In a sea of great western RPG’s, it’s difficult to make when you’re an emerging franchise. However, with big names like Oblivion designer ken Rolston and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane , 38 studios has thrown all their creative effort behind pushing out a new intellectual property (IP) by the name of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Bringing a whole new concept of RPGs to the table, the game certainly holds its weight and comes off as a promising new play.
The narrative of Reckoning is built on a grand scale. You start game as a warrior who was presumed dead and is brought back to life through the mysterious artifact known as the “well of souls”. As you are told of your importance in the grand experiment that resurrected you, you are attacked by the Tuatha, a race that has unleashed chaos upon the realm of Amalur. Since your destiny has been changed upon resurrection. It soon becomes apparent that your character plays a key role in restoring order to the world. Thus begins your quest to vanquish the foes of the mortal world. The story here is deep and infused with fantasy lore that goes well out of its way to craft the world around you. Those who choose to invest in the story, in spite of the absurd amount of quests at your disposal, will find a well-structured narrative that manages to impress as well as entertain.
Reckoning takes a whole lot of its structure from standard RPG and massively-multiplayer online (MMO) games, seeing as how the game was originally designed to be an MMO. The world of Amalur is huge, with various towns to visit and quests to undertake. The quests can range from standard fetch/slay undertakings to lengthier missions that game seem focus has been put into making the game seem unconventional, but it still manages to play it safe in some areas. For instance, the loot that you gain within the game is plentiful, so you won’t feel a shortage for items and gold when you venture out into the world. The quests themselves are abundant for any particular area you visit, so you won’t be at a loss for things to do even if you choose not to follow the main story. Side missions are so engaging that it’s easy to lose track of your primary objective in the game. When leveling up, players are given two different set of points; one set allows them to hone any specific skill such as alchemy and blacksmithing, while the other can be freely disturbed between the three distinct talent trees of sorcery, might and finesse to unlock new abilities. These ability points eventually allow you to create a custom class for your character, which is a novel feature for such a game. Spending your points across the board unlocks different “destiny” cards that grant additional bonuses for your character of choice. It’s these feature that bring out the creative liberty that players can enjoy within the game.
You can have a mage who dishes out heavy damage and acts as a tank, or a melee-focused warrior pulling double duty as a healer. The possibilities are endless and mix-matching custom configurations make the system highly rewarding. One of the most defining aspects of Reckoning is the combat system implemented in the game. The combat is fast-paced and action-packed, resembling hack-n-slash games like Devil May Cry and God of War, complete with quick-time events for bonus experience points. Inputs here depend on timing rather than mindless button mashing, which gives the system plenty of breadth to incorporate various moves. Players can equip primary and secondary weapons and use them in tandem when on the battlefield, be they long swords, daggers, staffs or chakrams. There are few boss encounters in the game, and while not wholly original, have some decent design to them.
Audio and visuals
When it comes to the sights and sounds of Reckoning, you’ll mostly be left with a split opinion. The environment are varied and colorful, though they do feel constricted and not at par with other open-ended RPGs of recent times. Character models have that fantasy-world touch to them, though most seem of a different design philosophy. The game goes the distance with effects, exploding with color when a special is cast. This however does cause some odd stuttering and frame-rate drops most of the time, and the game is occasionally married with strange glitches such as missing dialogue and camera issues. Voice work is of genuinely good quality, with plenty of accents and enough earnestness to sell you on the fantasy world.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a decent first chapter in what is looking to be a new franchise in the RPG genre. The rich setting and unconventional, yet rewarding game play certainly sets it apart from the competition. Also, despite the lack of polish, it has hypnotic quality of pulling you into its vast world for a truly gratifying adventure.