Kingdoms of Amalur's: Reckoning was a revelation when it was released in 2012. It was a huge, complex game with new mechanics and ideas. The story is rich with lore and character creation. And the combat system is more flexible and customizable than any other RPG. It was a breath of fresh air after Skyrim, another fan favorite.
2020, the gaming world has changed. The stakes are greater, sometimes resulting in less variety and creativity. 38 Studios and Big Huge Games' turbulent fates have been well documented. Many of the original ideas and mechanics that were so new in Amalur have either become standard practice or been abandoned entirely as the medium evolves and in some cases, devolved.
Was the timing right for Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning to be released? It landed in a year full of remakes and remasters. But you have to wonder how many people will notice that it is back.
This game was created by an incredible amount of talent. R. A. Salvatore (of Forgotten Realms fame) wrote the game. He was also the one who gave us Drizzt. Todd McFarlane brought the story to life. Grant Kirkhope scored the music. Amalur was a labor of love, and every moment felt like it.
It takes place in a rich fantasy universe that is home to both mortals as well as a few elf-like Fae races. These Fae have learned how to manipulate Fate's "weave" and can relive their lives endlessly, while mortal races are completely controlled by Destiny. Gadflow, a powerful Fae, is trying to take over the world as the Dark God Tirnoch. Your character is a revenant. It was brought back to life using a device called The Well of Souls and now exists beyond the tapestry of Fate. The Fae cannot predict your future so you are uniquely prepared to fight Gadflow and his army. You are the Fateless One and it is your mission to unify the people of Amalur, defeat the Winter Court, and become the Fateless One.
It's a good story structure, even though Reckoning does quickly bury it under mountains of side quests. Your Fateless One, assisted by several characters and their factions is anything but in control of their destiny as you are constantly being bounced from one pillar to the next throughout the campaign. You won't mind the vast, lore-filled world you have to explore. Your character is dropped in the world with scavenged weapons and armor, no memory and very few allies. It's up you to make them what you want.
Reckoning's classless system was revolutionary for an Action RPG at the time it was released. Instead of being locked into one class, skill points will be invested into three trees that are governed by the attributes Might, Magic, and Finesse. Each tree contains 20 skills, abilities, or buffs. You can specialize or generalize as you wish. Character points can also be earned that can be used for practical skills such as Blacksmithing and Lockpicking, Persuasion, Alchemy, and Persuasion. These skills will make a huge difference in how your character progresses. They can be used to craft potions, increase your stats or create new weapons and armor. Respeccing is easy. This is especially true if you are in the later game. There is a level limit for crafting buff potions or gems. However, it is not a barrier to using them. You could also respec temporarily to get the items you need, then respec again to reap the rewards. Although it isn't game-breaking, it can make some skills seem less important when you have the ability to bypass the system.
The Destinies are what make Reckoning's character development truly fascinating, even beyond the relatively low level cap of 40. Destinies are cards that allow you to choose specific builds or combine them. If you want to build a pure magician, you might choose to be a Sage, or a Seer. You could also mix Finesse and Might to make a Warden. You can change the system for little more than gold when you find the Fateweaver. This allows you to explore all possibilities and switch up your play style if necessary.
These Destinies are more tied to combat than anything else, and Reckoning's live-action combat is great fun. It is fast and fluid and can be used in many different styles. Two weapons can be equipped simultaneously, along with a shield. A controller controls the primary weapon by using X or Square, and the secondary weapon by using Y or Triangle. The abilities menu will open when you hold the trigger right. There are four skills and spells that can be mapped to your face buttons. You can mix and match weapons however you like.
Finesse might include twin daggers, a bow and possibly a longsword for a Might build. A staff and a scepter could be useful for a mage. Perhaps your mage prefers to do some physical damage close up, so a staff with daggers and a scepter would be useful. Maybe your warrior prefers ranged damage to avoid getting too close. You'll later unlock Fae Blades or Chakrams to enhance the experience. Although the system isn't new in today's market it feels very familiar. However, it was revolutionary in 2012. It allowed for responsive combat with bosses and grunt enemies.
Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning combat is an enjoyable experience. The framerate has been improved and the lighting effects have added razzle to make it even more exciting. Your shield can perform time sensitive parries that slow down time for a heartbeat. A handy dodge roll, or a cool teleport maneuver if you are a magic-user, will get you out of trouble. You'll eventually build up a meter which will allow you to unleash Reckoning Mode. This slows down enemies and increases damage. It also lets you finish off hapless foes with a stunning and stylish finisher.
Kingdoms of Amalur has always been a beautiful game. But Re-Reckoning is even more stunning. This is the exact same game, just re-textured and upgraded. It's not as modern, but it's still beautiful. The world is alive with vibrant colors and large assets. Enhanced character models and a faster framerate (though not perfect) make this a game that stands out today.
Many of the larger changes are more subtle. There hasn't been an increase in the level cap, additional enemies or areas. However, it has been improved to be more balanced. You'll now find less random loot not related to your build. After so many complaints about the original, there's now an extremely hard difficulty. Areas no longer lock to character level. This means you can still grind to get out-level areas, but you won't be overpowered in late-game zones.
Kingdoms of Amalur has been a favorite at PJ's for a long time. Re-Reckoning is an excellent remaster, even though it doesn't do much to improve on what was already there. Although there is new content, it's not surprising that I feel it would have been more beneficial to have the remaster ship already loaded with the new content. It's still a satisfying Action-RPG that feels fresh and current. Even for those who have played the original, Re-Reckoning can be a rewarding experience. New players will enjoy the exciting combat and flexible classes. Although it may not be the best remake of the year Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning can be a beautiful, dense, and charming adventure.