Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: THQ Nordic
Publisher: THQ Nordic
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Reborn outside of the threads of fate, you as the “Fateless One” find yourself in a world you have no previous knowledge of. As you travel across the war-torn lands performing daring acts of kindness or horrific acts of selfishness, the fate of everyone that you encounter separates from the fabrics of fate and time in which the world relies on. Can you be the one who brings peace to the Kingdoms of Amalur?
The original “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” was released in early 2012 and gained more fame and notoriety for the legal battles that ensued after its release than for its innovative gameplay and fantastic storyline. After years in legal limbo, THQ Nordic gained the rights to the franchise and got to work on a remaster of the original game current generation consoles and PCs.
Released in an era of excellent third-person action RPGs like “Dragon Age: Origins”, “Dragon Age: II”, “The Witcher 2” and “Dragon’s Dogma”…”Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” stood out for its innovative combat system, unique way of leveling up a character and a rich story of fate and a human/elven war that has lasted for over a decade. There were numerous quests in which you could complete in any order and at any time even if that meant traversing the entire map just to find a simple scroll. Enemies now scale with you when you enter certain zones so the fear of being one-shotted by a sprite is gone.
As you leveled up you gained XP and points that you could put into three classes…Might, Finesse and Sorcery, each with weapon bonuses, unique spells or buffs but all worked together to shape your character into whatever specific build you felt more comfortable playing. If you didn’t like your build, you could pay a fee to a “fateweaver” and reset all of your build points and try something new.
With the remastered release of “Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning”, you’ll find some minor graphical and gameplay fixes as well as a game that is meant to run much smoother on current gen consoles. “Re-Reckoning” isn’t a complete rework like the remasters of the “Crash Bandicoot” franchise, “Destroy All Humans!” or the newest “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” release. Instead, you’ll find some adjustments to the brightness and contrast as well as framerate speed fixes. Unfortunately, in-game characters still look last gen and the camera is still just as wonky and off-balanced as I remember from the original. Sometimes enemies would only appear in pieces or not show up at all during combat and the camera is prone to weird angles such as crotch shots or a random piece of the background blocking your view when talking to an NPC.
Every bit of DLC that was originally released for “Reckoning” is included in “Re-Reckoning” such as “Mass Effect’s” Commander Shepard’s medieval battle armor and the additional adventures of “Teeth of Naros” and “The Legend of Dead Kel”. Also included in the new release is a “Very Hard” mode for those looking to suffer through lots of reloads.
Combat still feels smooth but not as refined as I quite remember. Games released after the original like “The Witcher 3” and “Dragon Age: Inquisition” have implemented a similar combat system as was in “Reckoning” and refined it to the next level.
The inventory system in “Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning” is still just as clumsy as the original. You usually have to sort through three menu screens to look at specific inventory items and comparing items takes a few more menus to get to. It’s also important to find vendors that sell backpacks early on in the game because you’ll run out of inventory space quickly and spend a lot of time juggling and junking items to sell or scrap…and you’ll find a lot of items on every quest.
While it is somewhat disappointing that “Kingdoms of Amalur” Re-Reckoning” wasn’t a full on remaster, more like a revisiting, it’s great to see the game getting the love and attention that it finally deserves nearly a decade after the original release. “Kingdoms of Amalur” was a great game when it was released in 2012 and “Re-Reckoning” is a nice resurrection of the franchise that doesn’t bring a lot of new things to the original but does put the franchise on a the radar of a lot of people who may have missed out the first time around. I am crossing my fingers that this will finally lead to the much-deserved sequel in the franchise and with THQ Nordic at the helms to boot. Until then, I’ll still end up spending hundreds of hours with “Re-Reckoning”.