Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review: Deciding Your Fate
Publisher: 38 Studios, Elextronic Arts
Developer: 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
Release Date: February 7, 2012 (US), February 9, 2012 (EU)
ESRB: M- Mature
As Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning begins, you are shown a short introductory cutscene before being given control of your character. Very little is explained before you gain control but that just makes it all the more fun to try and figure out just what is going on. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to get used to the controls so you should be dispatching enemies and rifling through loot like a pro before you even get out of the first dungeon.
Once you step out of that first dungeon, you will immediately recognize one of the biggest differences between Reckoning and a lot of other RPG’s. Reckoning’s world is vibrant and full of color around every corner. Everything from the verdant grasslands of Dalentarth to the desolate deserts of Detyre are expertly crafted and satisfyingly expansive. Dungeons, small towns, and big cities all have their own unique draws and things to do. Dungeons are where you will be sent to complete a decent amount of your quests, small towns are great for picking up side quests, and big cities are where you will often progress the main storyline.
The sheer size of the world can be intimidating at times even if it’s not quite the size of Skyrim’s. The number of given quests can easily get out of hand if you are like me and don’t have the focus necessary to stay on track all the time. At one point I had 19 active quests because I kept running into people who needed help while on my way to finding a monster I had to kill. Traveling around Amalur is made easier by a fast travel system which is fairly commonplace in RPG’s at this point but you still can’t overstate the importance of the feature.
The combat system isn’t revolutionary but then again it doesn’t need to be. Using your weapons and different powers that you acquire is very simple and also rewarding. There are three different skill trees in which you can distribute your points: Might, Finesse, and Sorcery. I started off splitting my points between Finesse and Sorcery until I got to the point where I realized that I just didn’t really care for using the bows in this game. Luckily you can pay a fateweaver to unbind your destiny which will allow you to redistribute all of your previously gathered points, at which point I decided to just dump all of my points in Sorcery. There’s nothing quite like summoning a lightning storm to electrocute all of your enemies right before sending a meteor crashing down to roast them all.
Every time you level up you can also put one point into any skill you want which range from Blacksmithing and Alchemy, to Sagecrafting and Dispelling. There are many to choose from, some less useful than others (I’m looking at you Lockpicking). You can also find specific individuals throughout Amalur who will gladly train you in one of these skills in exchange for taking quite a bit of gold.
As far as the story goes, it’s not the best you will find in an RPG but it’s also not the worst. At the beginning of the game, your character is dead but thanks to a certain creation you are resurrected and given another chance at life. Your main goal in the game is to end the war between mortals and Fae, who are immortal and filled with magic. Most Fae are fairly peaceful and don’t wish mortals any harm but a certain faction of the Fae, the Tuatha, are the ones who are raging this war. Defeating their mad king Gadflow and finding out how you originally died are the main focuses of the core storyline.
You will also be able to join different factions and follow their storylines as you complete quests and move up the ranks in each. As for the factions you have: The Warsworn, The Travelers, The Scholia Arcana, The House of Ballads, and The House of Sorrows. Each faction has a satisfying storyline that should take you a few hours to complete.
The amount of loot scattered throughout the world is substantial, ranging from great finds like rare weapons and armor to useless things like skulls. If you are like me and love exploring every last cave for treasure I highly recommend investing points in the Detect Hidden skill. Once you fully upgrade the skill it will show you where every chest, hidden door, and lorestone is on your map. Lorestones are scattered around Amalur and different ones tell different stories. They are all part of a respective set and will shed light on certain situations when they are listened to with the rest of their set.
Reckoning mode is something that you can activate during combat that increases your damage output and allows you to Fateshift enemies. It is an extremely powerful tool at your disposal but it can only be used when the corresponding bar is filled so you don’t really want to use it on a couple of Sprites when you know you have a battle with a Troll coming up.
The AI isn’t always the greatest as they will often stand right in your way and refuse to move. Enemy AI occasionally will stand there with their weapons and just watch you slaughter their allies. Your characters inability to jump at any time can be an irritating annoyance, especially when it forces you to take a path that adds a minute or two to your travel time. Character animations aren’t always the smoothest either, sometimes making gestures during dialogue that make absolutely no sense when taken in context with what they are saying.
These issues are minor when compared to everything that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning does right. You might encounter them every once in a while but they aren’t prevalent enough to mar all the fun you will have with this game. Everything from its beautifully colorful environments to the simplicity of the combat system is a breath of fresh air for a genre that often has predominately dark colors and overly complex combat systems. With a couple DLC packs already out and another one coming soon you can tell that 38 Studios and Big Huge Games plan to keep the world of Amalur rife with things to do and enemies to kill.
I have had quite a few sleepless nights playing this game and I have loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to see how future DLC expands the story and the world of Amalur. This is easily one of my favorite games of 2012 so far and I’m excited to see where it’s taken next. While it may be too early to start talking about a sequel, I for one would love to take another adventure through this amazing world.
+ Fun and easy combat
+ Beautiful environments
+ Can easily put in 100+ hours
+ Can change play style at any time
- Occasional hiccups in AI
4.75 out of 5 stars