In 'Now Playing' PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today, Cory teams up with a buddy to find adventure in Divinity: Original Sin.
"Wait, so how do I join?" I ask. Shawn doesn’t answer, but across the 1,200 miles of our Skype call I can hear him clicking. It takes longer than expected, but eventually we sync up. We’re two source hunters, and we’re on the prowl.
Shawn and I have a long history of cooperative play. We’ve tackled innumerable adventures together, buddying up and beating the crap out of all kinds of monsters. Divinity: Original Sin represents our biggest challenge: a deep, complex, 100-hour RPG with a focus on narrative and communication. Neither of us have played much, and learning it will be a serious commitment.
I build a brute of a knight, adding all my points to strength in the hopes of splitting orcs in half with a greatsword. Shawn balances this with a Wayfarer, which mixes bow skills with healing magic. Neither of us customise these starter builds too deeply, but both spend far too long on how our characters’ hair will look.
We’re in, and almost immediately, we both try to pick up the same sea shells, then experiment with moving them between our inventories. Shawn doesn’t have to be standing right beside me to give me the apple he just liberated from a crate—he right-clicks on the item in his inventory and can simply teleport it to me. I eat it, so I don’t have to give it back.
In typical fashion, Shawn moves ahead faster than I do. While I’m poking around the shoreline, he encounters the game’s first battle and yelps for me to come help. Combat in Divinity is turn-based, but a co-op partner sees things happening in real time. I wander up, but keep my distance as I watch his Wayfarer summon a spider to fight a skeleton. I can move however I want, but his battle’s participants move as if in some bullet-time bubble. It’s odd to watch. Eventually I get too close and get pulled into the battle myself, and we defeat the bad guys.
“So you could have just left me to handle the fight myself? Shawn asks.
“Seems so,” I say. In fact, I could have been a world away.
We encounter two drunken guards who demand to escort us to the city gates. Since Shawn started the conversation with them, I have to watch the dialogue above each person’s head to see what’s going on. Shawn clicks through the options on auto-pilot, and chooses to accompany the guards. And then suddenly, I get a dialogue box of my own, giving me options.
I choose to fight the guards. I’m a contrarian.
“What are you doing?” Shawn asks. “These guys are trying to help us.” He chooses another dialogue option, apparently trying to charm me into his way of thinking.
“Bullshit. Let’s bust some heads.” I click the ‘intimidate’ option, and the game becomes an epic battle of roshambo. I throw paper, he throws rock. I throw rock, he throws scissors. I emerge victorious, and now we have to murder some guards.
“But that’s not what I wanted to do!” Shawn protests. I snigger.
Three hours later, we’re overwhelmed. Every dialogue window requires a recap of the conversation, and every decision ends in the rock-paper-scissors minigame. We’ve made almost no progress.
“You know what? I don’t think we can do this.” Shawn says. His voice breaks a little over the Skype connection. “There’s no way we can commit to this. I’m gonna go play singleplayer.” He signs off, and I go relive the last three hours in a game of my own. I’m sure lots of people will play co-op for all 100 hours of Divinity, and I applaud their devotion. But I’m happier playing at my own speed.