weapons and armor, to face the foe around the next corner. And who knows...? With Bioware's assets tied up in light sabers and Black Isle Studios working on a game that has no strategic pause mode, perhaps Larian will step forward to carry the CRPG banner in the near future. We could do a lot worse."[11]

RPG Vault gave Divine Divinity the award for Outstanding Achievement in Music. They said, "It very proficiently supports the changing moods and locations in the game, never becoming either overwhelming or repetitive."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Beyond Divinity for Windows". MobyGames. Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ The Prophecy, Pre-story to Divine Divinity
  3. ^ Locus Inn Divine Divinity index page, including links to each of the skill paths
  4. ^ Divine Divinity FAQ, character section
  5. ^ a b "Divinity, The Sword of Lies Interview". IGN RPG Vault. 2000-03-22. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  6. ^ Swen Vincke (2001-04-30). "The truth about LMK". statement. Larian Studios. Archived from the original on 2001-08-15. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  7. ^ "Re: More Blood and Gore ? [Re: GabeN]". larian.com. Archived from the original on 22 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  8. ^ forum post announcing the download version
  9. ^ Vincke, Swen (2012-10-09). "Hatching the Anthology". Larian Studios. Retrieved 2013-01-18. "The first problem with the release of the Anthology occurred back in April when we couldn’t find back the “remastered” source code that we used to re-release Divine Divinity on GOG back in 2009. It turned out that the programmer who since then left Larian hadn’t made a correct backup of the code, and at that time we didn’t have anything in place to check the backups." 
  10. ^ a b "Divine Divinity Review". GameSpot. Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Brenesal, Barry. "Divine Divinity - PC Review". IGN UK. Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  12. ^ "2002 RPG Vault Awards". IGN RPG Vault. 2003-01-13. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 

External links[edit]