If you haven't played Divinity: Original Sin but have only seen screenshots, it would be easy to dismiss its success as owing to its grab at PC-enthusiast nostalgia. That isometric perspective? A party of four? They recall the good-old days of Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate II. Could a game really be blamed for appealing to our fondness for the past?
In the case of Divinity, however, appearances are deceiving. What makes Divinity special isn't how closely it hews to an old recipe, but how far it deviates from it. This is a game in which the most innocuous of choices have consequences that you may not have foreseen, but which nonetheless make sense within this internally consistent and varied world. Making decisions in Divinity isn't a matter of following dialogue paths to predesignated story beats, but about deciding whether a conversation is even worth having in the first place. And should that conversation occur, it's up to your own personal gifts of persuasion--and a little bit of luck--to determine whether it will go your way. Violence is an option, but it's not the only one.
Violence is nevertheless an enjoyable option, however, thanks to Divinity's excellent turn-based combat, which harbors surprises of its own, most of them due to elemental reactions that could blow up your entire party if you aren't paying close attention to your surroundings. In Divinity: Original Sin, every encounter, every discussion, every step into the unknown is an event. And you know a game is special when you know that the simplest of choices might create lasting, heart-pounding, game-changing drama.