Review: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur : Reckoning, is a pretty sweet game, but has a lot of potential that it fails to live up to.

First amongst the good stuff is… COMBAT! Fighting and killing monsters and people in this game is incredibly fun and satisfying. Reckoning accomplishes this by employing combo, dodge, and block mechanics reminiscent of the God of War series of action games. The character animations during game play also add to the overall fun of combat in Reckoning.

Another enjoyable aspect of the game is character customization. Unlike a lot of RPGs, Reckoning allows players to change their character’s spec almost totally on the fly, so one day you can play as a mage and the next as a tank or a rogue or something in-between.

Now for the less than fun stuff. Reckoning is really big, which isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case the game is big because its repetitive. Most of the quests are simple fetch quests or dungeon crawls. Many of the enemies and environments are reused with only slight tweaks throughout the entire game: “Oh, so in this castle the long hallway goes left, left, right, left, not right, left, right, left, before you fight the troll and find the magic sword.” You don’t see a new enemy type after hour 15, not counting bosses. Given the way the excellent combat in Reckoning increases the pace at which the game seems to play, the game would have benefited from more variety or a shorter overall length.

 

The only other negative is the disconnect that exists between the game’s narrative and the overall design of the game world. Reckoning is an open world game that encourages the player to travel around the the game world freely and play the game in whatever order they want, but the story is a very straightforward “chosen one” tale. The conversation cut-scenes are poorly animated and include the occasional option to make dialog choices, but the conversations always seem to end with the main character being given the same task to perform. Sometimes NPCs will flat out tell the player that a particular decision is “up to you” then, in the same conversation, tell you that “you will have to do this thing”. In a game that allows almost groundbreaking freedom to spec and re-spec the way your character plays, there is only one way to finish the main quest of the game. This creates some cogitative dissonance and frustration when playing. I found myself skipping conversations to just get back to killing things, which is not my usual play style. Also the costuming for some of the female characters is a little dumb:

 

 We’re supposed to believe this woman fights wearing that outfit while people are shooting lightning and fire out of their hands?

We’re supposed to believe this woman fights wearing that outfit while people are shooting lightning and fire out of their hands?

Ultimately Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a good game: It looks great, its a blast to play, so long as you can ignore the story, and, unlike some other recent open world RPGs, is runs really well, I didn’t need to restart the game due to bugs a single time. But it is disappointing that Reckoning could have been a really GREAT game. If you really like beating up monsters and customizing a character Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning provides a metric ton of what you’re looking for, so have at it. If you play games for the story or to identify with the characters or world of the game you’re playing you’ll probably be mildly disappointed.