Review by Skinny Minnie and Jen
Retro Role-Playing ... Crushing Crashes ... Double Trouble
... Divine Divinity ...
I am always a sucker for an old-school dungeon crawl. However,
if I had put a screenshot of Divine Divinity onto my desktop,
I would have seen more of it. It crashed back to Windows XP, sometimes
several times an hour, throughout 70% of the game. I never run
programs in the background of my Athlon XP/All in Wonder Radeon
9700 Pro rig, and I even swapped CDs at the store and then deleted
and reinstalled the game, along with trying one or both of the
two patches. Nothing helped. Four out of five WinXP DD players
I polled had similar crashing issues. Most of us also encountered
areas where random enemies would oddly disappear and reappear
in the same spots, too (even patched). Okay, finebut I should
have had a free, unlimited invisibility spell at my disposal too!
Divine Divinity's compulsory combat is of the standard,
mouse-clicking D RPG nature (you know: Diablo, Diablo
II, Darkstone, Dungeon
Siege, etc.), except that there is no multiplayer, and
only one playable character can be chosen among the three character
classes. There isn't even a long-term, auto-piloted sidekick available.
Moreover, there are neither 3D environments nor modern camera
controls (such as Dungeon Siege's rolling 360-degree rotational
view and zooming), although Divine Divinity is a late-2002
You must begin this computer RPG as a stealthy Survivor, a melee-effective
Warrior, or a magic-wielding Wizard, but you may adopt skills
from either of the other two classes at will sans penalty (once
you earn skill points to apply to those traits by killing droves
of dastardly demons and leveling up). This multiple-skill flexibility
probably is one of Divine Divinity's strongest features.
Warriors, those front-line combatants who are traditionally out
of luck in long-distance fighting, can easily add ranged spell
attacks from the Wizard's repertoire. My own favorite, Meteorstrike,
plus Hell Spikes, Deadly Discs, and Elemental Bolt are just a
few of the choices, although some require your character to have
a certain level of fight experience before use.
There are even spells natively available to a Warrior such as
Repair, which fixes damaged armor and weaponry. (I never upgraded
this spell because it would bring my hardware back to 60% usability
even when cast at level one, and I only had to pause occasionally
to repair things when my equipment icon would turn yellow, indicating
something was damaged.) There are other worthwhile, earnable Warrior
spells such as Enchant Weapon, which allows permanent magic to
be cast on weapons and armor that can be charmed. These items
then increase the bearer's strength, constitution, mana or vitality.
Moreover, many subset Ranger (archer) traits can also be chosen
with earned skill points to improve sight and missile weapon accuracy
or to provide special arrow attacks; they are natively part of
the Warrior path as well. (I've never been able to get into bows
and arrows myself, though. Doink, doink, doink from ten miles
away just doesn't cut it for me in a heated, combative gaming
Fire, poison and lightning damage can also be added to every
melee strike. Certain skills like these from every class (including
a backstabbing maneuver for the Survivor's daggers) are passive
once points are initially applied to them, meaning that they permanently
remain active and improve every assault. The other two classes
can also adopt Warrior traits as the Warrior may adopt theirs.
The Survivor's Identify skill is especially handy, as it can separate
the wheat from the chaff away from the few town areas where merchants
can be paid to determine the value and specs of items you are
carrying. I put five of my ballpark 40 earned skill points throughout
the game into this skill, and I was almost always able to toss
weaker armor and weapons on the fly, while holding on to the stronger
ones for later use or better trades in town shops.
Packs, Hacks, and Heart Attacks
Hordes of skeletons, orcs, thugs, devils, trolls, ghosts, leech-like
undead and their ilk will all rush you from everywhere once you
leave the first safe town. There are even vampires rampaging about!
However, if a group seems overwhelming for your current power
level, there are teleporters sprinkled about the expansive map
areas that, once activated initially by collecting the appropriate
scrolls from NPCs, will allow for quick escapes to safe towns
or calmer turf. Moreover, there are two pyramid stones that you
will have at times which offer hurried transport as well. There
aren't a great number of bosses, and many of those there are seem
diminished in size and strength compared to other hack-and-slash
RPGs. I played 90% of the game in melee style and even when my
Warrior was surrounded, she survived via a native "special
move" where she could spin her axe, mace, or sword in a circle
and fell a whole swarm of baddies at once.
It isn't until the ending campaigns that your character's level
36 feels more like an IQ, unless you resort to more tactical,
lure-em-out-and-pick-em-off or long-distance strategies. You will
also be glad if you have purchased or found limited Shadows and
creature statuette spells which allow brief periods of invisibility
or morphing into animals for quick escapes.
These single-player campaigns of demonic destruction undulate
between NPC-dictated quests that your lone character must accomplish.
As in any given RPG, experience points are earned for the successful
completion of each, and level-ups occur after so many points accumulate,
allowing chosen characteristics to be increased or added to your
The Best of the Quests, Plus the Rest
Quests, which are largely item-gathering fests, begin interestingly
enough, albeit within the super-stereotypical saga of sudden satanic
calamity. You must heal the town's head mage who has inexplicably
gone insane, and later you must find a way to clone a magic, health-inducing
gem so two dying NPCs can be saved. Nevertheless, errands eventually
degrade into multitudes of unrelated, uninspiring inventory runs
missing only a medieval UPS truck. Bring this message to the general.
Grab me that spell. Hoof halfway across the countryside to get
me that new wheel for my cart. Bring me a pillow. Oops, that was
my own personal questsorry! Most of these dungeon crawlers
get bogged down with boring quests at one point or another, and
this is a long game even compared to some other RPGs, so I guess
I forgive it to a degree.
Picked up goodies themselves contain the usual suspects. Gold
(for merchant trading in towns), health vials, mana (spell-casting
fuel), and lots of lower-end armor and weaponry are mixed with
the only occasionally found spell or higher-quality piece. Towns,
as in many RPGs, are too few, so many items wind up tossed for
lack of carrying space or teleport abilities, depending on what
point you are at in the game. These are common RPG dilemmas, though.
A Review of the View
Divine Divinity is pretty despite offering dated, slightly
grainy 2D backdrops. Spell effects aren't spectacular, but flames
nicely crackle then flare up in wall torches and water ripples
elegantly in outdoor scenes. Forested landscapes and rambling
farmlands do cycle through day and nighttimes, while churches
are elegantly medieval and soldier barracks suitably imposing.
Underground crypts, sewers and caves don't impart Diablo II's
level of bloody ambiance or Dungeon Siege's ice-and-crystal
shimmer, but the potentially ever-present minimap is just as useful.
DD's automap feature is a humongous, full-screen, grab-and-move
jobber that allows for custom flagged notes and quick perusal
of all areas conquered and not. There are also icons for the quest
log and hero characteristics there, but even with the automap
closed, inventory, skills, weapons and current equipment icons
are only mouse clicks away downscreen. Easy keyboard shortcut
hints are reinforced via text into your subconscious every time
you load a save, telling you, for instance, to hold down the shift
key and move the mouse to the screen's edges to peruse surrounding
areas. Then you may click where you want to be and your character
will find his or her way there.
The scant voiceovers are good for the most part, but conversations
typically play out in text-driven RPG style. Although there are
typos in the written dialogs, the comments themselves are often
funny or sarcastic, something long overdue in traditional RPGs.
Even some of the load-game screen comments are humorous! As this
very long game goes on there are a few jerky translations here
and there, but speeches are never big and shortcutting through
them is easy. The music is uniformly excellent, blending the timeless,
new-age quality of other, similar games with a positive glow of
Overall, my worst complaint about Divine Divinity is with
its crashing issues, followed perhaps by a whine that the game
feels like it should end before it really does. A late-game swamp
area is unique in that your character must learn to morph into
a ghost to get across it, but in the final battle against the
evil deity, Mini Minnie had to assist me by pumping health and
mana potions into my Warrior via programmable keyboard shortcuts
for my ultimate success. Although combat isn't revolutionary by
far, it is addictive and fun nonetheless, and the perpetual RPG
rewards of constant gold, spells, and equipment egg the player
on even though it doesn't offer Diablo II: Lord of Destruction's
higher level of customizable, powerful weaponry, spells, skills
and armor. I do award DD a hesitant thumb up for its flexibility
and ease of use, plus its addictiveness and hip humor, with the
hope that a newer patch will soon be released to address the "Desktop
Unlike Minnie, I had very few crashing issues. I played under
Windows 2000 on my aging desktop system, a 733 MHz PIII. Throughout
the course of this 100-hour-plus game I had maybe eight or ten
crashes back to the desktop, which I thought was reasonable. I
did load the Hotpatch 2 before I began, which was the most up-to-date
available at the time (maybe still is ...) and includes the
fixes found in the Hotpatch 1.
Outside of my last round of Zelda-ing back on the SNES,
I am completely inexperienced with this type of game. I think
that led me to do some things I was not "supposed" to
do. For instance, whereas Minnie ditched all of the subpar booty
she earned, I took all but the worst of it and teleported back
to a shop and dropped it on the ground as a stockpile for future
trading. Thus I almost never needed to spend money on potions
or other goodies when I could just pick up excess weapons and
armor from my pile and carry them into the shop with me for trading
When I was presented with the character-type choice, I picked
the female Wizard because I thought it would be fun to do magic
instead of all fighting all the time. It did not take me long
to learn that I could choose new skills out of any of the three
categories, like Minnie said. But I did wind up sticking mostly
to "my" skill category; my second-favorite skill set
was the Survivor's, which included Lockpick and Alchemy.
My Wizard chick's "special move" was a spiffy backflip-to-the-other-side-of-the-room
maneuver. I used it exactly never.
Each skill or spell has five levels. Each time you level up you
get a skill point to spend as you please, either on a new talent
or on improving a talent you already have. From time to time you
can purchase a new spell from a shopkeeper, and other times you
might find weapons or armor that have a skill or two built into
I have a feeling that, due to my inexperience, I did a lot more
of the side quests than Minnie didit took me a long time
to figure out that I didn't have to do everything.
There was plenty of fighting, but it didn't take long for my
character to become powerful enough that she could just stand
back and collect experience points as summoned netherworldy creatures
did her fighting for her. And when these creatures eventually
became too weak (not until the very end of the game) to do much
good, I had a huge arsenal of spells at my disposal. Three of
these were my favorites, though, and I only resorted to trying
others on the rare occasions when these three had little or no
The overarching story of the game is your standard one-person-saving-the-world-from-chaos
theme. Pretty thin stuff to be sure, but the many varied side
quests offered glimpses into the lives of the game world's inhabitants.
Like Minnie said, basically you are playing UPS driver, but finding
the items to be delivered presents some puzzling challenges.
I really liked the fact that the monsters never respawn; once
an area is clear it stays clear. This helped to lessen the overall
ratio of fighting to questing, although I still felt like I spent
about 98% of my time killing one thing or another, sometimes en
masse. The no-respawning did have one drawbacklate in the
game when I felt like I needed to level up a time or two to earn
new skills that I wanted, I could not find anything left to kill.
Divine Divinity has six bosses, all but the last of whom
you must defeat twice each over the course of the game. Only one
of these bosses posed any challenge at all, but her level of difficulty
more than made up for the ease of finishing off the rest of them.
The easy boss-killing suited me just fine; given the choice between
a few easy bosses or way too many difficult bosses, a la Final
Fantasy X, of course I'd choose the former.
I had a love/hate relationship with Divine Divinity. I
would find myself hopelessly addicted to playing for days at a
time, then get equally hopelessly bored and quit altogether for
another week or two. Finally, as I neared the end and had had
enough, I finished as many quests as I could in a big burst of
activity and then performed the (I thought) final action that
would take me to the game's finish.
Much to my dismay, that was not the case. There is definitely
too much of a good thing hereby the time I was ready to
put this game behind me and move on to something else, I still
had to spend another full day playing just to reach the "real"
end, and that was with heading straight for the objectivesdo
not pass go, do not collect $200, whambamthankyouma'am. And then
after all of the hours I spent on this accursed game, the finale
was a big letdown. The endboss was frighteningly easy to kill,
after a whole lotta work in getting there, and the "reward"
cutscene was too short and left too much unanswered.
This disheartening development is the reason for my downgrading
my verdict to a thumb up instead of a gold star. Overall, Divine
Divinity has a lot going for it, especially for the adventure
gamer looking to expand her gaming horizons. I thought the graphics
were nice, the menus and features easy to understand and use even
for this genre newbie, and the gameplay for the most part fun.
(But my opinion is formed, unlike Minnie's, with no basis for
comparisonit was all refreshingly fresh to me.)
Every player will have a different experience with Divine
Divinity. There are literally millions of combinations of
skills and levels of same, and the vast quantity of available
subquests only adds to the possibilities.
Release Date: September 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
PII 450 MHz
128 MB RAM (256 recommended)
DirectX 8 compatible video card with 8 MB RAM and 800x600 resolution
100% DirectSound compatible sound card
4X CD-ROM drive
2.5 GB free hard disk space
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).