A gorgeous mess of high production value game with buggy quests and boring combat
I hope you like D&D 5th edition combat! Because there's a shitload of it. And unlike a tabletop game session, you have to control four entire characters. The game is fully turn based like D&D, and by Act 3 the game compensates for your power levels by throwing massive amounts of minions at you.
Take a wizard. I didn't like Gale and I didn't keep him around most of the time because of that. But damn, wizards are good. Sleep, Blind, Hold Person, Tasha's Hideous Laughter, and the completely OP Otto's Irresistible Dance are complete game changers in combat.
I played the entire game on easy, but there were still quite a few fights in late Act 2 and most of Act 3 that had many characters near death. I've played D&D many times and the combat is absolutely the worst part of it to me, so I picked up this game probably against my better judgment because I was looking to fill that Bioware-shaped hole in my heart.
There's decent selection of them (but no monk? and nobody who's a "small" race? pft). I romanced Shadowheart because she's a goth girl after my own heart. Her arc was decently interesting though not really surprising. I ditched Lae'zel once I got Karlach, but once I did the Githyanki Creche I realized that Lae'zel is way more involved in the game story than Karlach, and I swapped them back. Wyll is dreadfully boring to me.
Virtually everything is voice acted and mo-capped, and the graphics are beautiful. This game is a treat to look at. The music rarely blew me away, but it enhanced the experience. The game maybe tries a little too hard to be a sandbox in an "organic" way. I was constantly running into missions where any other game would just have you click a dialogue option to unlock a door, but in this game you have to right click the door and select lockpick. Same sort of thing with getting a captive out of chains, or rescuing someone who's on the ground. Rather than going with reducing friction, the game makes you think in the sandbox context a lot more than I personally care for.
In Act 1 it felt like the game had so much promise, and Act 2 almost kept it going, but Act 3 it felt like everything about the encounter design, combat system, quest log, map, the whole game felt like it was buckling under the weight of what they were trying to do. I went from excitedly launching the game every night to "alright, let's wrap this shit up", sadly.
Also, the game is constantly throwing extremely vague warnings about "better finish up what you were doing" when you go to new areas, with no detail about what will/won't be available after you go there. Be warned that Act 3 completely cuts of all areas from Act 1 and Act 2, so you need to finish up whatever you want there before leaving.
The main story was fine. That being said, a lot of really critical information is stuck in side quests you could easily skip. The ending won't blow you away, and the final fight is insufferable.
## The Hells
Make sure you do the quest line that has you go to the hells, but be sure to keep a save before you go. A poor party configuration won't succeed even on easy there. I was lucky in that I had a scroll in my back pocket that trivialized the fight. Everything about that mission blew my mind, especially the song in the boss room. "Here come the claws" is a phrase that's been living in my head ever since. Just incredible.
This game started off really strong, but Act 3 soured me on the game. I played for about 110 hours and did most side quests in the game. This was probably a mistake. I definitely had more than my fill of this game and got sick of it by the end. I certainly had a lot of fun, but the game's combat encouter design was soul crushing to me, and numerous quest bugs almost ruined my experience throughout the game. Shout out to everyone posting workarounds on Reddit.
Reviewed on Sep 23, 2023