Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a remaster of the cult hit single player, third person action role-playing game, originally released in 2012. It was developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios. It started out as an MMO, however during development the decision for a more role-playing action game was made. It has a strong team, with Ken Rolston, the lead designer of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion as the exclusive designer. The game universe and lore were written by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn worked on the artwork. After the fall of 38 games, THQ Nordic announced on September 2018 that it acquired the intellectual property of Kingdoms of Amalur and that it is working on a remastered version for release in 2020 developed by Kaiko, the company behind the Darksiders’ remasters.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is set in a fictional world called the Faelands, the home of the immortal Fae of the summer and winter courts. But here, immortality does not mean not able to die, however their essence is reborn within a different body. The Faelands is made up of 5 separate regions, the forests of Dalentarth, the plains of Erathell, the canyon territories of Detyre, the marshes of Klurikon and the crystal kingdom of Alabastra. The story follows The Fateless One, the player’s character who had previously died just before the game starting and brought back to life by an experimental Well of Souls that is being conducted by the gnome scientist Fomorous Hugues. This was the first and only success of the Well of Souls and this is where the game starts the player, as they wake up from being dead. During this time, the well of souls is being attacked and destroyed by the faction Tuatha Deohn. The fateless one is then reunited with the scientist Fomorous Hugues who then distracts the attacking force so the fateless one could escape to meet up with a fateweaver. The fateweavers can look into an individual’s future and tell what they see and the individual’s eventual death. Upon meeting a fateweaver named Agarth, it is learnt that the fateless one has no memory of their life before their death and Agarth says that he can not tell their fate and that they are to make their own fate. This is the players journey through Re-Reckoning, to uncover the truth about how they died before being brought back to life by the well and by relocating the gnome scientist Hugues who could hold the key into the answers.
When starting, the player chooses the difficulty, with Re-Reckoning adding a very hard mode for those wanting a tougher experience. The player is then put into an introduction cutscene, explaining the current events in the game and the character screen follows where the player chooses race, gender, appearance and perks.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning has four playable races for the player to choose from. Almain and Varani are the human classes and Dokkalfar and Ljosalfar are the elves. All races have their own racial bonus perks:
- Almain who are the warlike humans have improved blacksmithing, alchemy and persuasion.
- Varani who are more mercenaries and pirates have improved detect hidden items, mercantile and lockpicking.
- Dokkalfar who are the dark elves who are known for being sophisticated students of magic and diplomacy have improved stealth, persuasion and sagecraft.
- Ljosalfar who are an ancient race from the northlands and use magic and have improved dispelling, alchemy and sagecraft.
After picking the race, the player is able to pick from 5 perks or opt for none. These perks are Fire, Wisdom, War, Order, Justice or None and they give the player a little bonus stats such as fire perk gives +6% fire damage +6% fire resistance. Other perks give health bonus, mana bonus and other damage bonuses. For all those that go for the None perk, they do get bonus XP% gain throughout the game.
When the player chooses their race, they then have the ability to character customise, picking female or male, a few different faces, hair styles, eye colour, skin tone, tattoos and piercings, everything that is standard in role-playing game. There were a few graphical glitches where piercings meant to be in the middle of the lip, ended up being in the side of jawbone.
After customisation, the first area entered is the Well of Souls that acts as a tutorial area, teaching the player how to use and try out each type of a weapon, which include swords, daggers, bows and staffs. This is where the game teaches the games fighting controls offence and defense. The player moves through each room killing enemies which consist of the traditional giant rats, spiders and the Tuatha Deohn. The player will meet their first mini boss battle in the game, allowing the player to use newly learned skills and test new weapons. After that, the character leaves the area and is now in the main game world. Giving access to main missions and side quests. It helps exploring to come across plants for materials, chests with weapons or armor. Enemies scaling to the level of the character and it felt good, especially earlier on, not to challenging and not too easy.
The game has three skills trees, Might (the warrior), Finesse (the rogue) and Sorcery (the mage). There allow the player to choose how they want to play and with the weapons they are comfortable with. The choice is up to the player, whether they spec into one whole tree or play around and make a character that can do a bit of everything. This determines what sort of character, base and combat abilities are. These can also be changed throughout the game if the player has unlocked them. The player can also re-spec all their characters ability points at a Fateweaver for a fee of gold. The character skill trees menu is clean and easy to understand.
There is not much of an upgrade in regard to graphics for Re-Reckoning, the added field of view slider is a nice addition, but the upgrades feel very minimal. Other than higher resolution, I was expecting a bit more. The graphics still stand well against other role-playing games and it does not take away from the experience. The world is full of colour, is vibrant and maintains its cartoonlike art style, which suits this game. Unfortunately, texture pop in happens quite often and there were multiple times where the frame rate dropped during battles that saw me slash away hoping for the best during a jittery mess on screen.
The sound is also untouched and kept as it was back in 2012, the score of the game is amazing, from the epic music when entering a battle to wondering around exploring with smoother and softer music. The voice acting is solid, however the lip-syncing of characters seemed off in many instances.
Gameplay is smooth for the most part, the game takes a more arcade feel towards combat but it works for Kingdoms of Amalur. Combat is fluid and the ability to swap between equipped weapons is seamless. In some battles the camera got stuck on a weird angle that lead to a few lost battles.
There is a ton of things to do, main story, side quests, faction quests etc, and this is all before delving into the added DLC. The game has an autosave function, as well as the ability to pause at any time when needed to look at the menu and save the game manually. The player also has the ability to change the difficulty of the game, if they feel it is a little easy or too hard. There is no upgrade to the menu system, the amount of time going to the menu then to the character menu to check my gear just felt too long, even longer if I also wanted to check my stats, requiring me to go back to the menu and then going to my stats menu. The loot in generous, so constantly having to navigate through the menu screen becomes tedious at times. This could have done with an upgrade to make it more seamless and less time consuming. It risks taking the player out of the immersion. Another feature that also takes its time is the loading screens, load times are long and at times seem very pointless with today’s standard.
Jenn for One More Game
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 and is available on Xbox One and PC.
The publisher provided code for this review. Our thoughts on this game are ours and ours alone.