Back in 2012 a new fantasy RPG was released into the realms of gaming; Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. It had the feel of a single player game set in a fantasy MMO world with several different regions to explore, different ways to build your character, and a range of fantasy races depicted throughout, but it’s also been defined by the financial troubles that eventually sank developer 38 Studios. Now, eight years later, THQ Nordic has brought the franchise back with a remaster called Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, potentially laying the foundations for this fantasy world to be revived.
Players are cast as The Fateless One, a person who has no pre-determined fate unlike everyone else in Amalur. Not only does this work to paint a target on your back through the game’s narrative, it also provides the thematic reasoning for your ability to customise your character build. There are three main class types which fall into the Might, Finesse, and Sorcerer categories. Might builds will favour heavy armour and weapons, Finesse relates to a more rogue/stealth build, while Sorcerers are all about the magic. Depending on the fates you unlock and abilities you choose to invest points in, you can mix these builds together. In my own playthrough I decided on a pure sorcerer build, because who wouldn’t want to shoot fire and lightning at enemies?
As your character levels up, skill points can be assigned to abilities such as sagecraft, alchemy, blacksmithing, dispelling, and mercantile. You kind of have to decide early on which ones of these you want to focus on before investing points, so they complement your character build. Your character fate style can also be changed to give access to different perks such as increased mana or better melee weapon damage.
The draw of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is playing a fantasy game that really leans into its setting where elves, gnomes, humans, trolls, and so many others live in a world filled with lore. Areas with ruins tell their story, quest lines can explore relationships between the different groups of the world as well as hunting for treasure, and lorestones discovered in the wild that tell tales of the world coming to life. It is a colourful and varied world found in this game, and you are constantly running into things to do and people to help.
At the same time, it can feel a bit overwhelming in Amalur. Quests stack up quite quickly as you are sent from one place to another while completing other quests, and some can feel a bit repetitive – having to just go and retrieve something from a cave, for example. There is variety with the different factions, though. Join the Warsworn and fight to protect the world or join the Travellers and learn the art of stealth and thievery. At the same time, there is a hint of negative representation here playing into a stereotype that all Irish travellers are thieves.
The biomes found in Amalur are incredibly varied as well. You will start in a forested area but eventually break out into magical areas that are home to the elves, or into great plains and deserts where different factions and creatures live. Throughout the game you will come across new discoveries, and the world itself is vast. Thankfully you can fast travel if you do not fancy trekking from one side of the world to the other.
Those of you expecting a ground up remake with majorly updated graphics need to temper your expectations. There have been some improvements with textures and models, but you can very much tell this is an eight year old game that has had some spit and polish, and not something like Spyro Reignited Trilogy. That said, it does still look good and the world retains that fantasy charm about it. There also haven’t been major changes to the gameplay, but there have been some tweaks under the hood. For example, the randomised loot that you find will be more relevant to your character build.
There were some technical issues while playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. The game crashed twice on my PS4, and hopefully this is addressed in a patch. The camera could be fiddly too and sometimes angle itself so you do not have a clear picture of the action, which is a pain when you are surrounded by enemies who are attacking quickly. In one dungeon I also noticed a group slain enemies T-posing above the ground briefly before all falling again. Well, it was either a bug or my PS4 is very, very haunted…