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March 2023

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Kaiko
Release Date: Sept. 8, 2020


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PS4 Review - 'Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 30, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an RPG game set is a vast new fantasy universe that sends players on a fast-paced journey to unlock the mysteries of Amalur while redefining their hero's destiny and the fate of the world.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning never quite stood a chance. Infamously the victim of its studio imploding, the game was unlikely to get a sequel, so it seemed doomed to fall into obscurity. That's perhaps why it was a surprise when Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, a remaster of the cult game, was announced to give the title a much-needed second chance. However, a second chance can only go so far when it's a game from 2012, and this remaster doesn't go quite far enough.

In Kingdoms of Amalur, you play as the Fateless, the one person who isn't bound by the seemingly unbreakable whims of fate. This means that you can alter your fates as well as the fates of others. As you can imagine, this is quite an advantage for an adventurer, and you are the only one who can stop evils that are destined to overtake the world. Of course, the evils don't like you much, and being Fateless means that you can defy destiny — but you can also be killed well before your time.

Amalur's story is fun but nothing special. It's very much in the vein of Xenoblade Chronicles or Final Fantasy XII, where it borrows a lot from MMORPGs but in a single-player format. That means the structure is basically, "Go here, do this, and repeat," so it's difficult for the story to live up to its cool concept. The game has some extremely cool moments, but they're buried under a lot of busywork. The world is ripe for more stories and more adventures, but we'll have to see if there is enough interest after the re-release.

Kingdoms of Amalur is an action-RPG where you can create a custom character and play style. Since you're Fateless, you're not obligated to stick to one specific play style, so you have three different options: finesse, might and sorcerer. Various combinations of those stats result in different builds with different bonuses, and it's relatively easy to re-spec any time you want. This means you're not obligated to pick one fighting style and stick with it, but you can adjust based on what you think is fun or what you're facing. You'll probably stick with one play style once you get the hang of things, and that play style will likely be the one that you enjoy the most.

The combat in Kingdom of Amalur is certain fun. It doesn't stand out as much as it did in its heyday, since most action-RPGs on the market these days are at least as good — if not better — but it's still a lot of fun. Regardless of whether you're smashing enemies with a sword or raining hellfire down on them with magic, the game has an epic sense of scale that helps your basic interactions feel cool. The combat is quick and responsive, and assuming you don't mind fiddling with the camera a bit, it's an enjoyable time. Alas, Amalur is another game that stood out at its launch but has since become just another face in the crowd.

There's also a fair bit to do outside of combat, but a lot of it boils down to "collect more loot." You can craft gems, gather herbs, and power up your character so you can face greater challenges. It's very much the MMO-style loot treadmill in a single-player game, but this isn't necessarily bad. Questing isn't particularly interesting, since it amounts to going to a location, killing something, and then going back. The world is constrained and full of invisible walls, so despite appearing to be wide open, it's very much a focused and less "free" experience than some of its recent counterparts.

Your overall enjoyment is dependent on how much you enjoy the loot treadmill gameplay. Amalur does a good job with it, and if you enjoy relaxing while gradually gaining power, then it'll satisfy you. If you're hoping for something more freeform or in-depth, then it won't. This isn't really a flaw, since the game knows exactly what it is trying to be, and it does a good job at it.

Unfortunately, Re-Reckoning is almost untouched and not much of a remaster. It includes some of the original DLC and some minor balance tweaks, but they're not noticeable unless you were a tremendous fan of the original. There doesn't appear to have been any sort of bug-fixing, so the game still has glitches from the original. The graphics have been barely touched up. The original game was from 2012, and honestly, it still looks like a 2012 game. It's one of the most bare-minimum remasters I've seen, which makes the $40 price tag feel a little steep.

That's the thing that drags down Re-Reckoning. It feels way more like a port than a remaster, and it lacks the small effort expended on other unimpressive ports from previous generations. If I didn't compare screenshots, I doubt I could tell it had even been touched up. Despite the title, it's basically the same game with the same bugs and same visuals. If you liked the original and want to play it on a more modern platform, then it works, but that's about the beginning and end of it.

Ultimately, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a bare-bones port of a solid, if unexceptional, game. Amalur is the kind of game that got overshadowed when it was released, and it seems just as likely to get overshadowed now. If you're a fan looking to revisit the title, this is a good experience, but it's not meaningfully different from what you might have played almost a decade ago.

Score: 7.0/10

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