As games progress and evolve, experiences largely change. It isn’t uncommon to see a genre go from being extremely popular to somewhat dead to great experiences that weren’t made to last. This is unfortunate for a lot of games, as there are a lot of things that are not built to last. Remasters largely exist to address these concerns, in addition to various improvements. With a lack of real dialogue-heavy RPGs, similar to Elder Scrolls, on current generation consoles, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning sounds like a win but can it stand the test of time or was it better left in the past?
Like a lot of large spanning RPGs, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning has a simple story that branches into a far deeper world. Here you play as a player-created character that seems to play a larger role in an ongoing war between the various races, with no memory of their life prior to being revived. It’s thought the one who brought you back might have some answers, which doesn’t end up being true but gets you outside to a world you’re free to run around, explore and adventure through to find out what lead to your untimely demise and break free from the path dictated by faith.
Despite the rather simple core narrative, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning has plenty of lore and side tasks to fill your time. Occasionally the sheer number of options can be extremely overwhelming, I believe certain NPCs will give you five or more dialogue options and you can send a good hour just reading about the various races, their struggles, plus the issues various groups face. Fans of this level of detail will love it, with others finding it a bit much. Even without exhausting every option, you can enjoy it, just in a more mechanical sense. Things are told to you rather directly, with everything else adding a narrative to latch onto. Not to mention, skipping certain parts will make it harder to understand later parts. Regardless of how invested, you are in the story, this is a game that follows a lot of very traditional RPG elements.
Before you can worry about the narrative or fighting your way through Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning, you need to make your character. This starts with various races, each that have their own starting bonuses, unique look, and design elements. Each race gets a good number of faces, designs, accessories, and the ability to alter a good number of things to make them your own. At the time it was a rather robust system, whereas it feels a bit dated design way and somewhat limited next to even later options last-generation. Still, once you’ve decided on a design, your adventure begins with a rather simple tutorial on what this adventure is all about.
As an action RPG, most of the depth comes from how you play and exploiting weaknesses. For example, certain weapons can stealth kill, there are bows for distance and magic that can greatly damage certain enemies if approached correctly. Players are also given a shield to block incoming attacks, along with a dodge roll for faster-paced combat. Unfortunately, enemies are a bit on the dumb side, often coming out ahead through overwhelming health or numbers. With a properly leveled character and a good understanding of how you want to play, you can overcome a lot of things but this all plays into an engagement.
Given weapons and armor have a durability stat, not to mention your desire to run, grind, explore and complete quests will largely dictate the type of gear and power your character obtains, it’s certainly an adventure that favors the dedicated. That said, there are enough mechanics and elements to find various advantages that stem from how you play, over how much you’ve played. Simply using fire on spiders over a sword, even if the said sword is much more powerful, can often bridge that gap. Now, the ideal is doing both but the point is you don’t need to grind as much if you play smarter, not harder.
Unfortunately, all of this depth makes Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning less accessible and somewhat overwhelming. With crafting, the need to repair and replace gear constantly, a good number of skills and powers to unlock through leveling, non-hostile enemies that give resources and so much more, you’re going to invest a good amount of time just learning things over just jumping in to play. Thankfully, the tutorials are rather plentiful, they can just be spaced out a bit. Good from a design perspective, as it would be extremely overwhelming if given upfront but don’t be shocked if you’re doing several things wrong before you know better.
All this being said, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is a rather rough remaster. Instead of improving the base game to make it closer to current standards or add a new coat of paint, it feels like a more direct port with some improvements. Due to this it can often look dated or have design conventions that were common around a decade ago. It isn’t enough to ruin the experience or change things but it is something you might want to consider before buying.
Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning Review – Verdict
Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning will appeal to a certain demographic over your average fan. If you didn’t play the first one and wanted something like Elder Scrolls, it’s a solid buy. It’s also great for anyone looking for an RPG that isn’t an MMO that you can invest a lot of time in and just enjoy the world. The combat does make it a bit more open, as it’s less tactical and more reflex driven but also has the depth if you want it. Once you get past the rather dated look, it’s still a pretty good experience.
[Editor’s Note: Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning was reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]