Kingdoms of Amalur had a rough time of it when that game first came out in 2012. The game bombed after being overlooked on release, and its developer, 38 Studios, was dissolved after the game’s failure. However, THQ Nordic releasing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning yesterday has given the game a second chance.
Kingdoms of Amalur tells the story of you, a hero in a world where everyone is bound by their fate. However, unlike everyone else, you’re no longer tied to any one fate and can make your own path, which is exactly what the world needs at the moment as the murderous hordes of the Tuatha Dehon, a cult of murderous fae, make war on the world.
The game looks and plays like something out of Dragon Age’s early days, being a fantasy world with a deep story (penned by acclaimed fantasy writer R. A. Salvatore), but also adds a lot more strategic depth to it by making it an action RPG where you can block, move and reposition yourself to help take the advantage in battle.
The game world is also beautiful. Right from the start you’re met with high ceilings, expansive caverns, and, once you get outside, an enormous and beautiful forest with plenty of wildlife around. Even with the dated visuals, the remastered experience that we can see throughout the game really makes you feel like you’re in an epic fantasy world.
Character customization is also all over the place, in a good way. You’re not really limited by class except that you are stronger in some ways than others. Even as a warrior or a rogue you can still cast magic, sneak up on people and stealth-kill them, or just wade in with a big sword to do some damage. Combat is also nice and flashy, with good animations that help things to feel epic rather than just having the models flailing their weapons at each other. Being able to move around everywhere also helps to make combat more hectic and dynamic, especially since you’re often up against a sizable number of enemies.
However, at the same time this is a sizable drawback, especially considering the game is a singular adventure. While there are other characters that will help you in battles sometimes, often you’re adventuring alone, which, as I discovered to my cost, is a bad thing when you go into a mine filled with kobolds that far outnumber you and can definitely prove frustrating in areas where you’re facing a lot of enemies at once.
That, in turn, leads into another issue. While I can’t speak for gamers that for the most part do their playing entirely on the PC, I found the keyboard and mouse setup to be rather unintuitive. So, if you were planning to get this on PC yourself, I might recommend a controller if you don’t play RPGs with keyboard and mouse very often.
The worldbuilding is also a high point of the game, with R. A. Salvatore appearing in fine form. There’s plenty of lore dumped on you at the start, with a great deal more of it to come as you continue to play through the story, ranging from why the Tuatha Dehon are such a threat (they essentially respawn after dying so they can keep coming no matter how many times you kill them), to fae hate crimes in the first major town you come to. Worldbuilding is also fun in that this isn’t a normal fantasy setting. While elves (fae), humans, and dwarves (gnomes) are all there, it’s more centered on Celtic and Norse mythology rather than standard European fare.
All the same there are some sticking points. If you’re not really used to playing RPGs with a keyboard and mouse, a controller might be better for you in terms of gameplay since there’s a lot of buttons to press. Texture pop-in is also an issue, not just on landscapes but also whenever you put clothing and armor on on your player model. Said textures are also dated; while the game has been remastered, the visuals still show their age in many ways.
The game is also nowhere near bug-free. During my time with the game I experienced a texture error during a conversation that completely kicked me out of the game. There have also been reports of the Playstation 4 version of the game having a game-breaking bug that basically causes you to wipe all of your progress.
The plot is also somewhat generic, despite its more original trappings, in that you’re a chosen one who is the only person that can save the world from being destroyed by a horrific threat. However, there are still a few things that Salvatore does to make the story and world feel more original.
So, if you never got the chance to play Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning when it originally came out back in 2012, Re-Reckoning may be a good opportunity for you to try out a hidden gem, even in spite of its flaws. The game is available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.