The journey of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a huge one, and I don’t mean the in-game campaign, as in fact the game’s production alone is quite the adventure. It all started with ex-baseball player, Curt Schilling’s studio, (38 Studios) developing an MMORPG. In 2009 the studio was acquired by THQ, through Big Huge Games, which followed a much different direction for the game. At this point, the idea was to create a Single-Player experience, to introduce players to an MMO world, but with the “not-so-good” sales numbers, all further development was canceled.
This is all history, of course, and for gamers, it’s another story of success, as we have gotten another fantastic RPG, even though its profit didn’t manage to break even. This wouldn’t be the end for Kingdoms of Amalur, as of September 2018, THQ Nordic purchased all the rights to the game, and two years later here we are, with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning.
Caught in the middle of the never ending Crystal War, we take the shoes of the Fateless One, the very first successful “Well of Souls” experience, which consist in reviving the dead. We set foot on our path, with no memory of our past life, but somehow feeling as though we’ll eventually repeat it.
This is the troubling Faelands, a region of Kingdoms of Amalur.
This is an action RPG set in a linear-open world, with interesting NPC’s and discoveries to wander upon. Heavily focused on combat, players can create their character and class, as well as grow a skill tree based on the preferred abilities. The way you approach each encounter is also defined by you, either a stealthy way or a full force attack. Combine ranged attacks, magic, and wild blows with long swords. The gameplay alone makes Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning a recommended title, not to mention the storyline and quest-lines.
Please remember that Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is not a Remake, which seems to be making a lot of people confused, between a Remake and a Remaster. In this case, THQ Nordic improved upon the visuals as well as gameplay mechanics, but did not change the visual presentation or the game itself. It’s the same game we all know and love, but better, which is how remasters should always be done.
But first, let’s talk about the most overviewed characteristic of this new edition, which are the visuals. If you accurately remember the bloom in the original, you may notice it not being so predominant, which I for once can appreciate. Textures and assets were considerably improved, and this goes for all the environments and objects as well. This made everything look sharper while maintaining the same art style.
It’s also important to mention THQ Nordic did not, in any way, change the visual art. Why replace what’s so charismatic? Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning has the same design style, that for some reason reminds me of Fable mixed with The Elder Scrolls, and I say this with excitement, because the art direction is indeed genuine and refreshing to see. It’s no coincidence the lead designer, is none other than Ken Rolston, the lead designer of TES: Oblivion.
From the vast colorful fields, to the gloomy and exotic magical caves, exploring the kingdom feels as magic as ever, with its dark fantasy themed, placed among the traditional RPG setting featuring different environments and architecture. If you loved exploring the original, it will feel twice as good, and in case you’re new to the series, you’ll discover wonders.
The user interface didn’t change much, but now it’s possible to increase and decrease the in-game interface scale. It’s not the perfect accommodation for high resolutions, but it’s a nice welcoming improvement.
There is more of a gameplay change though, and for those, we have plenty of features to talk about. The biggest one will probably be the new Very Hard difficulty. This will add a new meaning to your adventure, but this new mode comes with other updates. To start, in-game areas will no longer be calculated by their character level, but instead will be based on the chosen difficulty. With such, the XP will be the same throughout each difficulty mode. It’s now more predominantly noticeable when backtracking, how strong you are and how much you have improved. It’s the classic RPG mechanics at work, which end up fitting really well.
In case you’re not happy with the changes, there’s some good news too, as level calculations can be entirely modded and altered at your own wish. The last but nonetheless important gameplay aspect to have been improved was the loot. Yes, you read correctly, in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning the loot generated in chests will now more often fit your character’s skill set. There’s also been added a loot drop boost to compensate for those occasions where you don’t find anything interesting.
It’s already official that a new add-on called Fatesworn will be released somewhere in 2021, which will be included for owners of the FATE Edition. The same edition includes the official soundtrack. 35 beautiful tracks composed by Grant Kirkhope (Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie) ranging from atmospheric to intense orchestral neo-classic themes, immediately transporting you to the realms of the Faelands.
All in all, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is an improvement over the original, with a 50% permanent discount for the owners of the classic. Re-Reckoning could never be free, for owners of the original since it’s a new publisher with plenty of significant improvements, not to mention the new upcoming content.
With a fantastic optimization, gameplay improvements and tweaks, this popular RPG is the best solution for anyone looking into an immersive adventure with impeccable gameplay. A strong remaster proving to be faithful to its original roots.
My Steam Review