Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an action-roleplaying game from the now-defunct 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning puts the player in the role of the “Fateless One,” who recently died but was brought back to life in a gnomish experiment. Players can fight, explore, craft items and weapons, and discover all that the colorful world of Amalur has to offer. As they level up they can put points into the three combat trees to unlock new and powerful attacks as they try to stop Amalur from being destroyed.
-Three branching combat trees: Might, Finesse, Sorcery
-"Fate" cards that let you buff your character once you've unlocked them
-Action-oriented combat with powerful finishing moves
-Deep crafting system letting players create some of the best items and weapons in-game
-Vibrant game world full of huge areas to explore
40-80+ hours, depending on playstyle.
February 7th, 2012
PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Developer: 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
Publisher: 38 Studios, Electronic Arts
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an action-roleplaying game from the now-defunct 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. KoA:R puts the player in the role of the “Fateless One,” who has recently died but is brought back to life in a gnomish experiment. Just as you meet your re-maker, his lab comes under attack by the same group who killed you in the first place. After a quick escape and introduction to the three main combat trees (of might, finesse, and sorcery) the player is free to explore the huge, colorful world of Amalur.
Players attack with various fantasy weapons, leaving blood on the ground. Violent finishing moves can be employed in “reckoning” mode, where players can summon huge ethereal weapons to stab, decapitate, impale, slice, bludgeon, or destroy their enemies.
A rare entry or two of the in-game books are sexually suggestive in nature. The nature and manner of their inclusion in the game implies that it is meant as tongue-in-cheek. Also, one of the enemy types is a banshee-like creature named a “Leanashe” who goes into battle with little clothes on. Nothing is actually shown.
As the player levels up and allocates skill points, they can choose “Fate” cards with names like “Shadowcaster” or “Crusader” that give bonuses. They are stylized and presented much like Tarot cards. The Fateweaver that you meet early on who explains how Fate works in Amalur is a cross between Tarot reader and warrior. The player’s character is told they are in charge of their own fate because they have died and came back to life, whereas everyone else has an inescapable fate. In truth, the cards and their use in-game is just a creative way to introduce class bonuses.
The first Fateweaver you meet in the game has a possibility to curse at you (d***it) if you choose certain dialogue options.
KoA:R is like if God of War and World of Warcraft had a video game baby. The crafting, harvesting, skill trees, and world-building is pure RPG fun, whereas the combat and QTEs are enough to make any fan of Kratos’ style happy. There is always something fun or engaging to do in the world of Amalur, and the bright, vibrant setting is a eye-catching and entertaining. And to top it all off: it’s a single-player game. That’s right—you can pause.
Players can choose from four different races in either gender. After the introductory level, you can start putting points in one of the three skill trees which relate to the three main fantasy classes of warrior, thief, and mage. You can reallocate your skill points for a fee anytime you visit a Fateweaver. In this sense, the scope of playable races and classes is narrower than even other games at the time, but everything included is polished to a high shine. Class skills create impressive effects on the battlefield, from the warrior’s “Quake” (when upgraded causes a jut of land to rise up and knock enemies down) to the mage’s “Meteor.”
The crafting is also well done…almost too well. Players can craft weapons and armor with the blacksmithing skill, and have the option to salvage parts from armor they don’t want or need. With the Sagecraft skill, players can create and combine powerful gems to infuse their items and weapons with enchantments. All of this was satisfying and fun on my playthrough, but I was somewhat disappointed that by getting really good at making my own gear, I no longer found gear in the world that was better. This might be a positive or a negative depending on your playstyle, but I like finding bigger and better gear after defeating a boss or major enemy.
And in the boss fight department, KoA:R has some memorable ones. Without spoiling much, I can say the boss fight against a behemoth cyclops is one of the more memorable ones of any RPG. KoA:R excels at drawing you in, however. Your first boss fight against an ogre might seem daunting, but gain a few levels and you won’t bat an eye facing down 2-3 of them at once. By the time you hit the big set pieces, the game has trained you to be good at dodging and using finishing moves to survive.
Not all is perfect however in this war-torn fantasy world (well obviously). You may have noticed that I’ve avoided many of the proper names that the game uses in this review. That’s because they’re near-gibberish, and either hard to pronounce or harder to remember. Sadly, KoA:R falls victim to the roleplaying trope, “We have to think up something cooler-sounding,” and they came up short. Instead of humans we have Almain and Varani. Instead of elves we have Dokkalfar (dark elves), and Ljosalfar (fair-skinned elves). Your main allies are Professor Fomorous Hugues, Agarth, and Alyn Shir. The antagonists are the Tuatha Deohn, lead by their king, Gadflow. Well-known writer R.A. Salvatore is listed as one of the writers for the game, but sadly it feels as dense as a speed bump. While the art, combat, and roleplaying accoutrements shine, the writing comes up short.
That being said, perfection in games is rare, and subjective. This is a great game with an odd pedigree – writing by Salvatore, art by McFarlane, and owned by Curt Schilling (who went bankrupt after this game was released). And since 38 Studios and Big Huge Games went under, it’s unlikely we’ll see any sequels or remasters for such an underrated gem, which is sad. But, if you have a last-gen console or decent PC, you can still experience a great action-RPG for a fraction of the price of a new game.
+Beautiful game world
+Tons to discover, do, and make
+ Action is fun and engaging, not turn-based or slow
- Names are terrible and unpronounceable at times
- Crafting: if you get good at it makes loot worthless
- Studio went bankrupt so don't expect a sequel or remake anytime soon