Despite seemingly being adored by many of those who played the game (even if the critics didn’t necessarily agree unanimously), Kingdoms of Amalur wouldn’t really be considered a successful title. This is despite it selling a hefty 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days, a feat which feels a lot less impressive when you consider that it supposedly needed to hit 3 million sales just to break even. That was followed up by the closure of the developer as well as some legal issues, so it’s clear that the game’s history isn’t necessarily a happy one.
It’s a shame too because there really was a decent RPG adventure to be enjoyed behind all of the troubles that hit the game, many of which had nothing to do with the overall gameplay experience. Thankfully, THQ Nordic recognised this and decided to purchase the rights to Kingdoms of Amalur and revive it in the new and improved ‘Re-Reckoning’ edition.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s tale revolves around the ‘Fateless One’, the protagonist who had actually died early on but is revived in the Well of Souls. This process has actually freed them from the shackles of fate, with the destinies of all that inhabit the Kingdoms of Amalur pre-determined and known by a villainous race known as the Fae. With your destiny in your own hands, you’re the last hope that Amalur has in bringing peace to the world and preventing the all-knowing Fae from wiping out the mortals for good.
What’s most impressive about Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s narrative is the depth it goes into. Almost every element of the world has some lore attached to it, be it all of the different races you encounter, the relationship they share with others, the locations you visit, and the history of the world. It adds more stakes to the journey in some ways, but also ensured that it feels like a living and breathing locale that is worth adventuring through. It’s nice, especially for those who appreciate lore-heavy experiences.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s core gameplay experience will feel familiar to anyone who has played an open-world RPG before. Players can expect to explore a massive world freely whilst partaking in an epic story-driven adventure, all whilst clearing areas of vicious baddies in quick-paced combat, developing their character’s skillset, and uncovering the many impressive sights and secrets that are hidden within the world of Amalur. It brings with it all of the previously released DLC, whilst an all-new expansion known as ‘Fatesworn’ is due to drop sometime in 2021.
The combat of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is one of the strongest points of the entire experience, with its emphasis on quick-paced action and mixing of abilities setting it apart from its peers in the genre. There are a wide range of different weapons to use when battling foes, whilst the fact that your character can take advantage of and expand their skills through three different skill trees (Might, Finesse and Sorcery) means you can put together a real versatile adventurer with an impressive repertoire of abilities.
Of course, you can specialise if you prefer. Want to be a classic warrior? Invest yourself into the Might skill tree. Want to blow enemies away with magic? Go for Sorcery. Or do you want to be a quick and nifty rogue? Finesse it is. Whilst Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning gives you the opportunity to be a jack of all trades, it also allows you to adapt to a play style that suits your RPG preferences to a tee. Add to that the fact that you can also invest skill points into other abilities such as lockpicking, persuasion, stealth and so forth, and you’ll quickly find that even The Elder Scrolls’ diverse character-building is rivalled here. It’s great to play around with in-game and helps diversify your character’s capabilities both in and out of combat scenarios.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s main questline is pretty meaty and will take a ton of hours to invest yourself into, with all sorts of hazardous dungeons to explore and plenty of dangerous baddies to vanquish. It’s your typical fantasy affair really, so if you’ve played one of the Elder Scrolls or Fable games before you’ll know what to expect. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t do anything you wouldn’t have seen before (and the same applied back when it originally released in 2012).
There are also a whole lot of side quests to dive into within the world, with some coming from the many NPCs you’ll encounter and others from one of the six factions found across Amalur. It’s definitely worth digging into those factions by the way, with each bringing with them their own unique storylines to follow that offer higher stakes than your traditional side quests – they’ll see you exploring additional locales and encountering some standout characters too, so they’re definitely a highlight.
For the most part though, the side quests are very run-of-the-mill, with each made up of typical tasks such as travelling to a specific location, collecting items, or killing enemies. It’s your standard RPG filler by most standards and with an absolute ton of them to complete, it can be a little overwhelming keeping track of them all. But hey, at least they encourage you to explore the world a bit more, with plenty of neat sights to be found and loot to be collected when adventuring.
It really is an impressive world to look at too, despite the game being eight-years old now. The best point of comparison would be to World of Warcraft, with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s colourful fantasy landscapes and blend of unique races making for a world that’s wonderful to be a part of. Admittedly, a lot of character models and objects in the environment do look their age, but some improvements across the board and the introduction of more natural lighting does sharpen everything up for modern consoles.
It’s not all fancy bells and whistles though, with some frame rate stutters during intense combat sequences and long load times to be found throughout the game. It never falls to unplayable levels and it is mostly consistent, but it’s not the smoothest of experiences – it’s something that’s a little bit disappointing given that this is an eight-year old game. I even encountered the occasional crash when playing, which could be a bit frustrating when losing a bit of progress.
It’s pretty neat to see Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning hit current-gen consoles, with its epic adventure still holding up well eight-years on. The combat is fast, fluid and enjoyable, whilst exploring the vast and lore-rich game world and evolving your character’s skillset will keep you hooked into the journey for a long, long time.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its share of imperfections though, with some frame rate stutters, long load times and the occasional crash causing issues throughout the game. These issues don’t occur too frequently, but when they do it’s a nuisance. Some of the quests are guilty of being a bit boring too, which becomes all the more obvious when you consider how many of them there actually are.
Still, behind those technical problems is a really enjoyable open-world RPG for players to sink their teeth into, with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning sure to offer hours of enjoyment for returning gamers and those who are fresh to the adventure.
Developer: Big Huge Games, KAIKO
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC