Sometimes, when you open up the tray and put in the disc, you have no idea what to expect. I picked up Kingdoms of Amalur at £10 in a bargain bucket at a supermarket. It was a lovely, lovely surprise. Kind of like when you put on old jeans and find a tenner in the pocket.
You start the game as a corpse, being joked and bantered over by a pair of cheeky gnomes. It was at this point I made the “not bad” face and realised this may be quite a good game.
The first part that really stood out was the levelling up system. Reckoning is an RPG that completely allows you to build your character class around your playing style. You can still choose to fully go the good ol’ warrior, rogue or wizard route, but is it not so much more fun to mix it all up a bit? Like dipping French fries in Doritos Salsa dip. Trust me, just try it. Through where you invest your skills and which destiny card you choose, you can be anything from a fire-wielder shadow stalker to a hammer wielding cleric.
But just try out the dual wield daggers or “faeblades” just once. If not to decide whether or not to be a rogue, just do it to admire your ch aracter whirling around like a deadly fairy, graceful and vicious. Even just for a minute. Although you need to quickly get used to way the camera controls swing like after a 5th tequila. Oh, and enjoy the fateshift mode. When the bar is full, activate it to decimate in slow-mo and finish on a grand spectacle cut-scene murder on the last enemy. With weapons made of light. It leaves you a bit giddy every time.
Yes, the game does occasionally have some bugs, which a patch to sort them would be very welcome. But above everything, the game shines on its pure, undefinable beauty. Several times I just had to stop, whirl the camera angle around and say “Bugger me, this is a gorgeous place”. With towering gnome cities, rich desert plateaus and glimmering fae forests at night, you feel rather enraptured.
While it is awesome that your character class and personality are totally up to you, the NPC companions are pretty 2-dimensional.
Alyn Shir is the typical sexy, enigmatic dark elf, with dry comments and a very ambiguous morality. Think Isabela from Dragon Age 2, just with less back story, pointy ears and a lot less clothing.
Agarth is basically a hap-hazard Gandalf with low self-esteem issues. He has the demeanour of a washed-up 70s one hit wonder appearing on countless late-night talk shows and charity gigs, pleading “Please like me again”. To be honest, the other characters aren’t really worth mentioning.
You don’t really have much choice with how the main story will go, but nevertheless it is still a joyride to play. The boss fights feel sufficiently epic and involve more than just mindlessly spamming the right button when it appears on screen. You get a nice build-up to the main antagonist too, with lots of him mocking you and saying “Lol, come at me, bro” throughout the game.
The only downside really is how levelling in an area only takes a couple of quests, making a fair few other quests feel quite tedious as you know the experience gain and loot will be minimal. Completionists may tear their hair out. It starts to feel a bit World of Warcraft-y in that sense, some quests are less good mini-stories and more “bring me 10 of these pointless things and kill 20 of those buggers”.
The artsy will love the lore stones, the poetry and ballads spread throughout the game. Reckoning slips you so easily into the world it creates. The game is a work of art you can play. Every creature, every plant, every new environment just feels original, lovingly and carefully crafted. This, my friends, is a beautiful world I will never get tired of escaping to.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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