Gameplay 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
My fighter laying 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
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.