Some video games become movies, others become toys, lunchboxes or cosplay costumes. Divinity: Original Sin is a PC gaming series that's going cross-platform in an entirely different way, turning into an analog cards-and-dice board game.
The most recent video game in the series, Divinity: Original Sin 2 (actually something like the seventh game in the long-running Divinity series), at a time when PC gaming was dominated by non-narrative shooters like PUBG. That game was funded via Kickstarter to the tune of about $2 million. The new board game version is also on Kickstarter and has raised more than $1.5 million in pledges so far during its 30-day campaign. The game starts at $120, with even more expensive deluxe editions.
Kieron Kelly from game developer Larian Studios came by the CNET offices to show off a work-in-progress prototype and play a few rounds before taking the game to the PAX Unplugged convention in Philadelphia, where I also got to see it in action.
My first impression was that this was a big game. As in physically big, taking up most of a huge table with its circular main board, large character dashboards and tons of dice, cardboard tokens and miniatures. In that sense, it's in line with the current more-is-more tabletop game design aesthetic, as seen in.
If you've played Original Sin or Original Sin 2, the look and feel of the board game version will be immediately familiar, with iconic characters like the reptilian Red Prince or living skeleton Fane. Special abilities have a cooldown period, just as in the video game version, and storytelling and stealth are as important as fighting.
Playing a few rounds with Kelly, I was struck by how Larian and Lynnvander Studios, the board game design studio it partnered with, translated a turn-based adventure RPG into something unexpected, building set pieces around a circular main board, bouncing back and forth between varied locations and a novella-sized storybook to drive the narrative.
It would have been easy to recreate the video game in a very literal way, as a standard dungeon crawl with plastic miniatures moving across D&D-style map tiles, fighting monsters along the way. Instead, the Original Sin board game felt less linear and more strategic, although it's hard to get a feel for a game that could take hours per playthrough in just a few sample rounds.
This isn't the first video game to get a modern tabletop game treatment, and you can already get games based on Doom, Resident Evil 2, Gears of War and X-COM, but most of those those feel more like standard action games. The crowdfunding campaign for Divinity Original Sin ends on Dec. 20, but developer Larian is already working on another massive project, the long-awaited video game sequel .