In 2012, a bestselling author by the name of R.A. Salvatore who gave us one of the greatest characters of all time in Forgotten Realms‘ Drizzt Do’Urden, joined forces with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Lead Designer Ken Rolston. These three great minds came together and gave us one of the best RPG games of that time with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. And boy did it deliver on exactly everything that it had promised.
From a pitch-perfect fantasy RPG that was easy to pick up but harder than Hades to master. The world was vast and awe-inspiring, offering genre fans rich history and lore. The character development kept you involved from choosing your own path for your own play style. After a few months from release, the company that created this amazing game, 38 Studios, ended up going under and the Kingdoms of Amalur IP was lost in limbo.
Now skip forward about 6 years and a huge announcement that came from THQ Nordic. They stated that they purchased the rights to Kingdoms of Amalur and then they released a CGI trailer showing that a remaster was in the works. It looked like it was going to blow my mind away with new upgraded graphics and unbelievable shadowing. It made the game look and feel like they put so much work into making it for the year 2020 and I couldn’t wait. Then the day finally came for the release of what I was hoping to be a recreation of a great and exciting RPG world where I could spend countless hours exploring all over again.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning took me back 12 years ago, from start to finish. After putting in over 10+ hours of game time it still has that feel of one of the best-underrated RPG games to ever be created. The character creation is still a thought-out process. If you know what kind of character you wish to play as then you can plan for it like any other game. If you want to be a sword and board player, then you should pick a certain race. If your interests are into finding hidden treasures and lock picking then you should pick another race or if you are a mage waiting to be released on the world, then another choice is clear. The best thing about this game is just because you create your character doesn’t mean you have to stay on that certain path.
You get the privilege as you play to learn the 3 basic classes of a warrior, rogue, and mage. You then can use different weapons and see how it will affect your gameplay experience. Also, you will learn specific skills as you play to help you become more familiar with your combat skills. As you level up, you can put points into 3 different trees to unlock other abilities and mold your character more towards your play style. Later on in the game, you will unlock cards to guide your character to a more direct path: i.e. a rogue could become a scout or a ranger, and then later on you can even branch out to also be a spell caster to a battle mage. The path you take and make remains your own and there is no wrong choice because the character is all yours.
The combat system for me is by far one of the high points for this game. I get the feel of Dark Souls mashed up with Skyrim and a dash of AD&D. The dodge and parry effects that keep you from being smashed to death from the first boss alone gives you the feeling that at any time you can die. Powering up your skills to pull off special attacks makes the game motivating to see what else you can unlock.
Another great thing about this release is that they removed zone requirements that were back in the original. If you were not a specific level, you could not go into a certain zone. The remaster removed that issue and made the zone level with you. So, you get to explore more without the need for hand-holding. Exploring is by far one of my favorite things. Running around finding reagents in plants and such, finding treasure chests and locked chests to try to lock pick never gets old. Fighting wild creatures for a chance for some magical loot to drop is equally exciting. It is everything you want in an open-world game to run around and explore.
Unfortunately for me, that is about where all the positives stop. When I started the game and I saw how it looked, I had to double-check to make sure I was playing the new 2020 game. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is almost the exact same game from 2012. There are no upgraded graphics, shadowing, or anything that the CGI lead me to believe that it would be when it was released back in 2018. The animation when speaking to NPC’s is the exact same as what it was back then, such as the lips on the NPC’s don’t line up to the dialogue. The conversation choices leave you lacking, with one-word responses and the NPC will in return give you a 4-sentence response back for your one word.
I had multiple video issues with the cinematics on the ones that I was able to watch without the game freezing. One issue was that I had a mirroring effect where the character was moving but his exact same movement was following about a half-second behind. There were also issues when it came to combat. The camera was at an off-angle so I could not see the other attackers coming at me. A few times when I was saving the game to exit back to my desktop, I had to do it 2 or 3 times to get the program to save.
These are minor things from time to time and they only affected the game for just a bit. However, for a game that is to be remastered for the modern era, it was a huge letdown. Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is a solid RPG from 2012 that was frozen in time when 38 Studios went under and then was just dethawed to be released in 2020. However, I am very openminded with the future of the game. It was announced that in 2021, a new add-on will be released for the game called Fatesworn. It is stating that it will have an additional 5+ hours of game time for us. I am hoping that this remastered release will get a huge upgrade when the new add-on becomes available, which I hope includes an update to the graphics. The game has a great base to work with albeit the same base from 2012. There is a lot of potential here and I am hoping to see great things moving forward.
Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is available on Steam right now for 2 different prices: $35.99 for the original and $49.49 for the Fate Edition which includes the soundtrack and the upcoming add-on Fatesworn. The PS4 and Xbox One versions are also on sale now. Both have multiple editions for different pricing as well. If you have the original game from 2012, then I would hold off on purchasing this until the new add-on launches so you see firsthand if anything has been changed to reflect the modern world of gaming. However, if you have never played the original or you no longer have it, then this game is a must for any person who would love to have an open-world RPG that takes skill and some luck to beat but is easily enjoyable.