Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is a worthwhile remaster of a underappreciated 2012 classic, sure to keep players enthralled throughout the nearly 100 hours worth of content.
Kingdoms of Amalur was originally released in 2012 to generally positive critical reviews but little fanfare. I am not sure if it was timing, or if the game was just lost in the shuffle, but I’ve been hard pressed to find anybody who completed it upon its original release. Unfortunately, i’m in the latter group – while I was aware of the game’s existence and even played a demo – I just never found the time to play through the game proper. Thankfully, the remaster came around at an excellent time, allowing me to finally hop into the world of Amalur and see what I had been missing.
And oh man, I had no idea just how much I had missed. Kingdoms of Amalur is huge, filled to the brim with hundreds of tasks, quests, and faction missions. The world is loaded with interesting characters and lore while also boasting a wide range of terrains and areas to explore. At first the sheer size of the map and the incredible amount of missions thrown at you at every turn is almost overwhelming. Thankfully, Amalur has a great fast travel system and quest log, helping players keep track of which missions are main story or DLC related, side missions, faction missions, or tasks to undertake. I found myself tackling a few side missions in-between every main mission to help give my character a boost in terms of skills and never found myself bored with even the smallest of missions, due to the likable characters and back stories.
For those who did not play Amalur the first time around, the story revolves around an individual brought back to life by the Well of Souls, Fomorous Hugue’s incredible invention which catches the souls of the dead and attempts to restore their soul to a replica body. Despite Hugues dedicating his life to the project, the Well of Souls had never worked – until now. Of course, no sooner are you brought back to life then you are ambushed by the Tuatha – an evil sect of the Fae, an immortal race – led by Gadflow, a fallen Fae, who has waged a war against mortals for the past ten years.
Luckily, your death and reincarnation seems to have altered the flow of time, allowing you to be the only individual in the world without a predetermined fate. You quickly find that you are able to change other’s fates as well, and set off on a mission to save the world from Gadflow and the Tuatha accompanied by Agarth, a Fateweaver, and an ever-rotating yet delightful cast of characters.
Before you begin your adventure you are able to use a pretty robust character creator where you will choose your gender and race. Races include Almain, Varani, Ljosalfar, and Dokkalfar. Each has a set of racial bonuses such as stealth, lockpicking, persuasion, alchemy, blacksmithing, etc. You can behold to a God to get specific bonuses such as armor, physical damage, experience boosts, resistance to elements, etc. Don’t put too much worry into which skills you allow your character to begin with, as you can become anything you want as the game progresses.
After a quick tutorial you are let loose in the huge world of Amalur and can choose to tackle missions immediately, explore, or find side quests to conquer. From the moment you enter its world, you are surrounded by things to see, places to visit, and people to help. While you can explore anywhere from the start, there are areas you can stumble upon in which you would be under leveled. Thankfully the game does a great job indicating these areas to you by having enemies’ names appear in red over their head, allowing you time to run before being ambushed. Overall though, the game is fairly balanced for all levels and has been tweaked to be more fair to players as they enter new areas.
Kingdoms of Amalur continually throws weapons and craft materials at you, allowing you to frequently switch up your playstyle. When you’re not out adventuring you can craft gems which can be socketed on your weapons and armor to add various attributes to the items, create new pieces of armor and weapons at a blacksmithing table, or experiment with potion crafting at an alchemy table. There is an endless supply of materials available to purchase or find and an insane amount of items you can craft. Or, if you’re like me, you can skip most of this portion all together and just stick with the items found throughout the campaign – but I appreciate the depth added to the game by these various features and I know many out there will take the time necessary to truly experiment.
As you progress you will gain XP which will allow you to level up in multiple different ways. First, you are given one point to spend on Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Detect Hidden, Dispelling, Lockpicking, Mercantile, Persuasion, Sagecraft, or Stealth. Afterwards, you will be given three points to put toward Might, Finesse, or Sorcery abilities. Finally, you can choose one of your unlocked destinies to align with, which provides you with a variety of bonus attributes.
The core of the game is centered around melee or magic fighting. For each enemy defeated your fate meter fills, when it is full you can enter reckoning mode which greatly increases your speed and attack power. Every enemy defeated in reckoning mode becomes unraveled and you can then use a fateshift attack to immediately destroy every unraveled enemy at once and receive a large XP boost. Reckoning mode is great and almost too powerful – when used at the correct moment you can overcome bosses with next to no worry. Thankfully this is not to the game’s detriment, if anything this ability helps make you feel like you really are Amalur’s savior, a nigh unstoppable force destined to alter the fate of all you encounter.
There are a variety of merchants scattered throughout Amalur, including blacksmiths, crafters, healers, and fateweavers. Fateweavers can unbind your destiny and reset your skill points for a fee. Healers can restore you to full health, lift curses, and cure diseases – which will come in handy since attempting to open a cursed chest without having the appropriate points allotted to the dispelling skill will almost certainly get your cursed.
Unfortunately, your weapons and armor degrade with use and must be repaired either with a repair kit or at a repairer in town. Repair kits are by far the cheaper option, so be sure to stock up on repair kits anytime you stumble across one. I’ve never been a fan of degrading items in video games, but thankfully the degradation is slow in Amalur and rarely was any cause for concern.
A game of Amalur’s length must have a solid story to stand on otherwise it would crumble under its own weight. Thankfully, Amalur’s story serves the world well, giving you compelling reasons to explore and a wide range of impressive characters to accompany you on your journey.
As for the technical details of the remaster, the game – while not given a complete graphical overhaul – does look miles better than its original release. The colors are vivid, the graphics are bright and sharp, and the game plays at a steady framerate throughout. At times, especially in some of the more detailed cities, the game is almost on par with current gen. It is a faithful remaster or an already great game, chock full of quests to complete, and packed with two full DLC packs. In a surprising bit of news it seems that a new DLC – called Fatesworn – will be released in 2021.
Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a wonderful remake of an already exceptional game. Sure, there are a few technical hiccups from time to time and some of the quests fill like filler, but at the same time sometimes that’s all I want. When I feel like just killing time in Amalur’s world, I run around handling tasks and side missions – when I have time to focus and want to progress the story then I tackle the main quests. If you want to tackle only the main story, you’re looking at 25 to 30 hours of play time, with an additional 10 or so hours for each DLC. The side quests, tasks, arenas, and huge world will offer another 50 hours or so of playtime to experience everything.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is well worth revisiting, or – if you’re like me – visiting for the first time.