in Review

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

As the first title from Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demands comparison. At first look, Reckoning seems very Fable-like, with its quasi-cartoony art style, whimsical score and ambition to combine quality combat with an RPG world. Knowing that Elder Scrolls veteran Ken Rolston designed the game makes all the elements borrowed from that series more apparent. But really, if there’s any single game to compare this to, it would be World of Warcraft. Played solo, forever.

The game begins with the player character dead and then quickly not dead, being revived by a thing called the Well of Souls right before it’s destroyed by evil invaders. This is a world were fate is a very real thing, which everyone accepts and follows. Except for our undead hero, who has become the Fateless One, able to not only determine his or her own destiny, but to change the fates of others. And what does one do with such vast potential? Become the world’s premier errand boy.

Reckoning plays very much like an MMORPG, as fetch quests quickly become the game’s MO. There is a staggering amount of quests to do in the world of Amalur, but most of them just aren’t that interesting to do. Like World of Warcraft, taken individually, the tasks you are given just aren’t that interesting, and I quickly found myself skipping through sidequest dialogue and only completing the jobs that were on my way to the next real mission. The game’s main story is actually really serious and pretty good, as are the faction quests (ala Elder Scrolls) so I recommend you take this approach as well and not let the glut of sidequests dilute your experience.

Where Reckoning really shines is its combat system, which really plays up the fateless aspect of the story. Since you can choose your own destiny, the game lets you spec your character between warrior, rogue and mage trees, or any combination of the three. I spent most of the game as a warrior mage, beating enemies around with a combination of a giant greatsword and magical Frisbess called chakrams, while also blasting foes with spells. The game has a simple combo system that lets you easily combine all your strengths into devastating chain attacks, and, while it’s not quite God of War or Devil May Cry, this is a huge step up from even Skyrim.

The sheer quantity of loot in this game is pretty impressive. There are chests everywhere full of reagents, gear and gear to be broken into reagents. Good stuff can be anywhere, I found legendary items in piles of rocks and hollow logs. So you’ll be spending a lot of Reckoning going through every shiny clump in the area, looking for the next great thing. It doesn’t help that the game’s inventory interface is somewhat lacking, at least on consoles. Not a lot of information is presented at once, and it takes a few too many clicks to get anywhere. But honestly, it’s not really that bad and the game’s junk feature, which lets you put everything you don’t want in one place and sell it all with one click, is pretty great.

I got over 40 hours out of Reckoning, and I still have a shocking number of quests left to complete. Knowing that this game is paving the way for an Amalur MMORPG makes me wish that this game was online in someway. I want to show people my cool spec and all the sweet gear I crafted for myself. I want my accomplishments to matter. Without a controllable party or a fun memorable cast of characters, I feel so alone. It’s not easy being fateless.