Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review (PS3)

Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning sets the scene in a land of turmoil where everyone is trying to survive in a kingdom under siege. You play as a character who against all odds, returned from death due to an experiment being carried out in an underground lab. None of the subjects had been able to achieve such results except you. Soon you became the hot property that everyone is going after and it is up to you to find out why you can defy fate and destiny.

The game has a pretty big overworld for you to travel and explore. As you open up new locations you meet new people, and you find out more about the world and how possibly dangerous you are. As you talk to people you can acquire missions to help them out in this collapsing world to earn some gold and goodies. Having said that, the voice over is kind of dull and you will have a tendency to just read through the description press the square button and skip through the dialogue.

In terms of gameplay Reckoning has a lot to offer. As a blank canvas you can craft your own Destiny in the game. Destinies are classes or professions that you can take on and develop your character. Unlike other characters in the game, yours is up to you, as even the most skilled Fateweaver cannot see how your Destiny plays out. Apart from basic classes (such as Rogue, Warrior and Mage) you can have combined Destinies that offer the best of both classes. For example, as I levelled up as a Brawler, I changed over to become a Duelist who is skilful in both brawling and stealth. And by this you unlock a myriad of opportunities in terms of what weapons and armours to equip, what kind of skills you want to acquire etc. It is a lot of experimenting around with it. If at a point you are bored with your class you can even go to a Fateweaver and ask him/her to wipe the canvas out again and reassign all your points to a different class – that is if you have sufficient gold to do so.

On top of basic levelling up and developing your character, you can also engage yourself in other interesting activities such as blacksmithing, sage crafting and alchemy. Blacksmithing allows you to create your own weapons and armour; sage crafting is all about creating gems that can enhance your gear; alchemy is, well, pretty much potions and other stuff. You collect your ingredients, materials and reagents through looting, salving your unwanted gears or simply picking them up along the way from the local flora and fauna. Of course no RPG would be complete without chests that allow you find all these important items. Chests come in four types – those that are free to loot, those that require you to pick locks (that makes Rogue a valuable class), those that require you to dispel and those that require you to steal. For the last category, there are consequences if you are not skilful enough or do not have the required persuasion level. I tried it once and nearly cost all my gold to just get me out of that sticky situation.

There has been quite a bit of discussion over the graphical style of the game. Personally I do not have any problem with it. It is a cross between realistic character art and a cel-shaded character, but then the beautiful world that was crafted around it was not overly realistic either, so the characters fit into the world quite nicely. The world was beautifully designed and the different environments exhibits this in its own character. However, in terms of changing the look of your character, it seems that it’s not varied enough. By this I don’t just mean creating your own character, which is quite limited in options already but the variety of looks in terms of armour and weapons, which all look extremely similar. Sometimes they only differ if they have different effects on them (effects do look good though). So when you equip that funky new piece of gear, there is a good chance that it will look exactly like the old piece you had, which is disappointing.

Another issue with Reckoning is that the world is very sparsely populated. Yes, sometimes enemies do respawn in dungeons, but the overworld can be desolate. Sometimes you can travel for miles and only encounter a handful of enemies. At the start I preferred to travel on foot instead of using quick travel just to level up and collect reagents for my alchemy, but eventually I just settled for the quick travel option on the map to save time, as nothing much was happening between areas.

Reckoning has some other issues as an RPG. The first one was the extremely limited inventory system. For a game that requires you to collect different items to enjoy the gameplay, I think it is incomprehensible that they built in an inventory system that is so limited that you have to go back to towns to sell them or just to get rid of them on the spot. You can buy accessories to increase you inventory capacity but those things aren’t cheap at all. The other issue is the number of experience points required to level up in this sparsely populated world. You can increase your experience point gained from time to time with the Reckoning mode but then you have to wait till the meter fills up (by killing enemies) before using it, which will also take a long time if you are not fighting enemies all the time. Also, occasionally there was way too many things happening at the same time. You can have someone suddenly talking to you in the middle of a battle and your screen switches over to a dialogue screen while you can hear your enemies howling in the background. Also Folklore unlocked from Lorestones just play out in the background no matter what, making them extremely annoying. The last thing is the horrendous loading time between locales. By this I don’t mean between cities and areas, but for entering and leaving a house or using quick travelling. The overworld was well constructed, and different areas connect with each other seamlessly. However, I have no idea why it takes so long for you to enter or leave a house.

That said, Reckoning is still a very enjoyable game. You can lose yourself in all the missions without caring about the story. The fact that the character development system can really let you tailor make your own play style in any way you want is astonishingly good. It is one of the best character development systems I have seen in years for an RPG and I think a lot of developers should take a look at Reckoning in this aspect. Whether this is sufficient to keep you going with the game that is another question. I look forward to seeing the issues mentioned above being fixed if they decide to release another game for this IP (or even in a patch).

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

About the Author

Level up freak. Level 99 is a norm not a goal. Love my JRPGs and RPGs in general. Also love my platformers and puzzle games. Was addicted to Zoo Keeper, Magnetica, Animal Crossing, Disgaea DS, Dragon Quest IX and White Knight Chronicles. Prefer to spend my time away from gaming as an actor although do have a full time job that keeps my mortgage going. But generally love anything creative. And if anyone tells you gaming is a waste of time, tell them you have great eye, hand and brain coordinations that they will never have!