[Editor’s note: SPOILERS throughout. Go play the game. It is the game of the year, possibly the game of the decade.]
This one has been a long time coming, and I wanted to fucking complete the shit before I wrote the review. Well I did. Poopsocked it and got the game done.
For fullest context, the road to getting here is the tale of two paths converging.
I am old enough that I played the fucking shit out of Bioware’s Baldur’s Gate. That game was especially big in the heat.net summer. I talked about it in the3 blog, but it was amazing to go experience all the game had to offer with a group of other online numbskulls. In fact, CRPGs (as the nerds call them) have been a big part of my gaming history. Played just about as many as I could get my hands on. Eventually the genre faded away. Or I should say, my life got busy and the games weren’t as popular as I remember. I moved on to MMOs and what not.
Enter Larian studios. A wise man hipped me to the existence of Divinity Original Sin II, and I fucking love that game. I got the 200+ hours of game time to prove it. Like I wrote in that original blog, the fucking game’s mechanics were just stellar. Being able to solve problems in a million different ways made every playthrough an astonishing experience.
So, I have been hyped for Larian doing Baldur’s Gate 3 for a long long time.
Lets focus on why this was going to be the match made in heaven from the jump. The biggest thing Larian brought to the table was gamecraft. In terms of options and opportunities to solve a problem, this has all of that from Divinity OS II and more.
Having trouble with a fight? Maybe come in through a different door. Maybe that’s all you need. Maybe stealth in and leave bombs on the ground before the fight starts. Maybe separate your party and have them come in different angles.
Or talk your way out of it. Or sell your soul a bit to skip the fight. There is a million options to solving your problem.
Larian is the master of setting up these battles for you to figure your way out of. There is one battle in particular that I had planned on writing about in detail, but I can’t bring myself to spoil it. It’s a battle that you don’t even have to see. Can totally beat the game and miss out on it. Its at the bottom of one specific quest chain. And its so fucking hard you have to bring everything you have to bare all at once. Way harder than the last boss. And its fucking hilarious, and challenging, and fun.
This is Larian at its best. Making you think, work for it, and still have fun.
And all of that may feel really familiar to those who played Divinity OS II. What they changed is everything else.
Holy shit did they fix their writing. Divinity OS II never had the best story or dialogue. But I guess hiring a bunch of telltale’s staff after that company got the axe will do that.
In these types of games, there are usually companion quests to take you on side journeys to learn more about who is on this adventure with you. In this game, each of the character’s arc is fully woven into the story with the resolution usually directly dependent on how the game ends.
In fact, it must have taken the whole team of writers all of the time in the world to figure out how to weave these arcs beautifully throughout the game’s 3 acts. Each of the decisions you make along the way doesn’t just impact the end but how you are seen throughout the game.
And none of that stuff on the page would work without the voice acting cast….
The decision to have a full voice cast is a choice. The game is big…and its long. Much longer than anything else like it. And every single part is acted out. From randoms on the streets of Baldur’s Gate to the voices of every animal you see (if you have animal speaking).
It brings life into these characters. And the voice actors fucking sell it. They are swinging for the fences here and it pays off. I haven’t been this connected to a story in a long time.
I am usually the king of skipping a cut scene. Of blasting through anything that takes me away from gameplay. Here, I am savoring all of it.
How the fuck is the game this stable. Over my 60 hours so far, my game crashed ONCE. ONCE. I have alt tabbed. Ive just left it running. I have beaten up this thing and I can’t get it to crash. Or lag.
Even in Baldur’s Gate where you are surrounded by shit. I haven’t dropped frames, experienced glitches. Nothing. Smooth as fuck.
And the score. Oh man. Clearly learning from all the recent fantasy elements and putting it together, we have something that has a very very…high adventure kind of feel.
Overall, we have something extremely special here. I have beaten it once, but I am going to beat it again and again. I’m already planning out my next runthrough.
This is the kind of thing I have been waiting for. A game that will just reward time and time again. That it is impossible to see everything the first time.
It’s like going on a vacation to a place where you know you want to get back there as soon as you can.
Oh and one other thing. For anyone complaining about microtransactions, you better fucking buy this game. $60 and Larian gave you more value than you can possibly fucking imagine. No extra charges, no bullshit.
Cause Larian isn’t out here to make money. They are out here to make video games. There is a difference.
4/4 – But this is totally different than my last 4/4, which only time can really tell on. This thing is built to be talked about for years to come. When people put out their best games of all time list, they will put this thing on it. Guaranteed.
Woah, did I do this whole review and not really spoil much. Can’t have that. Lets end strong.