Divinity II: Ego Draconis Impressions: Morality Is For Lesser Mortals

In Divinity II, you are a freaking dragon at least half the time. Why should you care about petty mortal concerns like good and evil?

Unlike other fantasy role-playing games with branching plotlines and dialogue trees, you see, Ego Draconis emphasises choice over morality. Choosing one action over another doesn't net you any karma or change your appearance over time to reflect how good or evil you are.

There is, however, an immediate consequence for almost all of your actions. So when it comes to those branching plotlines and dialogue trees, it pays to pay attention – or at least have a quick-save at the ready.

Take, for example, the story of Derk and Dana. Dana loves Derk, but she's married to Carl. Talking to Dana nets the player a sealed love letter they can take to Derk wherein Dana begs him to take her away from her unhappy marriage.

Now, if this were Fable II, you'd probably only be able to take the letter to Derk or maybe take it to Carl. But this Ego Draconis and they don't care for dichotomy. Developer Larian Studios says there are about 20 different ways this quest can play out and no one solution is the "right" one.

For example, you can open the letter and then take it back to Dana to blackmail her. Now, if this were The Witcher, she'd sleep with you – but this is Ego Draconis and evidently, they care not for sex. Instead, you can get money from her… and then rat her out to her husband anyway. Or you can take the opened letter back to Dana, Mindread her thoughts to find out about Carl's secret study in the basement of their house, go down there to find Carl's diary wherein he admits killing Dana's previous lover. Then, armed with this new info, you can blackmail Carl into giving you money and then rat him out to the guards anyway.

The worst thing that can possibly happen to you in this whole chain of events is a non-playable character deciding to attack you. And this is Ego Draconis – you're an effin' dragon. Who cares if a puny mortal comes at you with a knife?

Anyway, this is what actually happened during the demo Larian Studios gave me: We blackmailed Dana and mind-read her (which costs a sum of experience points) to find the diary. After finding the diary, we first told Carl about his wife's infidelity – he threw her out and she fled to Derk's place, which raised the blacksmith's prices because Derk's the blacksmith and our character's name is now mud in their house. However, we now had an opportunity to talk to Carl and get an enchanted amulet he'd intended to give to Dana. Then, the demo driver blackmailed Carl anyway, causing him to snap and attack us, whereupon we offed him.

See? Choices without a good-and-evil split. Carl was a bad guy and now he's dead; Dana's with her lover and totally spit in our cereal by having Derk jack up prices and we walk away with one of the best items in the game. Nobody's a saint and nobody gains bad karma that turns your face ugly.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Ego Draconis. Even running the Xbox 360 version on my standard definition TV was a smooth (if less vibrant) experience, and it looks to be a solid RPG experience. And without that pesky good-and-evil dichotomy to worry about, I'm really looking forward to tearing around the fictional world as a dragon to see how many things I can wreck or upset with my fireball breath.

Too bad you can't turn into a dragon inside of most buildings.

Look for it on Steam, Impulse and shelves (in Xbox 360 form) January 5.


    Blackmail for all!

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