Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Review (PS4)
A Reckoning is upon us.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a remastered version of what can now be considered a cult classic. Developed and published by THQ Nordic, the franchise takes its shot once more at the spotlight it once had back in 2012. Does it live up to every ones fond memories or is it best left in 2012,simply as a cult classic and nothing more? Let's find that out.
As the first warrior ever to be successfully resurrected from the jaws of death, it is now your responsibility to journey across the vast lands and uncover all the secrets Amalur and the surrounding lands, and to put an end to an ongoing vicious war. The fate of the world may very well depend on you.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is an open world game that puts emphasis on fast paced combat,exploration and an intriguing narrative, all of which when added together make a game that, while it didn't set the charts on fire sales wise in 2012, its still very much talked about and loved to this very day. The remastered version of this tries to replicate the same feelings from 8 years ago and make it relevant again in 2020. Overall the attempt to do so is admirable.
Throughout the game you'll be venturing from zone to zone and region to region to uncover new secrets,new allies and new enemies as you tread through caverns and other enemy bandit camps. You can choose however you wish to play the game, if you do not immediately want to do the main story,but instead you wish to run around a little bit and do some quests for town civilians that may be in need of your help,its entirely up to you. With this level of freedom, it makes it feel like you're in control of your own fantasy adventure and not being forced to play the way the developers force you to play, this is key to keeping the immersion.
You may choose one of four races and 3 classes to pick from and level up as you progress through your journey and main story campaign, but there is a lot to customize and if you aren't ready for it, the task of leveling out your specific character for Rogue,Mage or Warrior types, might become a bit of a daunting task. While you have 3 classes to choose from, they each branch off into around twenty separate skills and abilities that open up each class to the point that it makes you feel like you're making real progression,but it can also be a little bit of a headache because there's just so much to choose from. It's a little frustrating with all the choices, but also really good that they give your character that much flexibility.
Are you a tactical spell based type of player or are you like me and go for pure power and strength above all else? Depending on what tickles your fancy, you'll have a few ways to go about it. For instance with myself going for power focus, the main path you should take on the role of an archmage, but a class like shadowcaster gives it a run for its money as far as how fun it can make the game feel due to the replenishing of mana it has in its skill set. It does not matter what class you play as or what skill points you set for your class tree, each one feels unique and special in their own way, you never feel like you play exactly the same as another players character.
The game overall isnt too difficult though, not even the original was that difficult, but mastering it and all class skill trees is where its at. However, if you feel this rpg is too easy for you, then THQ has come through for you in this remaster by adding a brand new 'Very Hard' mode to the mix,which will up the ante and make enemies in the game much more formidable opponents and give you a migraine with the heightened challenge. These are the types of features that were a much needed addition to the game to give it way more replayability than the original in 2012 didnt offer you.
But in addition to an extra difficulty mode, there is also quite a few quality of life changes to the games overall mechanics and structure that makes the game much more immersive and it makes it seem more alive, and this addition is called,Level lock. You see in the original game there was something called level lock, when you enter and leave a zone,it was stored in your system, so it would also have your current level logged and stuck to that specific level, enter at lets say 10, it stays locked there. However this has been completely removed in the master and now the game re-calculates everything you do on a zone by zone basis every time. Which brings us to another new addition/feature called level zone calculation
With the new level zone calculation,the difficulty in which you're playing the game will determine the max/min level for each zone you enter,rather than a save file. This allows flexibility enough to where you aren't hindered by too hard of enemies or too weak of enemies and can't outright out level the entire game just in one zone alone. With this new addition, it allows you to play however you want,wherever you want, without breaking the games overall mechanics and breaking the immersion. This also means that the loot has changed too, now instead of it just generating when entering a zone, now when you open it, the loot is randomized to fit your current characters skill set. Much more streamlined and one of the best new additions to this game.
When it comes to graphics, the game looks touched up quite a bit, not a huge leap, but enough to warrant calling it a remaster. I remember back in 2012, we had slews of games that had dark pallets or just really bland textures and atmospheres, but then Amalur comes out with this brighter and more cartoonish color pallet that hardly any big rpgs were really doing at that point of time and it really made it stand out. Well I'm happy to say that the art style and cartoonish look are still here and well preserved and look even better than ever 8 years later. While its not a gigantic leap in graphics, its more than enough to show that quality work was done to keep in tact a big part of the look and feel of the overall game.
At the end of the day Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning to me is another success story in the vein of remasters like Destroy All Humans. Both,while totally different games and genre,achieve the same things that they set out to do. Take a beloved cult classic,clean it up and add new additions to them to not only warrant the overall remaster of the title, but giving it more longevity for new and old fans alike. While its not perfect, as it has a few glitches here and there, such as an infinite loading screen after character selection or frame rate dips, it does more right than it does wrong and for that, I gotta say to any new comers, if you're a big fan of open world rpgs that have a lot of heart and a great narrative,then you owe yourself to play this at least once.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is out now on Playstation 4,Xbox One and PC
*Review code provided by THQNordic. Thank you very much!