Following the success of the Original Sin Kickstarter, we figured now was a good opportunity to share some hands-on impressions with a build of the game we tried out. Obviously, none of the Kickstarter stuff is going to be present yet as they’ve only gotten the funding for it, but it’s still good to see where the game is right now, so we can see how it might get better over time. Larian are good people, and we feel it’s important that them and companies like them be allowed to survive, so we’re glad the Kickstarter went well. Original Sin features drop-in/drop-out co-op, although primarily you’ll be playing it solo and controlling two characters at once.
Mind you, Original Sin could be considered a prime example of political correctness getting in the way of genuinely interesting game design. The two characters you (and your friend, if you co-op) play as are actually fully customisable in terms of class, stats, even gender and looks. On the one hand, that’s great, but on the other it spoils the ‘Adam & Eve’ vibe they had going with the narrative. You were originally going to be locked into playing as a man and a women, but it was changed because Larian didn’t think gamers would take too kindly to that. Personally, I’m all for a more diverse range of RPG experiences where it makes sense, but if you have a story that hinges on a key piece of biblical lore – like the fact that Adam & Eve were man and women – then I’m all for keeping things fixed. Hopefully this change won’t have affected things too much. I love it when a writer takes a bible story and creates something interesting from it.
Combining different elemental abilities can create powerful combos, but be careful; they can affect you as well
Still, the whole philosophy behind Original Sin was a real ‘old school’ RPG, and that definitely comes through here. Throw in some nice little twists and changes – like the interactive dialogues between the characters, and the fact that you can roam the lands independently of each other, add a great extra shine to everything. Original Sin’s biggest triumph (or biggest point of contention, depending on what kind of gamer you are, I guess) is the fact that there’s very little prompting in the world. I’m a bit of an explorer myself when it comes to games –always poking through people’s stuff, clicking on anything just to see what happens... but as the years go on, I find that in most modern games, that stuff is basically sign-posted for you. There’s very little point to poking around because you’re unlikely to find anything. In Original Sin though, the thinking is different: while the Quest Log hasn't been fully implemented in this build, it will serve as your only point of reference for what you’ve done so far. You have to actively seek out people, talk to them, click on things, poke around, to find the content of the game. You can find quests and missions in all kinds of places, but you won’t get to experience them if you don’t look around. The main quest and some of the bigger side-quests may be sign-posted slightly, but by and large the game – and the game world- doesn’t tell you what you have to do.
The dialogue system between the two characters isn’t just for show – it can affect special character stats that determine who wins during certain disagreements
Along with exploring the world, we also got a chance to engage in combat. As has already been reported, combat is turn-based (incidentally, the engine is good enough so that turn-based combat can go on in a localised area, while the real-world still runs and exists around it), and it follows the usual conventions you’d expect from turn-based systems. Every character has an order they go in, depending on stats. You have a certain amount of action points (moving, attacking and using abilities all cost action points), and you have to carefully plan your movements and positioning. If you die, your partner can still fight on, but if you both die you respawn back at your nearest ‘home’ point. Even though you only ever have two main characters in your party (or two-people co-oping), you can also hire mercenaries that can accompany you, who you can equip and who also can level up and learn skills. One of the Kickstarter stretch goals was to make these mercenaries into more ‘companion’ like characters, with backstory, quests etc... Also worth reiterating is that the world doesn’t scale to your level – if you enter an area you’re not good enough for, then face the consequences.
As interesting as our hands-on session was, it’s hard to draw any proper conclusions from it – the code we tried wasn’t even alpha, and whilst we had free reign, it was a limited area. Hell, there wasn’t even a bartering system in place yet. There are still a lot of things that aren’t final yet, like the stats system, fleeing a battle etc... Saying that, the game’s off to a good start, and with the Kickstarter campaign falling just shy of $1 million, then we’d be surprised if this game doesn’t live up to expectations. The Kickstarter goals will add everything from new content and quests, to a level editor, and more, so we’re really looking forward to when this game hits Alpha and Beta. At the moment, Larian are aiming for a November release, and the Alpha should hit sometime around the summer. You’ll just have to play Dragon Commander while you wait.
Most Anticipated Feature: Nothing specific just yet – too early for anything to really stand out.