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KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RE-RECKONING
(RE-RECKONING is available now for all platforms. Distributor provided review copy.)
Going back to KINGDOMS OF AMALUR requires digging deep into the archives of the Internet. Released originally back in 2012, quickly forgotten, then re-released, failed again, and now released yet again for the third time, it’s one of those games that makes Todd Howard tingly all over. Nothing about the primary experience has changed in the last eight years, and it doesn’t need to: AMALUR is as solid a game as it was eight years ago. But at the same time, it’s also a game that came out almost a decade ago. Times have changed, AMALUR hasn’t, and therein lies the rub.
AMALUR is still an exciting action-RPG with impressive amounts of lore and things to do on the surface. Utilizing the talents of fantasy writer R.A. Salvatore, AMALUR’S mythology remains compelling, even when the game bogs down with exposition. There’s such dedication to creating a competitor for the likes of SKYRIM and THE LORD OF THE RINGS that even when it doesn’t work, you can’t help but be impressed.
You play the part of “The Fateless One,” a deceased warrior brought back to life with the ability to alter the fates of others. Naturally, the world is on the brink of destruction, and only you can prevent it. Not that there’s much choice in how you do any of this, as AMALUR is very much a product of its time: a straightforward story where the player has very little input in what happens next. This isn’t a bad thing, and AMALUR certainly isn’t hurt by the plot’s linearity. The open-world and myriad of side quests are more than enough to make it feel like you’re leaving a mark with your actions.
The one significant change to the world is removing level locking, meaning that monsters will now scale to your skill no matter where you are in the world. Hardcore fans will probably balk at the change, as it does make the experience noticeably more accessible, but for everyone else, it’s a welcome quality of life improvement. There’s also a “very hard” difficulty mode added, but it remained untouched for this review.
I, for one, am truly grateful that the level locking is gone. It’s an unneccessary element of a bygone era, one that hopefully won’t return as developers begin to experiment with the ways they tell open-world stories in the future. For AMALUR, it means that the world is your oyster, and there’s a rich, genuine joy in setting out into the unknown without having to worry about what waits around the corner. There’s still a challenge to be found, but this time it doesn’t feel arbitrary or contrived.
Apart from that, AMALUR suffers from a lack of any other significant overhauls or fixes. Even the graphics remain mostly the same, and there aren’t any significant options for PC gamers to fiddle around. It remains very much the same game you got out of the box eight years ago. Textures are muddy, the draw distance remains short, and the animations are quaint, to put it nicely. Taken all together, they work just fine, mainly thanks to a cartoony art style that ages better than a realistic one would, but it’s tough to say what the point of yet another release was in the end.
At least you get all the released DLC included in the box, both of which add several hours into the already massive main game. The base story alone will set you back some 40-50 hours, but completing all the sidequests and missions will easily double that. Not that you’ll want to do all of them, as the game is highly repetitive in this regard. This repetition is understandable; the world is vast, but I wish they would have made fewer missions with more substantial content.
If you’ve never played AMALUR before, now is as good a time as any to jump right in. It’s an easily accessible and mostly entertaining action-adventure game that will undoubtedly give your money’s worth; just don’t go expecting the newest mechanics or an exceptionally stable experience. On the PC, the game has an assortment of bugs and glitches that pop up from time to time, but there’s nothing game-breaking.
For those who’ve already played the game, this particular re-release is a much harder sell. Any older version is just the same as RE-RECKONING, and unless you just want the ease of having quick launcher access to the game, it’s probably best to just wait for whatever newer game in the genre is coming next.
And yet, none of this is the faul of the game itself, which still remains an unsung classic for a reason. It’s tremendous fun to explore, and I spent countless of hours for the third time immersing myself in its world. If that isn’t the mark of a solid release, even a decade later, I don’t know what is.