The Divinity franchise includes two full games before Divinity II, thereby automatically lending a very rich backstory full of detail and wonder. Playing these games, however, is not required to gain a full grasp and understanding of the world. The NPCs at the beginning of the game will straight-up tell you what happened, why it matters, and what you should be looking forward to. Furthermore, the game world is littered with fully readable books (just like in Oblivion, sort of similar to the codex entries in Dragon Age) that comprise everything from backstory to quest clues to humorous frivolous entries that grant the world so much more character. Hell, there’s even a book on how necromantic torture may result in some hilarious slapstick comedy.
Indeed, Divinity II
is absolutely full of dark humor. Somehow it all strikes up a perfect balance so that it is effective in comic relief but never feeling like a parody. Most NPCs carry unique personalities with various tics and subtleties, which the voice actors brilliantly pull off. The dialogue is perfectly crafted, the acting refined, and the character animation fluid enough to convey more than the dialogue ever could. Most games lug around the industry buzzword “cinematic.” Divinity II
is, in contrast, “theatrical” in everything that it does. Perhaps it’s merely the infusion of so much British culture that lends it such a unique flavor, but the story of this game is less epic fantasy and more Shakespearean comedy, right down to what are essentially audience asides if you read an NPC’s mind.
What? Mind-reading? Yes, sir, you can read every single NPC’s mind in order to get quest clues, experience, treasure locations, or just humorous thoughts that range from superficial banter to laugh-out-loud moments. Mind-reading will cost you experience points, however, so use it sparingly.
The quests in Divinity II fully reflect the quality of the writing. The main quest requires you to typically find clues on your own by completing side-quests. Though you will encounter many “pointless” quests, most don’t take up much time and will usually tie into the bigger picture in some way. The game isn’t afraid to poke fun at the ones that are a waste of time, whether by having your “consciousness” chastise you or giving you the ability to pick snarky dialogue options to mock the triviality of it all. Most side-quests end up becoming an arc that lasts throughout the map you’re in and possibly beyond. You will never find yourself killing three boars to find a kidney to bake a pie with, rest assured. In keeping in line with the humor of the game most side-quest titles are references to pop culture like “The Temple of Doom,” “Ghostbuster,” and “Red Ore Alert.”
There is always a second or third way to go about a quest and there are absolutely no shortage of choices. In the very first map after the tutorial you can decide the fate of over a dozen NPCs. One of the largest shortfalls of the game, however, is the utter lack of consequences to go with the multitude of choices. In fact, pretty much the only plot-changing consequence is at the endgame. There are also no consequences to the way you talk. You can choose a neutral dialog path and then go straight to asshole without a penalty to NPC disposition.