Category: Divinity II: Ego Draconis

Demon's Souls Dragon

This should be your first sign to just turn right around and walk the other direction

It’s not like they are a new company. It’s not like they came out of nowhere. If you haven’t at least heard of Shin Megami Tensei then I feel a little sorry for you. However over the past few years I let out a little excited groan when I hear about new video game with Atlus written somewhere on it.. This is not to say that I am unhappy seeing them push forward with new projects, in fact it’s far from it. I love playing games by Atlus and until very recently I didn’t know why.

Atlus Video Game Publishing and Development

A logo I'm starting to love

With even the most paltry and superficial research you will learn quite quickly that one of the harder games to come out in recent years was Demon’s Souls. It is lauded as being a controller breakingly difficult game that is so unbelievably fun and rewarding that you begin to question if just maybe you enjoy being abused. While this wasn’t developed by Atlus their name is still attached at publisher. Now we have to give great credit to From Software for making an amazing game in both story and style. All Atlus really did was make it available here in the States but that’s saying something. In a time when an RPG will hold your hand autosave every three minutes and occasionally, not always, give you a big bright shining yellow line to your goal so you can’t even get lost if you tried Atlus took a gamble and pushed it to the store shelves knowing that Demon’s Souls level of ferocity may be viewed by gamers here as being too much. This was a gamble that paid off for them.

divinity 2 dragon knight saga

One of us wants some corn. The other wants a hug.

While Ego Draconis really did get panned by reviewers I am absolutely a fan of Divinity II: Dragon Knight Saga. I mean who wouldn’t be, you turn into a giant dragon, summon an upgradable creature comprised of body parts of the dead. But this is not why I find myself enamored with Divinity II. There something that harkens back to the days of playing the Ultima series. While Divinity does give you a log of current quests what it doesn’t do is hold your hand and tell you where to go. It more or less says “It’s somewhere, go find it.” This encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of the game. There are plenty of crannies and even more nooks.

But what Divinity also does is flat tells you that you need to expect to die. During one of the numerous loading screens it says “When you die during a fight reevaluate your tactics or run until you know what to do.” This is a viable tactic that you legitimately have to utilize during playthrough. Death is something that will happen and happen frequently. It doesn’t throw hordes of weak enemies at you who attack in groups of twos or threes. If you misstep you’re suddenly staring at seven or eight enemies close to or higher than your level who surround and attack. It’s this very reason I’ve been stuck on the last boss for about a week now not able to survive more than a minute into the fight.

Divinity II begs you to strategize and exploit flaws. It requires you to plan your attacks and play upon the weaknesses of the enemies. It’s not like a Dragon Age where more often than not you can get away with creating a tank and running in full bore to clear out a room. You must think before you act. You have to try a few different things before you find what works, and if you didn’t save before trying? Well let’s just say that while there is an autosave it’s more or less a pleasant surprise than a helping hand. I am pretty sure it autosaved maybe four of five times.

Catherine Video Game Atlus

You will both hate Catherine and love her

Then there is Atlus’ latest outing Catherine, a simple platformer that tells the tale of a man named Vincent in-between complicated puzzles. This is yet another game where we see that they aren’t making games to help you and make you feel warm and fuzzy. I have died more times than I care to count in Catherine either because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my surroundings or the puzzle just created a problem that I couldn’t solve in time. Each time I die I watch my available continues go down and I’m met with both nostalgia and panic. But the puzzles are so gratifying in their level of difficulty that upon completion I have found myself jumping up and talking smack to either the puzzle or whatever was chasing me. This is a game that had me actually utter the phrase “Take that you stupid giant baby!” Okay to be honest what I said was slightly more profane.

Ultimately it’s this reaction that Atlus is able to illicit in their recent offerings that is endearing them to me. Whether some obscure item is hidden away in some hard to find alcove on the side of a mountain or I have just completed a grueling boss battle or level I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. Has gaming really deteriorated into a state where we expect the games to play themselves for us? I mean yes while having 150 potential outcomes in the conclusion of a game is interesting where is the challenge in it if I can breeze through it? I guess what I’m trying to say is “Thanks Atlus, for bringing us games that make us feel like we actually accomplished something.”

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Have you ever played a game, thinking, “Wow, my character seems to have no effect on the world around him/her?”.  You walk up to an NPC, and they behave oddly for someone of your race/class/gender?

This woman NPC totally wants to get in the female character's panties.

This happened to me in Divinity II: Ego Draconis.  I created a sultry female character, ran up to guys hoping for some flirting action, yet there was no option for flirting.  However, when I interacted with women, the women would flirt with me, or I would have an option to flirt with them.  Now, I didn’t plan on making my female a lesbian.  And it’s incredibly frustrating to find that the game so blatantly leaves a double standard for male versus female characters.  I can just hear it, “Well of COURSE the male characters have to flirt or be flirted with women NPCs.  But female characters?  PSH.  They don’t need to have the same options with men, of course not.”

I did just go on a bit of a rant.  But honestly, what was the point of letting me choose my character’s gender if the world around me doesn’t respond appropriately?

This just brings to light an issue with irrelevant characters, or irrelevant character creations.

Please tell me where the custom character is in this scene?

For example, take White Knight Chronicles.  You go into this whole process of creating a character, but when you get to the game, what does your character actually do?  Hardly anything.  They basically just sit in the background watching.  By default, you’re given control of someone ELSE, not the character you spent a bunch of time making.  Look at all the cool powers… that some other character is doing.  Essentially, your character in White Knight Chronicles is irrelevant.  You could have played the whole game without them.  They didn’t contribute anything to the story.  What was the point?!  “But… but… you got to make someone!!  Isn’t that cool enough?!”

There’s also Two Worlds II, in which you create a character to control throughout the story.  Two Worlds II also has an online component… but the character you created for the story mode isn’t able to cross over to the online mode.  You have to create a whole other character for online gaming.  WTF?!  “Why on earth would you want to take the SAME CHARACTER over from story mode to online?!  That just makes zero sense.”  **EDIT** Wadoobie claims this is so people won’t beef up their character in story mode, then cross over into online mode.  However, why didn’t they just include some sort of limitations, so you can still take you main character over to online mode, but you can’t have all the awesome armor or stats or something?  Or only have players evenly matched at the same level in multiplayer?

Be warned:  Dragon Age 2 spoilers below.  Do NOT read on if you haven’t finished DA2.

You're looking at the face of a terrorist. And someone integral to the storyline. Not Hawke.

Even Dragon Age 2 has a case of an irrelevant main character.  In the third act, the actual person who brings the clash of mages versus templars to a head isn’t your Hawke.  Nope!  It’s Anders, the brooding mage who is a stickler for the belief that mages should be free.  He’s the one who builds a bomb to blow up the chantry.  As he states, “I removed the chance of compromise, because there is no compromise.  Basically you were just as surprised as everyone else when the chantry exploded.  You may have had a hand in it, but you more than likely didn’t mean to and therefore weren’t any more relevant to the destruction of it.  And that’s the turning point of the story between mages and templars.  What happens from there on out is battle after battle towards the end of the game.

End Spoiler

Characters and situations like this certainly make the player feel disconnected from the game, to say the least.  Honestly, if the game Divinity 2 forced me to be a man, but still have the options to flirt with women, I’d be much happier than the current ‘I’m a girl but I can only hit on / be hit on by women’ situation.  In White Knight Chronicles, the overall question is, “Why did you make me create a character when it doesn’t do one damn thing?”.  For Two Worlds II, it takes the player out of the game to force them to create another character, and leaves them wondering why they can’t just use the initial character they created.  Even in Dragon Age 2, the events seem like my character had nothing to do with the story.  In that situation I was left feeling like my character didn’t deserve the title ‘Champion of Kirkwall’, because she really had no involvement.

What’s the worst pointless character you’ve ever encountered that gets you all fired up?  Be sure to leave your opinions in the comments!


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