A divine boxed set.
Way back in 1996, a team of videogame enthusiasts, who called themselves the Larian Empire, started developing a game called Ragnarok Unless. Now, in 2012, the group are known as Larian Studios and they are celebrating 10 years of the wonderful Divinity RPG series. The journey, which took them from what was nothing more than a hobby, to creating one of the most-loved RPG series, is something that you can read about in the Developer’s Journal which is included with the Divine Anthology, a limited run collector’s set of the three games in the Divinity series, along with a host of other goodies.
Now, I am easily sold on Collector’s Editions of games. My shelf is crumbling under the weight of big, impressive boxed sets and their associated collectibles. But there is something even more special about a collection that brings together all of the games in a series. The Divinity Anthology includes the original Divine Divinity, from way back in 2002, Beyond Divinity and the much more recent Divinity II: Developer’s Cut. Each of these games is an epic RPG in their own right, but bringing them all together not only will provide the owner with many, many hours of gameplay, but will also show just how much the game has changed over the years.
In the first game, Divine Divinity, players are introduced to an already rich world of Rivellon and are, as is the case in so many fantasy RPGs, given a character who is destined to save the world from evil. As the player makes their way along this path to being a hero of legend, they can take on quests to further extend the game and improve their character before the final battle. The combat in Divine Divinity has more than a passing resemblance to the Diablo-style dungeon crawling games, but works really well within the 2D environment. And of the environment – the world of Rivellon is absolutely stunning, incredibly interactive and teeming with life and lore. A game from 2002 may well be considered “retro” by today’s standards, but Divine Divinity still holds up as being a highly entertaining RPG that any fan of the genre should play.
Just two years later, Beyond Divinity mixed things up a little by offering the player two characrters to control, with a servant of the Divine One being soul-bound to an evil Death Knight. Beyond Divinity is set some 20 years after the original game, and takes more of a sideways step rather than being a sequel. Whilst there was very little improvement in the visuals of this game over the last, the gameplay was improved somewhat by the occasional tweak, and the introduction of Battlefields, where players are teleported to an area containing merchants and dungeons for the sake of leveling up and improving one’s character, was welcome. Once again, Beyond Divinity is a pretty huge game and has a level of difficulty that will prove a challenge to most players.
Jump forward a fair few years and you get Divinity II, the true sequel to Divine Divinity. This time around the RPG action takes on a much more “Oblivion” style of gameplay. When it was first released as Divinity II: Ego Draconis, it was plagued with problems and, as a result, received a less than warm welcome. However, Larian Studios are never ones to rest and the subsequent release of Divinity II: Dragon Knight Saga not only added even more content to an already massive game, but also fixed many of the problems that the release had first time around.The game has an amazing depth, with fast-paced combat, well-rewarded exploration and even the chance to turn into a Dragon every so often. A dragon!
But the version included in the Divinity Anthology is not your regular Dragon Knight Saga. For this celebratory collector’s edition, Larian Studios have included the Developer’s Cut of Divinity II, which not only includes the Ultimate edition of the game, but also a Developer Mode which allows the player to channel the power of the developer. Gain access to console commands that will let the player tinker, tweak and outright mess with the game in so many ways.
Each of these three games are included in the Divinity Anthology boxed set, both on disc and in the form of Steam codes, which seems incredibly generous. Alongside these three games, which are guaranteed to entertain for hundreds of hours, and the previously mentioned Developer’s Journal, which makes for a damn fine read, the owner of this boxed set will also get two soundtrack CDs, Musica Obscura and Musica Divina, containing both classic and unreleased melodies from the series. There is also a pair of rather fine posters and a sheet of stickers, perfect for adorning a laptop of PC tower.
To round out this glorious collection, there are a couple of things that will likely get any fans of the series drooling in anticipation. There are a pair of codes offering unique DLC items for the upcoming Divinity Dragon Commander, combining action with both role-playing and real time strategy elements, and Divinity Original Sin, an isometric RPG adventure with turn-based combat. Both of these games are due in 2013 and the DLC codes are for items that can only be obtained within the Anthology.
The Divinity Anthology is a masterful collection. Not only does it let the RPG fan experience the past, but it also looks to the future of the series with unique trinkets for upcoming games. If you have ever played and enjoyed a Role-Play Game on your PC, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this boxed set, not only for the hours of gameplay and the amazing content found within, but also because Larian Studios are only doing a limited run and once they are all gone…well, not even turning into a Dragon and rage burning your local game store will get you a copy.