In February 2012, the ill-fated 38 Studios released Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to the world, while generally well received for being a pretty solid RPG adventure, it would soon fall fowl of a tumultuous time in the gaming industry.
Fast forward eight years (good grief has it been that long already?) and what was considered by many to be a franchise that would never see the light of day again, THQ Nordic’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning would suddenly appear on the horizon, much to the delight of the small group of adoring fans (one of which is writing this now).
Set in the Faelands in the Kingdoms of Amalur (the place, not the title), the home to the immortal Fae of the Summer and Winter courts, the Tuatha are wreaking havoc on what was once a peaceful land. You play the “Fateless One”, effectively a reanimated corpse of a fallen soldier who is miraculously resurrected by a gnomish scientist Fomorous Hugues. Once you have been through the pretty comprehensive task of character creation, you are given your main quest, and away you go!
I wouldn’t usually spend too much time to discuss character creation, but Kingdom of Amalur’s deserves some time in the spotlight. It’s not quite like your usual RPG character creation. Certainly, actually deciding the gender, race, hairstyle and whatnot is pretty standard fare, but I really like how skill development is handled. You have your usual strength, stealth, and sorcery skill trees (Might, Finesse, and Sorcery respectively), how you choose to develop these tree have direct influence on what equipment you can use. Don’t have quite enough Finesse? That’s a shame you can’t use this awesome chest piece just yet. This makes you really think about how you want to dish out those skill points, and define your character and playstyle. It was easy for me, 100% sorcery and all the cool robes…
Along with the skill tree, Destinies play a large part in your character development. Once again focusing on each of the main disciplines – Finesse, Might, Sorcery. The Destinies unravel as you assign specific points to each of these. For me, I was focusing purely on Sorcery, so as I levelled up, I would unlock levels within the Sorcery Destiny, gaining titles as I go; Acolyte, Initiate, Seer, etc. Players aren’t locked into single disciplines either, and are welcome to mix and match as they like, unlocking the related Destiny as they go.
On top of these skillsets, there’s a whole host of weapon types that should satisfy anyone who likes to bludgeon things, slice things, send things to their fiery doom, and much more. It’s almost overwhelming at first, but you soon work out which works for your style, and combat becomes smooth and almost effortless – more on that later!
So for character creation you are set in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning! But what good is a badass fighter without things to fight?
There are plenty of things to kill, don’t you worry! Amalur is set in a semi-high-fantasy world, and on your travels you’re never too far from Trolls, Wolves, and an array of weird woodland creatures that want to chew your face off! Thankfully, with your arsenal of weapons, and a few spells up the sleeves of your baggy mage robes, tackling them is a delight. Using a mix of primary and secondary weapon setups, and a host of spells which can be assigned to the various face buttons, battles soon go from an “Oh shit I’m going to die!” moment, to an “Oh shit, did you see that?!”. My poor wife had to put up with me acting like a five-year-old every five minutes, as I would pull off some incredible combo of destruction magic and literal soul-destroying spells.
The Kingdom of Amalur, as dangerous as it is, is incredibly “pretty”. I hate using that word, but it is… It’s vibrant, inviting, and the little nooks and crannies of the world are begging to be explored. However, as gorgeous as it is, it suffers a bit with age as exploration in Re-Reckoning is very “of its time”. Never truly being open world, but more open corridor. Some areas do open up, and allow a little more freedom in exploration, but generally you are pretty restricted as to where you can go. But, in a time where so many games are so vast, and offer almost too many options of where to go, a little restriction can be welcome to allow you to focus on the task at hand.
As in any RPG, tasks and quests are everywhere… I don’t know about you, but I am a quest hoarder… See an exclamation mark, and I am there! Sure, I’ll go find your lost child, once I’ve helped this person with their chickens! What was that? You need me to speak to the local witch? Sure, I’ll pop up there for you… Amalur is full of people wanting things doing, so if you find yourself a little strained from the main campaign, there’s always something else to do. These additional tasks don’t tend to repeat task types too often, even if they do, I didn’t notice as I was enjoying myself too much, heading into a local cave to retrieve someone’s lost trinket.
Overall, I adore Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning just as much as I did back in 2012. As we’re on the cusp of a brand-new generation, it’s a love letter to a much simpler time… When RPGs focused more on the stories within the world, rather than the square-milage of its map. Amalur itself is waiting to be explored, and wants to show you everything it has to offer, all while you save the world from evil. It’s a game that I can see myself returning to time and time again. With the different options for skills, Destinies, weapon sets, and more, I can only see each playthrough being as exciting as the last. Yes it has a few moments where 2012 creeps in, the UI is a direct replica of the original, and a little more intrusive than what we’re used to today. And sure, the map indicator doesn’t move with you, but these can be excused, and if anything, evoke some of that sweet nostalgia we all love.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is available now on Playstation 4, PC, and Xbox One for a very reasonable £34.99!