Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning is a pretty direct response of Skyrim, from the way that it tells its story, way the world is laid out, and—most importantly—the way the visceral, third-person combat works. Set in a brightly-colored high fantasy world in contrast to Skyrim's more realistically-minded environment, as an answer, it's not nearly perfect and presents its own host of issues to the open world RPG formula.
Note: this review is based on 15 hours with Kingdoms of Amalur, but in the interest of timeliness, I wanted to provide an assessment of the game that I've played up until this point, which includes a healthy amount of the main quest line as well as a couple dozen side missions. However, I reserve the right to revisit it down the line when I've had more time with the game.
Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning might be the first RPG that I'm aware of where you play as a zombie. Okay, maybe not a zombie in the technical sense—you're a slain soldier resurrected by some industrious gnomes—but you are technically the living dead! Anyway, that innovation aside, there plot of the game and the actual mechanics deal with fate and how your character is somehow outside of it thanks to your "resurrection." The cohesiveness of these elements are maybe the strongest bits of KoA, showing a real sense of interplay between what the game is about, what it is, and what it does.
It's an open-world RPG, so it more or less does what you expect it to do on that front: you'll wander the varied landscapes, encountering characters and engaging in fetch and/or kill quests for XP and loot, while occasionally (depending on the kind of gamer you are) digging into the game's main quest line.
I'm going to go into why the combat and the systems surrounding it are so terrific in the WHAT'S GOOD section below, but yeah, it does feel like the third-person, combo-heavy, almost DMC-style combat is a direct response to the more methodical, first-person action of a game like Skyrim or even a good, old-fashioned JRPG. Some quirks in its implementation aside, KoA combat is the counterpoint to the effectively transparent dice rolls you see going on with other modern RPGs and it feels like a proper action game wrapped in RPG elements.
Here's how the combat and character creation of the game is layered: after creating your character (the usual race, face, body, etc.), you'll dump points into your basic Skills (Mercantile, Persuasion, etc.) in order to receive bonuses along with them. Then you'll drop some points in your abilities, which are divided across three classes: Finesse (fleet footed, low-to-medium damage weapons like bows), Strength (swords, hammers, and shields), and Sorcery (staves and additional magic spells). The Ability pages have progressive trees with upgradeable abilities, and when they relate to a weapon type, unlock additional moves for your character. Finally, you'll select a Destiny for your character, which is effectively like a class, without locking you into anything: Destinies are like catch-all buffs for your existing Abilities, providing bonuses tuned to your style of play. As the game progresses and you level up, you can unlock additional tiers in the list of Destiny cards.
Oh, and this is the most important and compelling reason to dig into the game for a few hours, at least: if you don't like the way your character plays, you can pay a Fateweaver a fee to undo all of your points across all three screens and reset them to your liking.
In terms of weapons and gear, KoA takes its inspiration from dungeon crawlers and you'll constantly be picking up new arms and armor as you kill the many brightly-colored enemies in the world. You have limited slots for the many items you pick up in the world, but instead of upping your carrying capacity as you level up, you'll have to buy backpacks from sellers scattered throughout the world (usually for a hefty fee). You can also craft your own weapons, armor, and potions based on loot that you pick up and equipment that you break down if that's your sort of thing.
As for the story, well, I'm only 15 hours in, but I'd actually have to rely on the game's press to tell you what it is about, and I blame this in part on a mostly boilerplate tale of of fate and destiny (or lack thereof) with lots of very difficult-to-contain-in my-head names and factions, and in part on my own inclinations when it comes to fantasy fiction, which is to say, I'm very much into it when the fantasy is kind of pushed the the background a little bit. Basically, an evil fae is making a power play for the entire kingdom, and his may or may not have a powerful god on his side and you, with your completely blank fate are the only one who can stop him.
This is one of the those tricky points where I have to split the difference when it comes to my reaction to the overall material: is the narrative not good because I'm not into its kind of story? Or is how much of it comes down to a complicated story that strains instead at a more desirable complexity instead?
Narrative (and some awkward presentation issues) aside, KoA is such an eclectic and interesting RPG, and it's actually a (weirdly) welcome respite from the type of enjoyment I've been getting with Skyrim.
Pages: 1 2