Title: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
Available on: Xbox One, PS4
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Roleplaying Game
Official Site: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Where to Buy: PSN, Xbox Live
Kingdoms of Amalur is a franchise with an historic past. It may not have been the biggest or best RPG to release in 2012 but it had a cult following. I, being one of those followers, adored its upbeat fast-based combat, its monolithic amount of lore, and its style.
38 Studios was a new developer with a strong team of writers, animators, and music fit for a game of Dungeons and Dragons. Then it filed for bankruptcy and the future for Amalur was lost. That is until 2020 when THQ Nordic announced the remaster and hope was restored. But was it really?
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning stays true to its predecessor by not changing gameplay, fighting, or mechanics. In that way it feels great to be able to jump back into the world of Amalur fighting trolls. If you’re looking for a game to pour hours into, Amalur is sure to satisfy. Every village, town, or settlement you enter will have at least one side quest for you to explore. And the characters that give them to you are authentic and fully voice acted as well.
Having a full voiceover cast makes Amalur feel alive – even though at times the characters themselves look a bit stiff and blocky. Their arms dangle from their shoulders like uncooked noodles just waiting to be boiled in hot water. When they speak their dead eyes stare into your soul as if pleading for you to release them from their construct bodies. However, not all characters have a lifeless look to them, the important NPCs move more gracefully and have a brighter, more lively face.
Where Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning stands out – and has since the 2012 version – is in its combat. There are a number of weapons and armor to find. Each one is unique in its design and functionality whether it’s a giant hammer, longsword, staff of fire, or faeblae. Fighting brownies and boggarts is just as good as it was on the Xbox 360. Fights are quick, challenging, and sometimes unforgiving. Many times you will be outnumbered by faster beasts or by larger hulking behemoths that hit hard but move slowly.
Eventually you will get into a rhythm with fighting and each one can feel like a chore. More climactic battles like bosses will remain challenging and require precise timing and the right weapons to bring them down. Which – as we’ve said – there are a lot of weapons and plenty of armor, but they can be difficult to manage.
Inventory management is cumbersome and annoying to deal with. It was even bad in Kingdoms of Amalur and unfortunately Re-Reckoning didn’t fix the problem. RPGs like Skyrim had a manageable inventory with an easy to access menu that took one slick or button. Re-Reckoning’s is more akin to a closet that’s just too small to hold all your clothes. And the closet is designed with a door that pulls towards you instead of inside the room itself. Accessing the inventory requires pausing the game and cycling through a few different menus. It isn’t fast, nor is it convenient as it can fill up quite quickly. Though you do have the option to destroy anything you don’t want or need at any moment in the game. There are also backpacks you can find to enhance how many items you can carry.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s graphics are enhanced as well. They have been upgraded to reach 4K. They’re crisper, areas or brighter and well lit, and both cutscenes and gameplay look rather amazing. When compared to the original release where things were fuzzy and sometimes difficult to read or see. Here, clear water flows over stones and boulders into bubbling brooks and ponds. The world is such a nice place to look at that I oftentimes stopped exploring dungeons to enjoy the views. They’re no means the graphics Xbox One reach but they are beautiful nonetheless.
Although there were a few issues with light rays where they followed the camera instead of remaining in one location. I also discovered terrain would pop in and out of view from time to time. Other technical issues revolve around Kingdom of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s camera. It never seems to want to do what you tell it to. During fights it swivels around behind terrain blocking your view and making it much more difficult to see anything. This especially comes into play when you activate reckoning mode, your godlike ability where you go super Saiyan.
The lore of Kingdoms of Amalur is something to truly behold. Its vast history spans a thousand years and can all be learned within the game. All of which was written by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, which can be a bit difficult to get through. Through the main quest, side quests, and exploring its open world, there are thousands of lines of dialogue pertaining to the history of Amalur. NPCs will regale you with tales of yore, or request you find a ring from an ancient dead troll. There are so many things to see and do that you can easily spend more than 100 hours on the side content alone. The main quest is no walk in the park either. By the end you may have put in more than 40 hours.
Verdict: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a remarkable game with an expansive world, fast-paced roguelite-esque combat, and plenty of things to do. Though as a remaster, it doesn’t feel like an updated version of the original game. It still has the flaws it launched with but in a way that’s what makes it stand out. At the end of the day, it’s a fun RPG with a unique story and history that you can relax with. It feels like an old favorite book that you pick up again every year just to feel that nostalgia again.
- Upgraded graphics
- Excellent combat
- Full of lore
- Terrible inventory management
- Lackluster writing