In many ways, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is your classic RPG. You’re the chosen one who can change the sad course the world is on. You can be a fighter, thief or mage. There are ogres and kobolds and brigands. There are forests and caves and swords and spells. Everybody has a quest for you to complete. Where the game diverges is important, unlike in many RPGs, which ask you what you want to be when you grow up, then you’re stuck on that track until you complete the game, Reckoning allows you to play however you like and rewards you regardless.
Want to be a magic-using theif, or a warrior/sorcerer rogue, please do. If you decide you want to specialize in a different kind of weapon or don’t enjoy shadow-slinking, fine, got to a fateweaver and reallocate all your points to create a completely different build. I loved this because I want everything; I want to see what my elf looks like in big, spikey armor, or what happens when I completely level up the fire spell track. Usually, this means I have to try a different play through, but not this time. Being a rogue, which usually just frustrates the heck out of me, is something I can try for a bit to see how I like it. It’s also friendly to new players or players who don’t like math and aren’t interested in finding the most dangerous build. If you find you made a mistake or miscalculation, you are free to change it. The system works really well, and all the possibilities are very well balanced, exceedingly well balanced, so I never felt like the game had one way it wanted me to play.
There is almost too much to do. Everyone lost a locket (or a child) or needs help with giant spiders and ettins, or can’t live without ten scorpion glands. My advice: ignore most of it. Play the main quest and then go back if you’re interested in more. Every character is well and fully voiced, and they do love to talk. The factions quests, where you can job groups who focus in specific disciplines and have their own lore, are interesting and worth investigating. Between those and the main quest, you have got at least 40 good hours of gameplay. Sidetracking on the sidequests makes the story feel fractured, and while many of them are compelling, they’re not compelling enough to get mired in as you go back and forth to find/kill something and return for your reward.
The world is bright and beautiful. They went crazy with their color palate. The dark dungeons have glowing flowers and luminous glyphs, the forests are filled with plant life and strange creatures—not all of which are trying to kill you. There are details everywhere that show the love and dedication of the designers: moving cogs that are in motion in the background, clever looking doors, animal and plant life that is varied and alive. The world is huge, but it never feels generic.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is fast-paced and fun. Every button does something immediately after you press it. Combos are easy to pull off, and every weapon is a different type of gameplay. You can also use two at once, like bow and hammer, or staff and sword, or my favorites, the chakrams (yes, just like Xena had). It’s a joy for neophytes and RPG veterans both. Amalur is fun to explore, vast, but also easy to put down and come back to. It’s a game that gives you whatever you need to enjoy it, however you want.
Frag Dean is a podcaster on Silly Frags, available on iTunes, Sticher and sillyfrags.com.