Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Impressions

Well, a year after the whole 38 Studios/State of Rhode Island fiasco I finally got my hands on (rental) the game at the centre of it all: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

Here's a pic of the front/back covers:

Few gameplay screens:

So, controversy aside, how is the game? I'm only eight or so hours in, which isn't much for an RPG, so take everything I say less like a finalized critique (that will come with the review I will likely be writing in a few weeks) and more like well, as the title says, impressions. And impressed I am. 

*crowd groans*

This game draws a lot of comparisons to both the Fable and The Elder Scrolls games. While the former comparison is completely valid, I don't really see the comparisons to TES games (particularly Skyrim as many people have linked it to) as holding much (proverbial) water. This game is much lighter in tone and aesthetics. It's much easier in terms of difficulty. While the story is full of foreboding and looming danger the world and characters that inhabit it are whimsical and full of charm. It's much more akin to Fable than it is any of the Elder Scrolls games in this regard. It's also much more like Fable in terms of the restrictions placed on the player's travel abilities. Most of the Elder Scrolls games have been completely wide open with little to to no navigational restrictions placed on the player. Walk, run, climb, jump or swim; if you see it you can traverse it (or under it). In KOA:R, as is the case with the Fable games, the world is open and you are free to travel across the vast land mass, going from region to various region, towns to dungeons and everything in between, but there are restrictions in the way of the unfortunate "invisible walls," a troupe known to (and hated by many) RPG gamers. 

The combat is also much different than any TES game, and is much more akin to something like a basic third person action game or once again, like Fable. It is fast, allows you to quickly and freely switch between magic, melee and ranged attacks, and allows quick defensive manoeuvres like roll dodging and shield parries (as well as standard blocking). It's much less "realistic" than something like Skyrim tries to portray. It is speedier and much less "weighty". The melee is combo based, although you would be unwise to expect the depth of a Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry. It's very fun though and a definite centrepiece of the game. 

The game features all of the common RPG elements one would expect in a game like this. A focus on loot and a variety of things to do with said loot (blacksmithing, alchemy, buying and selling, pickpocketing and fencing (once you have the requisite mercantile skill level) etc. It's all there and it all seems to work great. The  user interface (UI) is really well thought out, allowing you to, for example, compare the items in a chest to the ones in your inventory right from the chest itself. There is also a 'junk' section of your inventory which is convenient because you can also 'junk' items right from the chests (or dead bodies that you happen to be looting) and once you are dealing with a merchant you can sell all of your junk with one button press. Very convenient stuff. 

The combat is fun, the looting is of course addicting (and not pointless as there is a lot to do with it) there seems to be a TON of quests available, and the map seems like it is a pretty good size, so this game will probably last me at least 50 hours. I will likely be reviewing it in a few weeks time, assuming I can keep playing it in the interim between now and then. The only real downsides so far are the fact that there are those aforementioned invisible walls (hate that) and you can't jump or climb so if you are on a small hill you have to walk around to the place you walked up to get off as opposed to just hopping down. Just little annoyances like that. Oh, and the bugs. The game is a bit buggy, although I have read about more than I have experienced (like I said though, there are many more hours ahead of me than there are behind, so we shall see what I encounter as time goes on). That's really it. Some people will find the world/lore to be generic but that's just a personal preference issue more than it is an objective downside. 


  1. I remember thinking this game had so much promise. You've reaffirmed all of my thoughts on it. If I ever get a 360 again I may check it out.


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