Has the Nintendo Switch become just a re-release machine? Maybe it has but if the games they’re re-releasing are always going to be as good as Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition (D:OS2), then I’m game. The game is exciting. The story, or more accurately, the stories are riveting. Simply put, it’s just fun. It’s a great return to turn based combat mixed with adventure RPG play and a big splash of “choose your own adventure.” I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Not since I accidentally killed off important characters in the Banner Saga franchise have I felt that my choices really mattered in an RPG like they do in D:OS2. A great example of this is that I restarted the game twice. The first time was because it was so hard that I had to set the difficulty a bit lower. I’m not ashamed to admit that coming from a JRPG background, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into the first go-around. The second time I restarted was because I had made a choice early in the game that caused me to be unable to walk anywhere without being randomly attacked. I became known as a thug around the island and people wanted to kill me. Apparently, killing everyone you meet just because you can is both a huge waste of resources and makes everyone upset.
On the topic of resources, choices for how to use what you collect makes a big impact in gameplay. There is limited storage and being overburdened can cause you to be slower. Additionally, I never quite knew early on what to expect out of the items I had in inventory. This was in part because I only knew how to craft minor healing potions but mostly because I knew using something for one party member might result in another dying later. When precious commodities like this healing potions were so few and far between, I couldn't use them to hall up for fights I didn't really need. Wasting resources to fight with every person I encountered proved not to be the best use of what I had. It makes an already brutally difficult game even more difficult.
When I say brutally difficult, please don't hear that as "a bit hard." D:OS2 is quite literally in the top 5 of the hardest games I have ever played. When I first chose my difficulty, I was tricked into thinking the difficulty would be normal because there was settings for experienced players, a classic mode for promoting balance, and a story mode that took the difficulty out...supposedly. In reality, the game is so hard that even the no difficulty story mode made me want to rip my hair out at times say nothing of how resource management didn't care that I was on easy mode!
Your choices matter right at the beginning. With multiple choices of origin characters or the ability to create your own, the very story changes based on who you are. As The Red Prince you are on a quest to become the Emperor despite having been banished for dealing with demons. Sebille is trying to find vengeance against a slave master who forced her using magic to hunt her own kind. Every story is unique and yours to take control of within Divinity. I found it exciting to play an outlaw. I also found it very quickly to be foolish to play an outlaw. I’m excited to start again because thanks to the many different story and character options, Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition has incredibly high replay value.
Origin characters, like The Red Prince and Sebille, are also available as companions. When you play the game solo, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your party and collect other members to join you in your quest. This is important because maybe you’d prefer to not have a set story from the Origin characters and would like to lose yourself in character creation. I love a good character creation tool and the tool in D:OS2 is very good. Players can customize everything about their character including the voice. Your character can be the truest representation of you or something completely outlandish. After creating from scratch a character completely of your own design, you’ll still get to experience stories from the Origin characters by traveling with them.
For the purposes of this review, I played D:OS2 on the Nintendo Switch. The Switch really has become the hub stop for all RPGs. Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition is a great addition to that line-up. Because it’s a hybrid of so many styles of RPGs, it caters and appeals to a wide audience of RPG lovers. The idea of taking what is considered to be a pinnacle PC RPG experience on the go is a nice addition to my personal gaming style. This means I won’t miss out on arguably one of the better RPGs in recent memory thanks to my choice to play mostly on Switch.
But how does the Divinity experience hold up on the platform? Surprisingly well.. As someone who primarily plays in hand-held mode, I was glad to see that it was handling well without being up on the TV. Notably, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was completely unplayable in hand-held mode, often only achieving resolutions of 360p. The performance of D:OS2 was not as great as the PC version of the game. That was not a surprise. Digital Foundry clocked the top docked resolution at 720p and the top handheld resolution at 648p. The game is only achieving 30 fps on the Switch begging the question: “Is it really a definitive edition at sub 60 fps and less than HD resolutions?”
A concern I had with the game being on the Switch was all the text I had been reading. Would I be spending all my time squinting just to read while playing docked? The user-interface was surprisingly clean and despite the lower resolutions, I found myself able to play easily in both hand-held and docked mode. Because of this, at worst, the problems with the resolution caused some blurriness. There was some frame-rate drops during battles but there wasn’t anything too hard to overcome.
My biggest gripe with the version that made its way to the Nintendo Switch is the multi-player. On every other console and on the PC, split screen local co-op exists. The Nintendo Switch version, on the other hand, only has online multi-player. So, if you spend $60 on the game, and 3 other people you know spend $60 on the game, you can play together separately. Even if you’re in the same room, you’ll have to connect online. The decision not to include something as basic as local co-op came off to me as ill informed and even asinine. Instead of making this a game that myself and my teenage son can enjoy together or a group of friends while they hang out totally not eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew, separate copies of the game have to be purchased and played on separate Switches. I simply don’t get it.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is as close to a masterpiece as I could ask for. The turn based choose your own adventure RPG scratches an itch that no other game could possibly scratch. It plays well on the Nintendo Switch despite hiccups with the performance and a glaring multi-player issue. I encourage anyone looking for an RPG on the Nintendo Switch to consider giving this one a shot. Just remember, the choices are all yours.
- Your choices matter and that makes for a unique to the player experience.
- With multiple characters to choose from with their own stories, the game has a great replay value.
- The Nintendo Switch gives D:OS2 a life wherever you go. Portable gaming for the win!
- Performance issues can take away from how beautiful this game really is because of hardware limitations on the Switch.
- The absence of local co-op on the Switch was a huge misstep. Hopefully one that can be corrected in later patches to the game.
- Resource management should reflect the difficulty mode the game is set on instead of being a matter of using immense strategy at any difficulty level.
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.