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Divine Souls Review – Better Questing through Piledrivers!

Posted Tue, May 10, 2011 by jeffprime

divine souls
My fighter in all his conformist glory.
Divine Souls is an action-packed free-to-play (F2P) game developed by GamePrix and published by Outspark. Taking place in a hybrid fantasy/sci-fi setting, the player takes on the role of a divine soul seeking to protect the Divine Matter from cursed souls, but don’t let the backstory get in the way of what’s really important – kicking ass! The game promises non-stop action through its console-style combat system and it delivers, but there are some underlying issues that keep the game from breaking out.

Cautions

No rating or cautions were given for this game.

Gameplay

65AverageGameplay in Divine Souls is both incredible (the combat) and crappy (grinding). Let us go over the positive aspects of the game and then deal with the negatives.

First, the game is built around the combat system. This isn’t your usual auto-attack/button-mashing MMOG. The combat is more like a console fighting game with your mouse acting as a facing tool with one button for attacking and one button for blocking. You have various combos that you can use to inflict satisfying damage to the enemies and, as you level, you can unlock more. In addition, there are active and passive skills that you can learn that increase your effectiveness in combat. The combat is extremely dynamic and, most importantly, fun as hell to play. I can’t get enough of grabbing an opponent, flinging him up into the air, then jumping up and raining a series of blows and kicks to him while we’re both airborne. Active skills you gain every 5th level while you gain passive skills at every 7th level. You also have three options for controls in the game: mouse/keyboard, keyboard, or gamepad and you can easily switch from one to another.

divine souls
My fighter laying the smackdown!

The game format is of a main quest hub with smaller quest hubs radiating out from the central hub with portals to various dungeon instances based on your level. The smaller quest hubs have a single portal that goes to all of the dungeon instances for that area – usually 3 to 4 different instances with various difficulty degrees that you can choose. You won’t spend a lot of time traveling so you’ll have more time to kicking ass.

The UI is standard MMOG fare and is rather clean. However, a feature that I was really impressed with was the map. The main map and mini-map are exceptionally clean, easy to read, and show all the various npcs, quest givers, merchants, skill trainers, auction house, portals, etc. Even better is that you can click on a person or portal on the map and your character will automatically run to that location. I know that this might not sound big, but it’s little things like having an easy-to-read map that makes gameplay that much simpler and better.

Another interesting game mechanic is the medal that you can customize. As you play, you can gain achievements that unlock specific medals. You have an overall medal that has 4 slots that you can put 4 different medals in. The medals that you unlock give bonuses to stats or various abilities. While I normally don’t care about achievements, here you get a tangible reward for unlocking them. It’s a nice little mechanic that adds some desire to go for the various achievements.

divine souls
A clearly understood map is a thing of beauty.

On the negative side, we must first realize that there are only three classes at the present time: fighter, slasher, and mage. Each class is gender locked as, according to the backstory, you’re actually playing a specific person who is part of a team. The only customization that you can do is to alter the hair style and facial appearance. If you want a unique character, then look elsewhere.

The biggest negative for the game and which drags the gameplay score down quite a bit is the incredible amount of grinding and repetition you will go through playing the game. You will go into the same dungeon over and over again to fulfill various quests, which really are just excuses to kill the creatures. The dungeons are broken into segments that have portals connecting the segments. To open a portal to the next section, you’ll have to kill everything in that section. There’s no stealth here. If it moves, you’re killing it. You’ll spend 3 to 4 levels of time in a single instanced dungeon, which means that you’ll see the exact same layout with the exact same monsters over and over again. Even worse is that the dungeons are very linear. There is a path to be followed, so don’t think about running off to see what’s on the other side of the stream.

At the end of each dungeon, there is usually a boss that you’ll have to fight. Depending upon the difficulty, they can be extremely difficult and you’ll find yourself drinking healing potions like they’re going out of style. Once you defeat the boss, you go to a bonus round where you essentially do a rock/scissors/paper game to win a prize (usually gold plus an item if you win or draw).

In addition, there aren’t enough quests to fully level you to the next dungeon level plateau so you’ll have to either repeat one of the repeatable quests or just go into a dungeon and grind out enough xp to reach the next milestone. (Each monster killed gives you xp.) You’ll be doing a lot of grinding.

Overall, the combat and skill system rocks and would garner the gameplay an A rating, but the grind and repetition of going back again and again to the same instance drags it down to a C.

Graphics

82GoodThe graphics for Divine Souls are solid. The monsters are very detailed and look cool, the dungeons look appropriately menacing or treacherous, and the combat animations are extremely well done. While the visuals aren’t cutting edge, you won’t need a machine with a direct link to the national grid to play the game. The style is an anime-inspired Western type of graphics.

divine souls
My mage laying down some fire.

Sound

55MediocreThe sound in this game is mediocre. The combat sounds are ok, but the monsters don’t make a lot of noise themselves and there is little ambient sound. You’ll mainly hear one of three various musical tracks endlessly playing in the background. The one decent track for fighting is a rock-themed track that helps get you in the mood for butt-kicking, but you’ll probably end up listening to some metal from your own personal collection or internet radio station while you’re playing.

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