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Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning Review

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A right royal reckoning

★★★★

An open-world fantasy RPG, headed by legendary Elder Scrolls developer Ken Rolston? Without a doubt, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning has raised a few eyebrows. Thankfully, Rolston and his fellow pop-culture rock stars working on the game (fantasy novelist R.A. Salvatore and art director Todd McFarlane) deliver the goods: Amalur is rousing high fantasy gaming at its finest.

The first successful product of arcane experiments into resurrection, you possess the freedom to weave your own destiny in a world where the fate of every other soul is intricately planned out. It’s a fitting hook for a role-playing game, accounting for your inevitable rise to power and notoriety. However, while Salvatore’s intricately woven fable is engrossing, your actions never feel to have tremendous impact on the universe you’re inhabiting. Few points feel truly world-shaping, and while you’re free to follow the main storyline or not, you never feel quite as pivotal as you should. Further points are lost by the character creation options – two human and two elf-like races seems positively minimalist nowadays.

While dialogue and levelling options borrow liberally from Bethesda and BioWare’s respective stables, the addition of ‘Destinies’ – stat-boosting titles that can be changed at will – allow considerable control of your growth pattern. Amalur’s strongest point though is its excellent combat system. In stark departure from most RPGs, both melee attacks and sorcery are speedy, intense experiences with a variety of special attacks and combos to be unlocked as you progress. Defeat enough enemies and you’ll charge a ‘Fate’ bar, slowing time and allowing you to perform impressive field-wide multi-kills.

Amalur’s influences are clear – and perhaps unsurprising – but in marrying fantastic action combat with familiar genre elements, Amalur creates something that feels surprisingly fresh. While this first outing isn’t quite the juggernaut its parents might hope it to be, it’s a very strong debut. If future efforts improve on what’s already here, Bethesda may just have some serious competition on its hands.

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