Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning Review

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning review: a remastered version of the PS3 cult classic, out now.

A fanboy Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning review? Not entirely. I’ve never crunched numbers for a build or rolled a die, but I’ll be clear from the start: I was a fan of the original and was looking forward to this update.

It’s just a heads up that this game, other than tweaks and included expansions is more or less the same as before; a game I thoroughly enjoyed.

However, the score isn’t based on the original title, but the one I played on the PlayStation 4, revamped and released via Kaiko Games and THQ Nordic.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning Review

From author R.A. Salvatore, Spawn and Venom creator Todd McFarlane and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lead designer Ken Rolston, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning was always an ambitious project, but with this team behind it, destined for success.

Alas, it wasn’t received so well. I remember grabbing it near launch on PS3 back in 2012 and got it incredibly cheap. The hours I spent on that game was pretty high as combat was satisfying, the levelling system was perfect, and it had so much lore that it was overwhelming – in a good way.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning - Custom
The real adventure: customisation. Source: screen capture

It gained a cult following, but the developers 38 Studios went tits up, and the series went with it. That is until Kaiko Games THQ Nordic picked it up and revamped this fantastic game with updated visuals.

That’s the history over, what’s it about? You’re a nameless hero who dies on the battlefield only to be brought back to life and the apparent saviour of a dwindling civilisation who is the only living person without a pre-determined fate. That’s all I’m giving you as it’s a bit cliched, but well-written nevertheless.

After spending the first ten hours creating my character with the relevant birthrights, read perks, it quickly became apparent that my avatar was almost exactly the same as the one I started with in 2012.

On A Never Ending Quest

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is like a third-person, single-player version of World of Warcraft in my eyes. You explore the numerous territories and dungeons, scavenging consumables to craft new gear or equip new armour and weapons, completing almost endless side quests along the way.

These side quests are mostly the same as you progress through the game, but they never feel like a side quest as such and almost self-contained narratives rather than fetch a pail of water for Jill, or pick up a tin of peas for your nan.

My strategy was more or less the same as it has been for these games since I first played them: grind and level up. In the early stages, I had access to some epic gear and thinking that this was part of a bonus for reviewers to hack their way through the game quickly, but this was naive.

My strategy was more or less the same as it has been for these games since I first played them: grind and level up. In the early stages, I had access to some epic gear and thinking that this was part of a bonus for reviewers to hack their way through the game quickly, but this was naive.

Like most RPGs, your equipment is ranked on how rare it is and can be enchanted with slots. It was apparent that the common gear I was finding through my numerous quests were often better than the current loadout, and for hours, I never stuck to one weapon or type.

Unlike most RPGs, you aren’t locked into a particular build. I was keen to stray from my usual build of strength and wielding large weapons as I often do in the Dark Souls universe and opt for a sorcery build as it was visually impressive, and of course, hard-hitting.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning - This is me
This is me. Source: THQ Nordic

However, I once again fell into the trap of the same style of play as the PS3 game and was soon adopting a rogue-like build of backstabs and poison buffs to wear down the larger enemies.

Weapon Master

The weapon choice is a common one with long swords, greatswords, hammers, daggers and staffs, but Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning have these sorcery-like chakrams – a ring-shaped blade infused with the elements that you can throw and overcharge at enemies. They aren’t the hardest hitting weapons, but they look impressive and allow for quick attacks, much like the daggers and faeblades in the game.

Combat is a breeze – not because it’s easy to defeat your opponents, but the controls are great. You have a primary and secondary weapon – the second is usually great for a ranged weapon like the bow, but you can use whatever you want.

Locking onto enemies wasn’t as straightforward, but the camera controls are mostly good, and you can dodge on command. I will say that this remaster does suffer from dodgy camera angles during dialogue scenes and occasionally through combat, however. Spells can be equipped by all builds and holding down the R2 button plus the assigned hotkey will pull off a cooldown based weapon.

The usual gauges are on display; health, stamina and mana, and the HUD is unintrusive and can be customised with the option to have a helmet equipped but for it to be invisible on-screen. Regardless of that option, it will be removed for the frequent dialogue and cutscenes.

As mentioned, there’s a lot of talent behind Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, and in terms of story, it’s incredibly deep. It’s jam-packed with history, factions and mythology, and your character will often engage with NPCs that reinforce these elements throughout.

It can be overwhelming at times, but almost all NPCs you engage with through a dialogue tree will explain factions, races and story arcs should you struggle with it or forget where you were.

Of course, the menu system is in-depth with a current quest listed, but it doesn’t give that much in the way of hints, so it’s encouraged to talk with everyone.

The Same Game Remastered

The updated visuals are pretty sharp, but I did note that it was darker than most games and had to change the settings on my TV as the in-game brightness wasn’t enough.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re Reckoning It begins
It begins. Source: screen capture

There were a few graphical glitches throughout too. I seldom notice, but on occasion, an NPC would flash on the screen in front of me (not showing their tackle) and disappear, they’d also be ghost-like images on my character, and dead bodies will shift on the floor slightly.

In all honesty, this didn’t happen a lot, but it was noticeable when running around. It didn’t affect the gameplay whatsoever, and I didn’t encounter anything like slowdown with multiple enemies or anything like that. 

This isn’t something I would generally touch upon as reviews are relative and opinion. Nobody is right or wrong, but I did read IGN’s review of Kingdom of Amalur Re-Reckoning. In 2012 they gave it a 9, in 2020 it was a 6. Quite the drop for a big game.

Emphasis again on opinion, but the comments compared the game to Sekiro and modern titles. This iteration doesn’t claim to be a new game but an enhanced one, as much as The Last of Us Remastered is very much the same game, and still a masterpiece. Playing Super Mario World on the SNES Online is a dated experience, but if I were to score, would be putting it on a pedestal with full marks.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is as relevant today as it was in 2012. Shenmue was technically groundbreaking on release but dated now (see Shenmue 3), but the gameplay and story were there. The same applies to this game. 

Yes, there are new gaming mechanics introduced since 2012, but with the resurgence of pixel art titles, people want gameplay at the forefront. If you missed this on the PS3, I’d highly recommend investing in Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning if you’re a fan of action RPGs and perhaps want to play World of Warcraft, but on your own. That last one is me.