The previous generation left us some of the greatest experiences in the RPG genre that we’ve seen in recent years. The most obvious example is The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, although today it’s more meme than video game; in it’s day there was simply nothing like it: it was the perfect rpg. The other great example is Dark Souls, probably one of the most influential game of the last decade.
There were two other games that without making so much noise, also earned a special place. The first is Dragon’s Dogma, the interpretation of medieval fantasy by a Japanese studio with the director Devil May Cry 5 at the helm and the second is the game we are dealing with today: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning.
Behind The Game
The story of Amalur is as sad as it’s fascinating: it was the only game developed by 38 Studios. A company founded by former baseball player Curt Schilling, three months after it’s release on the studio went bankrupt.
And it wasn’t a team of strangers, precisely. Behind Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was R. A. Salvatore, author of Forgotten Kingdoms novels and creator of the charismatic Drizzt Do’Urden, who was in charge of the story and the universe; Todd McFarlane, Spawn’s father and comic book veteran, was responsible for the art; Grant Kirkhope, composer of the soundtrack on some of Rare’s greatest gems for the Nintendo 64, handled the melodies; Ken Rolston, designer of Morrowind and Oblivion, supervised the design of Amalur.
If to such a “dream team” we add that Kingdoms of Amalur was equal in size to any The Elder Scrolls and that it was the first project of a studio that had just been born. It isn’t surprising that it would go to hell sooner rather than later . Luckily, the game stands as a testament to the great work they did.
Testament that is back today looking better than ever in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. This is a remaster by Kaiko Games, authors Darksiders Warmastered Edition and Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition. These include the usual improvements, as well as a few changes and new features.
A Great Return
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning puts us in the role of a character who rises from the dead, with no recollection of his past life, to discover which is right in the center of a conflict between a sinister faction of immortals, known as the Tuatha and the rest of the free people.
The story has interesting parts, especially those related to discovering the past of our character. Entering a completely new universe is never easy, especially when it comes to one so large and elaborate. Kingdoms of Amalur isn’t at all friendly in that regard, throwing names of characters, races, regions and deities at our faces from the begining.
Everything forges a universe that isn’t really too far from the rest of the RPGs. There are some pretty cool concepts, like the narrative of the Fae or the importance of destiny . It is still the typical world of swords and witchcraft with humans, elves and dwarves.
A Great Combat System
The combat is in real time, with very forceful blows, quick dodges, blocking by shield and an “awakening mode” . Due to it’s simplicity, it may seem that this type of combat does not fit into a role-playing game. The great success of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is the versatility of it’s class system.
Broadly speaking, we have the three typical ones: warrior, rogue and mage. We can focus on one, create a double class or a mix between the three. All of them give us access to a varied combat skills, as well as specialization in different types of weapons. Each weapon, gives us access to different sets of movements and there is a lot to choose from: swords, daggers, bows, greatswords, hammers, chakrams, Fae swords, scepters… We can equip two at the same time and combine them.
With a combat system like that of the old God of War this is a show. What is more important: infinite options. If we get tired of a magical build, we can respec all the points in our skills and expertise to completely change our playstyle.
Looting And Limitations
That is and continues to be the strong point of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. It also has the looting system similar to Diablo, so we are constantly getting new and better equipment, something that is very engaging. It’s inventory system allows us to throw away all the objects and then sell them comfortably at once.
Unfortunately, not everything has aged equally well: the design of the world in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is very simple and since we cannot jump or climb, our ability to move is limited by the invisible walls of the map, which in the long run makes exploration quite a monotonous process. The visual design doesn’t help either, since the areas are quite similar to each other, especially the interiors.
Before accessing the interiors or returning to the exterior we must face the greatest enemy of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. That’s right, loading screens with a duration of 30 and 40 seconds that go on forever. Hopefully they will be able to reduce them in some way by updating the game. Today, the simple idea of accessing a location causes maximum laziness.
A Great Upgrade
And since we talk about the technical, it’s time to get to the improvements of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. It is likely that if you take a look at the remaster, you think that the game doesn’t look too good. or that the remastering work is barely perceptible… But it is not true.
In addition to the increased resolution, the textures are superior to the original (not crazy, but the improvement are there). The great technical novelty (on consoles) is the jump to 60fps, something that manages to maintain most of the time. What is the problem, then? The artistic section. That type of armor and greatswords, characters with “cartoon” design and abuse of the bloom effect were fine in 2012… But today they are out of date.
Obviously this is a very subjective aspect. There will be those who love this style of World of Warcraft‘s first cousin. It is what makes Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning seem so… old, when in fact there is an important remastering work behind it; the kind of work you can’t see with the naked eye.
i.e. The difficulty: you will remember that the original game didn’t pose a challenge, neither in normal nor in hard mode. In Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning the difficulty has been readjusted; an additional difficulty level (very hard) has been added with which we guarantee that you will break a sweat.
There are also other improvements, such as the ability to assign 8 different abilities instead of 4 (we alternate between the two sets by pressing LB) or an increase in the number of items we can store in chests.
Another aspect that will go unnoticed is the number of bugs that the original presented and that have been patched. In addition, those responsible for this remastering have made adjustments to the loot system so that progression is balanced. If we have a lot of points assigned to strength, there will be more chances of obtaining equipment related to our build.
Problems That You Can Fix
There are more problems inherited from the original game that have been fixed, although to find the solution we need to navigate through the menus. The camera is one of those. If you played the original version, you will remember that the camera was a constant enemy. This annoyed players when the action took place and was too close to the character when exploring.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning includes the option to modify the field of view. If we add to this the possibility of changing the distance and height, as well as reducing the size of the HUD or eliminating it completely, we can achieve that the camera of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning resembles that of third person action games. It is still not perfect, but it’s years away from the original.
It isn’t something that is by default, using that camera so close can lead to a wrong first impression… We imagine that they have done it to preserve the original experience. Another detail that you will have to modify in the menu is the way you sprint. Instead of holding A (a nefarious idea, since it is the button to interact), it’s possible to assign running to the much more comfortable L3. For some reason, the game defaults to an excessively dark brightness level; you can raised it for a better experience.
So… is it worth it? If you are fans of the genre, you are undertaking a huge adventure, perhaps not as elaborate as a Skyrim, but that offers hundreds of hours of gameplay and includes all the DLC and cosmetic items.
Kingdoms of Amalur returns with it’s final version and the promise of a new DLC on the way, breathing new life into a game that was doomed to oblivion, is more than enough reason to return to Amalur.