Kingdoms of Amalur was a game that, when it originally released, did not sell very well. It had some competition in the year of 2012 when it came to RPGs- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, a new Hyperdimension Neptunia title, and Mass Effect 3 all within a month of Kingdoms of Amalur’s original release date. A third person action RPG with loads of skills, differing weapon types, crafting, and more, is Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning worth a second look, or should this game be banished into the Well of Souls? Let’s find out.
The story of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a relatively simple one, once all is said and done, but it did start on a relatively unique note for its time. Your corpse is dumped into a location where an experiment is taking place to re-bind souls to bodies- which conveniently works on your lifeless body as you’re resurrected at the very start of the game (it would have been a very boring 30 hours otherwise). Now known as the “Fateless One,” since your life has no predetermined end, you can freely interfere with the fates of others to change the world, itself. The impetus of the story is pretty interesting, and there’s a lot of fantasy lore injected directly into the veins of the game, so if you’re a massive lore-hound there should be a good bit to keep you amused with Kingdoms of Amalur’s remaster.
Players get to make a character using one of the four races of the game, each of which provides a specific type of bonus. There are three major trees for abilities- Might, Finesse, and Sorcery, which each basically correspond to your Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard classes in other RPGs. By putting points into the ability trees, you can unlock Destinies which all have bonuses that correspond to a specific archetype of play- for example, going all-in on Sorcery gives you the powerful Archmage class which yields bonus elemental damage, increased mana regeneration, and spell cost reduction, meanwhile splitting your ability points between Finesse and Sorcery can give you Shadowcaster, which gives a smaller elemental damage bonus, but a higher critical hit chance and also regenerate mana upon crit. You can respec your character so you don’t have to worry about spending your points in a way that doesn’t suit your play style, thankfully, and even the jack of all trades classes (which require you evenly distribute your points) are pretty powerful.
There are also Twists of Fate which can provide powerful bonuses as you unlock them through playing the game- some are mutually exclusive via branching quest paths, such as betraying the Warsworn to get that delightful +10% physical damage bonus. There are also three crafting systems in the game- Blacksmithing lets you create, salvage, or repair your equipment. Alchemy, on the other hand, allows you to harvest reagents to craft potions that can provide myriad benefits. Finally, Sagecraft gives players the ability to use shards to craft gems that can then be placed in sockets your equipment may have; more levels in Sagecraft increase your chances of getting better shards, as well as yielding higher rank gems.
The combat is easily the largest reason to play Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, and thankfully the combat is just as good in this iteration as it was in the original 2012 release. Players can use bows, chakrams, hammers, or the traditional giant sword to cut through swaths of enemies using your special skills. Doing combos that knock your foes around or control space is a common way to play the game, making the combat feel more like an action beat ‘em up game like an early God of War than it does the typically weightless action RPG combat of other titles around its release date. There have been a lot more titles that use RPG mechanics for action-based combat since 2012, but Re-Reckoning is still a joy to play.
In the event a player comes across an overly difficult mob or boss, the Fate meter can be expended to enter Reckoning mode, which slows down time, gives you bonus damage, and decreases damage you take from all sources, plus you gain bonus experience by mashing an attack button and in doing so unravel the fates of your enemies, instantly killing them if you made them weak enough. The closest Reckoning mode can reasonably be compared to would be something like Witch Time plus Torture Attacks from Bayonetta meet Devil Trigger from Devil May Cry, and is just as powerful a mechanic as that may sound.
The visuals of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning have been improved, but the graphics still very much look like an upscaled Xbox 360 title. Everything is a little bit sharper, and the lighting seems improved, but the largest saving grace is that the art style carries the visual appeal. The almost cartoon-like aesthetic is still a pleasure to look at, even if significantly dated by 2020 standards. The dialogue interface desperately wants to be a mixture of Dragon Age and Mass Effect- with a black gradient covering the bottom third of the screen with a simple wheel of dialogue choices… it’s quaint and effective in approach and there’s largely nothing to complain about, it just looks dated.
One of the problems with the original 2012 Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning were that the game was insanely riddled with glitches. Anecdote: The original reason I, personally, never finished my run of Kingdoms of Amalur back in 2012 was due to the fact that multiple annoying glitches were encountered in a single playthrough with a game-breaking bug necessitating the game being shelved. Sometimes side quests couldn’t be completed, which would leave the quest items stuck in the player’s limited inventory space- annoying, yes, but not something that a player could not work around. Play continued in spite of this until a quest actually broke the ability to fast travel (at a time when multiple quests had destinations on opposing ends of the world map).
The quest in question never-endingly spawned waves of enemies and after a certain point would just break and label itself failed, without updating the player location as being outside where the quest took place (you can’t fast travel indoors). It was at this time that I determined I had better things to do, and lost myself in the wonderful world of Xenoblade Chronicles, which also released in the year of 2012 with its English release.
So does Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning fix any of these flaws? Well, in a word, no. Thankfully, the glitches experienced 8 years ago were not experienced again, but whole new bugs were delightfully apparent to spoil the mood any time. Some finesse attacks randomly deal no damage at all, you just pass through the enemy having done absolutely nothing to them. There’s one particular dungeon that has a locked door that should open when you hit a pressure plate, but instead of opening it simply doesn’t. If a player isn’t studious enough to save often, and always save in new slots, then there’s a very good chance you will simply get stuck in a place with no way to exit (you can’t rely on auto saves either, as the auto save will often overwrite while you’re in the dungeon. You have to manually save so you can revert back, losing your progress, should you encounter one of these bugs).
Not to harp on about bugs and glitches, because programming is hard and I’m certain that remastering a game from eight years ago is by no means a simple feat, but it’s almost inexcusable how much progress players are expected to lose by reverting to previous saves because of some almost random occurrence of a bug. If you load the game and your character is invisible, for example, the only thing that fixes it is having another save with which you can revert. Making matters worse, apparently a significant number of glitches from the original release still exist in this remaster- plus some more the remaster added on top (like loading the game and suddenly finding out your character model is permanently invisible because you saved too close to a wall or in stealth mode, or something).
If it weren’t for the cornucopia of bugs this game presents the player, this would easily be a 4.5/5 game because it is actually entertaining to play and has a solid crafting system with wonderful combat that still holds up after eight whole years. I was able to personally mitigate the impact several of the bugs had on my current play through of the game by many, many saves, and saving after doing any particular task or event. However, it could be easily observed how a player with the understanding of, “I have an auto save” might be frustrated when he suddenly has to restart the whole game because he can’t fast travel, is stuck in a room, needs to report to an NPC who got stuck behind a wall you can’t access anymore, etc…
Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur still stands as a game that is criminally overlooked not just by gamers, but by the developers who made the game, itself. The game can be a strong action RPG with fun combat, and can be an absolute joy of an experience when everything works properly so you can explore the lands, beat baddies, and complete various quests scattered across the world. If you’re looking for an action RPG and can’t wait for patches to come out then it’s strongly recommended that you consistently and constantly make new saves while playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, to avoid losing hours of progress due to an unforeseen glitch.
If all of that sounds like too much work, then it may be worthwhile to wait as the game is receiving somewhat frequent patches that fix various issues on all platforms. Due to diligence in regularly making new saves, a lot of the more game-breaking glitches were easily worked around, which is why I give this game 3 out of 5 GiN Gems. However, at the time of this writing, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning could have definitely used a little more time simmering in the Well of Souls because your experience can easily be sweet or sour depending on whether you come across the more impacting bugs.