Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an RPG (role playing game) with an action oriented combat system. When you are resurrected, you find that you have no fate, unlike everyone else in the world. It is up to you to chart your course through this humongous open world adventure.
After you are resurrected, you quickly come under attack from the Tuatha, the main enemies of the game. Once you defeat the enemies and are free of the Well of Souls, the opening tutorial dungeon, you are free to go where you choose and do what you like. Do you want to hit the first town and steal everything in sight? Go for it. Want to play a paragon of virtue? Feel free. Want to kill everyone in the village? Have at it.
KoA:R is a MASSIVE game. At the time of this writing and completion of the main quest, I have 83 hours into the game. I also have 40 side quests unfinished, and areas of the map I have not visited. So to call it a huge game is an understatement. Honestly, there is so much content packed on this game disc that the level ca of 40 is not high enough. I maxed out my character at about the 70 hour mark.
As I said, you are free to go where ever you choose in this game. That is a blessing and a curse. As anyone who has ever played an Elder Scrolls game can testify, you can play for 40-50 hours and never even touch the main quest. KoA:R is like that. This is also a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, you have the freedom to go where you choose and aren’t shoehorned into a linear quest. On the opposite side, this make for a story that isn’t particularly cohesive. To really get the story experience, you have to play the main quest through without diverging into the side quests.
This game reminded me of a bastard child of The Elder Scrolls series and the Fable series. Both are great series, but drastically different styles of games. This title took the two and combined them into a very good game. While I won’t say it is great, it is very good. Sadly, it is missing a couple really important parts of those two games.
While it has the visual flair of Fable and more action oriented combat, it is missing the world building aspects. You can get a house and upgrade it, but you can’t rent it out for cash. Also, your actions really have no impact on the world. If you walk into a town and slaughter civilians, all you have to do is run away for awhile and everyone likes you again. There really is no consequence to your actions.
Another problem is that with a game this huge, there is a massive amount of mythology to absorb in one game. While The Elder Scrolls has had 5 games to build the mythology, this is the first Amalur game, and they try to throw the whole shebang at you. It is too much lore for one game. Which leads to another problem:
The audio is wonky. You have a lot of characters speaking to you throughout the game. A LOT. If you are in a battle when they begin speaking, odds are that unless you have your speakers cranked, you are not going to hear what they have to say. Sure, this is (somewhat) remedied by turning on subtitles, but what if you are in a life or death struggle? You can’t very well read the bottom of the screen. Make no mistake, this is still a very good game. It just has a few flaws that can be remedied for the next game.
The graphics are colorful and have a feel all their own. They almost appear as a storybook come to life. This is not a game where everything is muted and colorless and drab and depressing. It is BRIGHT. I really loved the art style in the game. Take a look at the photos in this review. They are actual screen-shots taken from the game.
I know I focused on the bad a lot, but there is also a lot to love here. The world is huge. The game is huge. Sadly, it takes a little time to get into. It is action packed from the start, but I found I wasn’t all that into the game until around the 30 hour mark or so. At that point, when your character starts becoming powerful and you open up some of the abilities and options (blacksmithing, sagecrafting, alchemy), I found I couldn’t put the game down.
When all is said and done, KoA:R is a very decent intro to a new franchise. Was it the best game of the year? No. Was it damned good for a first time out? Yes. Will I be on the bandwagon for the DLC and subsequent sequels? Darn tootin’ I will. I still prefer the Fable series, but with a little more tweaking, this could be the next great Western RPG. Fable and The Elder Scrolls better watch out. Amalur is here and it is a force to be reckoned with (OH! Now I see why it’s called Reckoning . . . Ok, bad pun. Sorry.)
Note: I realize I did the review for The Legend of Dead Kel before reviewing the actual retail release. I know, it is odd. I actually finished the Kel DLC before completing the retail release. So, that’s the reason that popped up first.