It’s been nearly a decade since the rise and fall of 38 Studios. Yet despite a tragic end, their one and only offering has remained on the mind of many a gamer in the following years. Now after all this time it finally receives new life with the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developer: Kaiko, 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Action RPG, Hack and slash
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
I’ll stick around
Playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is like opening a time capsule. It’s a product of its time to be sure. Nevertheless, it holds some of the best parts of the past otherwise lost to the steady march of time.
If you aren’t aware of the story behind Amalur’s original release, I urge you to give it a read. You’ll find a fascinating tale involving an MLB superstar, an ambitious studio with dreams of making the next great MMORPG, and a deal gone sour with the state of Rhode Island.
Still, the past is the past, and there is no sense rehashing it here. Suffice it to say though that many (including myself) were crushed when we realized that there was no impending sequel on the horizon. Yet somehow, almost a decade later, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is poking its head out and testing the air.
While this is no sequel, it’s great to see a re-emergence of this IP once dripping with potential. Whether or not this means any sort of continuation of the franchise, well, we will have to wait and see. Nonetheless I am very happy to be returning for another adventure in Amalur on a new console generation.
You keep doing you
The foundation that the original Amalur was built on is its incredible combat system. I’m happy to say report that foundation is still very much intact. It may be an aging system, but fighting enemies is still the best part of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning.
Somehow the game just seems to nail a fluid style of speed, melee, and overall satisfaction in striking foes. It doesn’t matter if your firing out spells, wielding a massive warhammer, or dealing a flurry of poison dagger strikes. Every class is a unique and addictive experience and every skill and weapon is a joy to use.
The best part is that Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning doesn’t limit you to any one class. You can pump skill points into whichever class (Might, Sorcery, or Finesse) you please. Choose to specialize in Finesse’s daggers and Sorcery’s chakrams (my favourite loadout), and a hybrid Finesse/Sorcery “Fate” will unfold, with bonuses gearing toward your specific multi-faceted approach. Ultimately you can master any or all classes through branching skill trees.
No matter how you choose to fight, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a huge world full of lore. There’s a massive narrative arc that builds around player agency. It’s easily as robust as many of the greatest fantasy RPG’s in recent years, with exceptional combat that makes even otherwise mundane fetch quests interesting.
A few bad habits
Despite the solid core it is built on, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning still inevitably shows its age. Part of me is happy to be able to experience the game for the most part in its original state. Still, there are a few problems that could have used some attention under the the guise of a remaster.
For example, the load times are pretty unbearable at times. It’s understandable when leaving a small location for the larger open world that this might take some time to load. However even small areas such as taverns and shops take upwards of a minute. This makes for a lot of unpleasant waiting if your bouncing around between multiple shops in town.
To be honest at times I even reluctantly elected to forego a trip into a shop simply to avoid the load time. This is not the ideal way to play an RPG—or any game for that matter. I simply can’t recall how I put up with it before, but perhaps it was just being more used to longer load times in the past. With a remaster though it would have been nice to see some optimization here.
The camera just doesn’t work as well by today’s standards either. It’s easy to get caught in a corner in the heat of a tense battle with the camera completely obscured by a wall or branch. It doesn’t break the game, but we just don’t see these sorts of problems as much in 2020.
Just a quick shine
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning features a bit of a graphical upgrade for new hardware, but nothing outstanding. Essentially everything gets just enough polish that the game looks about how I remember it in my mind. In other words, my 2020 brain sees Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning and imagines it looks the same as it always did, when in reality the fidelity has been given an upgrade.
There isn’t much in the way of new or additional content yet. There is a new harder difficulty mode, but other than that there isn’t really anything new to catch the attention of fans. That said, the developer has promised a brand new expansion coming in 2021, which is a delightful prospect for those who never imagined new content would ever come to the world of Amalur.
Of course Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning does at least include both original expansions, and the asking price is respectable considering the vast amount of content that is there to play. Given how much fun the game is even 9 years down the road, I feel like the value is there for newcomers and those who wish to revisit the game alike.
Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is a fairly straightforward remaster of an amazing RPG adventure
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning may be for all intents and purposes essentially the same game it was 9 years ago. Nevertheless, in my opinion that decade-old game is tons of fun, and one of my favourite of the entire PS3/360 generation. We once thought that the realm of Amalur may never again see the light of day, so that fact that THQ Nordic was able to put out a remaster in 2020 is nearly a miracle unto itself.
Still, the game does show its age in a few areas. Nevertheless those who have never played along with eager fans who want to play over again on new consoles will find many hours of amazing combat with the base game plus 2 expansions. I know I for one am eagerly awaiting the proposed upcoming new expansion though, with fingers crossed that the franchise itself—not unlike the main protagonist—has been quite literally raised from the dead.
+ Fluid, satisfying combat is as great as ever
+ Graphic fidelity update and new very hard mode
+ Lots of content for a reasonable value
– Some signs of age with lengthy load times and camera angles
– Very little that’s really new with the remaster
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RE-RECKONING
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5