Kingdoms of Amalur: Re- Reckoning starts by face planting directly into the mud under its feet. There is a three-minute-long opening cut scene that you can’t skip, and it made me want to slam my head into the table in front of me until it cracked open. All it tells you are things that get said again by other characters in a far more natural way in the main game. It’s a pointless and boring time-waster that leads into another cut scene, at least this one is more interesting. Your dead body (yes dead, you start this game as a corpse) is being wheeled into the drop chute for the Well of Souls. The game doesn’t do much explaining what the Well of Souls is. All I know is that it’s deeply disturbing and made my skin crawl.
You create your character with some extremely limited options. There are four races which are: human farmer, human pirate, elf, and elf in very revealing clothing. This is annoying because it’s clear that other races do exist; the opening cut scene introduces us to the Fae as well as dwarfs. The fact I can’t be a dwarf or a cool monster is a crime. What’s the point of a fantasy game if I can’t live out my dream of having purple skin and horns?
After this, you pick which God your character worships despite this having little impact on both gameplay and story. Honestly, it didn’t really need to be there, considering it doesn’t really serve many purposes.
After you’ve created your character, it’s time for an unskippable tutorial, though it is handy as things have changed for this remaster. We meet our big bads for the second time around. They were already introduced during the unskippable intro video, but we get a second meeting with them anyway.
They’re the Winter Court that has gone corrupt because of a crystal – again, it’s not super well explained. They are now called the Tuatha – a sect of the Fae race – and, important note, all Fae have Irish accents for no discernible reason. As far as I can tell it’s supposed to be because it’s inspired by old Irish Faeries. If that is the case, it’s not very well done. The legends intersect with in-game lore at weird points, and in the end, it seems like a bizarre attempt to connect it with an already established legend when it probably would have worked better with an original name for this fantasy race. For fans of deep fantasy, this is important stuff! For everyone else… Nerd rant over.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning does world-building really well, and there are tons of good examples in the game. Like the lore stones which gives us chunks of diary entries, poems, and stories from the world. These chunks are fascinating because they give us a chance to think and feel what it’s like living in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s world. It’s a tactic called nontraditional storytelling and games have to use it a lot because of how these stories are made. While they absolutely aren’t the best (and in fact, I would say it’s a shame they didn’t take this chance to go over and add more methods of storytelling since this is a remaster…) they aren’t the worst. The game does a great job at world-building, most of the time. Other times, though, it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t it stands out like blisters on an otherwise blemish-free face.
Thankfully the game improves massively as you are let loose in the world. The characters are fun, and the combat is a mix of strategy and hacking and slashing. The combat is so fun and engaging that even just busting through a dungeon is a blast. Also, something that makes this game unique is that even side quests that are clearly grinding to level you up don’t actually feel like massive grinds.
A big highlight is that there are different endings to quests. It seems like such a small thing, right? But so many games only aim to make it feel and seem like there are different outcomes, whereas Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning actually has them.
Minor spoilers for the House of Ballads questline up head:
A really good example of this is in the House of Ballads questline. Near the end, you have what can be very loosely defined as a good and bad option. I say loosely because frankly, they both have positives and negatives. In the end, I choose the “bad option” and I still think it was the correct decision (and really what were they thinking putting ME up against a very pretty misunderstood woman who flirted with me the whole time. Even if it wasn’t the right choice I still would have chosen it.)
The story itself is cliché but its so much fun to play that its hard to care about its shortcomings. Not to mention that even though it is cliché, it’s still a good message behind grasping your destiny and taking the reins in your own story. It’s hard to care about that when it’s both well executed and well written. It’s all very standard chosen one nonsense but its the class system and the characters that make this feel different. At any point, you can change your character’s class and the bonuses that come with it. And even then it’s not slandered thief, warrior, wizard classes. you can overlap any of these classes, in fact, you may even choose to work with all three. This works both story-wise and mechanically. That way in this world so tied to fate and a lack of free will, it never feels like you, the player, have no choice.
The biggest downside to this game besides its extremely lacklustre opener, as well as one of the characters wearing the absolute skimpiest (yuck) costume, is the sound design. There is very little music and what is there isn’t all that exciting. In fact, it’s so dull halfway through I put the game on mute and listened to a D&D podcast. Because frankly, I’d rather listen to Crystal Kingdom for the eighth time rather than the repetitive sounds of faint woodwinds and heavy grunting. But each to their own…
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a very good game. If you enjoy fantasy or just cool monster design you’ll probably get a kick out of this. If you can get past the beginning you’ll have a great time heading through the world and letting the story unfold around you.
- Super fun combat
- Cool art style
- Creative class system
- Lots of content
- Boring opening full of exposition
- Dull sound design
- Full of clichés
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
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