Over the past two weeks I’ve been playing the early access builds of Wasteland 2 and Divinity: Original Sin. From what I’ve seen so far, the future may be good indeed for the return of the classic, isometric CRPG.
It has been, arguably, since Dragon Age: Origins that last we had a true CRPG that harkened back to the days of Baldur’s Gate or some of the classic Gold Box AD&D games. Now, primarily through four of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date for games, we have four of these games on the way. If these first two efforts — even in their pre-release states — are any indication, then there’s a lot to get excited about.
I have to be honest: That’s not what I was expecting.
I had it in my head that for these games I would find one of two things (or perhaps both). The most likely, I figured, would be that these games would be shadows of the classic CRPG experience, that Wasteland 2 would kind of remind me of a classic Fallout game with all the depth, character and features stripped out. Or that Divinity would do little more than remind me how much I loved the original Divine Divinity — remind me how you can never really go home again. This was, after all, exactly the feeling I felt after playing the competent, but still disappointing, Divinity II.
This was part of the reason I’d been holding off on diving into these early-release games before now. I couched it in the entirely plausible argument that I didn’t want to ruin a story-driven game by playing before the story was cohesive or complete, but what I really didn’t want to do is to validate my suspicion that the games driving a possible revitalization of CRPGs were all paper tigers.
Upon playing them, though, what I’ve experienced is something … remarkable.