Given the similarity in titles, it would be easy to assume that Ego Draconis is little more than an effort to capitalize on Bioware’s recent opus, Dragon Age: Origins. While both are role-playing games in a fantasy setting, it may surprise people to learn just how richly-laden the world of Rivellon is; much of it actually looks even better than Fereldan. Divinity II was not devised as some kind of afterthought. Just a few hours in, it becomes readily apparent how much thought and care went into this experience, one which easily surpasses its cult-classic predecessors. You may roll your eyes at the notion of having to deal with a villain named Damian, but this RPG offers far more than the usual fantasy clichés.
In Divinity II, the player makes the ironic transformation from Dragon Slayer to Dragon Knight. Slaying dragons sounds all well and good, but when someone offers you a chance to have all the powers of the dragon at your fingertips… well, it becomes difficult to resist. Technically, the player does not have much say in this matter. Playing as the flying, fire-breathing monstrosity is quite thrilling, and it’s definitely something players will relish. However, the ability to become the dragon is not handed over to you once the game begins. You must put in considerable hours first, and this provides an excellent incentive for player progress.
Fortunately, Ego Draconis isn’t a chore to play. The world is vast and beautiful, and is absolutely teaming with activity. Take off in one direction, and you may find yourself caught in an ambush. Head off somewhere else, and a quest opportunity may appear. Each quest is fulfilling and enjoyable in its own right; some may offer rare potions as a reward, while others will let you play mind games with NPCs. Particularly appealing for the devious player is DII’s telepathy feature. Experience points can be spent in an effort to access the most private thoughts of others, often in ways that allow you to manipulate them. This feature can be extraordinarily useful, and shows the developers were not attempting to make some silly dragon-themed game, but a true RPG with intriguing mechanics for accomplishing objectives.
Ego Draconis makes use of a fairly fluid character development system, as well. This allows players to develop a set of skills early on, but shift to other abilities later if they feel so inclined. If you plan on being a blademaster, you can be trained as such, and later complement these talents with some sorcery as well. You’ll need every advantage you can get, because the more intense battles in DII will pit you against swarms of nasties that constantly test your combat prowess. The dragon does come in very handy for expansive regions in the game, but the transformation cannot be performed in confined spaces, if only for the sake of gameplay balance.
There’s quite a bit to look at in the game, from fancy high-dynamic range lighting to fuzzy little bunnies hopping around the forest. The PC version did seem to have a few issues with freezing, but the overall appearance is considerably cleaner than its counterpart on the Xbox 360. There are no glaring differences between each version, so the general gameplay experience is identical. BioWare may dominate the role-playing sector of the market right now, but if you find yourself looking for something different, Larian Studios’ (along with dtp and CDV) Divinity II has quite a lot to offer