by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
It can be tough for new IP’s to get started in the video game industry. With so many sequels that gamers have become familiar with over their series of releases, it can be hard for a new franchise to get a look in, especially in the Role Playing Game (RPG) genre. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is one such new kid on the block, despite the sequel sounding colonised title.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (henceforth referred to as Reckoning), begins with the strange fact that your avatar is, or was, dead. Flushed into an area known as the Well of Souls amongst all the other deceased, it appears that your character has become re-animated. It soon becomes apparent, that all is not well in the Well of Souls and in the Kingdom as a whole, as an evil form of elves, known as Tuatha are terrorising the citizens of Amalur. And your newly brought-back-to-life character will somehow bring back peace and harmony to the world of Amalur, whilst determining your fate within the world. Well that seems to be the plan, anyway.
Although the story begins in surprising fashion with the death of your character, it does take a while for the story to take hold. This is where games such as Skyrim or even Lord of the Rings Online have an advantage. Gamers playing those titles would already have some sort of prior familiarity with the locations and the characters within the game world from the outset, having read Tolkien’s novels, watched the movies, or played previous games in the series. Whereas with Reckoning, gamers are learning the lore of Amalur as they progress. But having said all that, after traversing the land and meeting the people of Amalur, you eventually do get a sense of the history of the world in which you are playing.
And Amalur is a vibrant and, for the most part, colourful world. For me, the tones and art style used are reminiscent of those used in the previously mentioned MMORPG, Lord of the Rings Online. This is in comparison to the darker brooding tones used more adult-oriented RPG’s such as Skyrim or The Witcher. The lush greens of the forests and semi-bustling towns and cities make for a splendid setting allowing the fantasy aspects of the game to thrive, as opposed to the more realistic nature of the more mature titles.
The characters themselves are well designed and they too have a certain amount of vibrancy about them despite their concerning situation in Amalur. It is definitely quite easy to differentiate the various enemy warriors, dangerous creatures and other characters/quest givers within the world. The variation in characters and their tales keeps the story fresh as you learn the back-story behind the current woes of Amalur.
Those woes are further heightened with the background music. The unobtrusive but dramatic tones give a somewhat suspenseful ambience, especially when armed attackers appear in front of you, ready to send your avatar back to Death’s door. The sound effects of swords clanging, shields bashing or spells being cast accentuate the fantasy feel of the game. The NPCs with whom you interact are fully voiced too, although I found it odd that your own avatar is strangely mute throughout the entire ordeal. It wasn’t mentioned, but the voiceless aspect may be a consequence of the re-animation process. Well, that’s my explanation, not the developers.
The amount of character customisation open to the gamer is amazing
The combat controls seem somewhat console orientated. Story takes a while to get going