Kingdom of Amalur has had a bit of a tumultuous life which saw developers 38 Studios and Big Huge Games suffer from financial troubles, staff lay-offs, and years of court cases. The IP was eventually sold off to THQ Nordic and after a couple years of silence we are finally getting a remaster of this often-overlooked action-RPG. While KoA has its faults, it does so many things right, including a flexible leveling system, fluid combat, and a gripping story.
The game begins by telling you about the war that’s going on between the Tuatha, an evil immortal fae race, and the rest of the mortal races of Amalur. As you can imagine, things have not been going particularly well for the mortals. In fact, the game literally begins with your death. All hope is not lost however as the gnomes have been experimenting with trying to bring people back from the dead and you are their first success.
Kingdom of Amalur Re-Reckoning Review – Re-writing Destiny
You are the Fateless one. By being resurrected you have broken free from the binds of fate and, unlike other inhabitants of the world, you no longer have a pre-determined destiny. This means that there might finally be a chance to change the course of the war. What follows is a riveting story filled with political intrigue and dark magic. The game has definitely been inspired by series such as the Elder Scrolls and Lord of the Rings and it’s seriously impressive the sheer amount of detailed world lore that has been created.
It all just feels so expansive and like you’re really encouraged to explore both the story and the huge open world at your own pace. Wherever you wander it never feels like you’re far from stumbling on to a new quest or dungeon to explore. There are six different factions to join, each with their own engrossing storyline as well as lots of interesting sidequests. It’s so easy to get side tracked on your quest to save Amalur.
Of course having a great story and plenty of quests is pointless if the gameplay isn’t up to scratch. Thankfully, KoARR delivers the goods. The combat is incredibly fluid and feels really satisfying thanks to it’s flashy abilities and fast-paced action. There are three skill trees that you can invest in, Rogue, Mage, or Warrior, but your role isn’t fixed. It’s completely up to you if you want to invest all your skill points in one tree or if you want a mix between all three.
You’re also never locked into these decisions and can reset all skills and experiment with a different build whenever you like. It feels like there’s no wrong way to level-up a character and playing as a hybrid is incredibly fun. The combat feels really versatile and with the ability to equip multiple weapons it’s easy to become the stealthy warrior mage you’ve always wanted to be.
There’s also a hell of a lot of loot to find. Everywhere you go, you’ll end up finding chests and hidden caches filled with plenty of treasure. It’s always fun to find a brand new set of armor which changes your style and makes you look like a badass. The inventory system is a little painful to begin with as your backpack never seems to be big enough considering the sheer amount of stuff you come across and the amount of quest related items that fill up your inventory. Thankfully you will occasionally come across vendors who sell additional bag space as well as eventually owning properties where you can stash your valuables.
Kingdom of Amalur Re-Reckoning Review – Old and New
One of the things that was previously criticized about the game is that it could end up feeling quite easy. Each area had a level range, and enemies would permanently lock to whatever level was closest to yours when you first entered that area. This meant that if you did too much exploring early on then you could easily end up locking areas into a low level making them a bit dull to play through. This has been changed in Re-Reckoning so that the area level resets every time you re-enter. This is great as it means that you can now run around exploring and follow whatever quest line interests you, without worrying about making the game too easy. There’s also a new Very Hard difficulty, if you fancy even more of a challenge.
There are all the usual environments that you’d expect from a fantasy game like this, with plenty of moody looking forests, rocky deserts, and cloying swamps. The game uses a very vivid and colorful palette but it doesn’t look like it’s been tweaked much when compared to the original release. It still looks like a game from the PS3 era, but a very pretty and enticing one. The one thing that will definitely remind you that this game is eight years old though are the facial animations – they do look a little wooden and dated.
The game does unfortunately still suffer from some other issues that also plagued the 2012 release; with occasion frame rate drops during combat, as well as some pop-in for objects and textures. The most annoying issue though is the extensive load times. Whenever you fast travel between areas or enter a building you’ll end up waiting anywhere from a few seconds to upwards of a minute. This really breaks you out of your immersion when you just want to pop back into town to sell off some loot or quickly complete some quests.
Kingdom of Amalur Re-Reckoning Review – To the Future
We’ll have to wait until next year for THQ Nordic to release the brand new DLC expansion, called Fatesworn, but until then you can explore the two previously released DLC’s – Teeth of Naros & Legend of Dead Kel. Both take you to new areas to adventure in. You’ll get to meet new friends, hunt pirates, explore a floating city, as well as restore your own upgradeable keep. They both have their own unique storylines to complete as well as new armour and weapon sets to collect. Both of them add hours more enjoyable content to your adventure and are well worth your time.
There really is so much quality content in this game. If you just stick to the main quest line then you could probably finish the game within 20 hours or so, but if you want to complete every faction storyline, all side quests, as well as the two DLC areas then you’re looking at anywhere between 150-200 hours, depending on how much gathering and exploring you do. Sure, some of the quests are just repetitive fetch quests but there are plenty that tell their own unique tale and will hold your attention throughout.
Whether you played this back in 2012 or missed it the first time around, this is definitely an action-RPG worth experiencing. The fluid combat, gripping story, and detailed lore makes this a thoroughly enjoyable experience. There’s not a lot of new stuff been added but the tweaks to the area level system and new difficulty are very welcome additions. Now is the perfect time to refresh your memory of this delightful adventure and get ready for the expansion next year.
Kingdom of Amalur: Re-Reckoning review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.