Confession time. I absolutely loved The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to death investing nearly 150 hours of my life into Bethesda’s massive Role Playing Game. Comparisons with that game will invariably crop up in this review only because Skyrim set the benchmark when it came to offline RPGs. So how does Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning stack up when compared to the best? Quite good actually as it is a solid effort from developers 38 Studios and Big Huge Games offering players a healthy dose of polished content even though it is a bit rough around the edges.
Dude you can't even see me
Reckoning begins with you, the player being resurrected from the dead to fulfill some sort of divine prophecy. You find out that you’re a special breed of badass who can defy fate, kick a ton of ass and protect the world from all sorts of evil. It’s a pretty clichéd plot but it gets the job done. The first dungeon where you’re resurrected doubles up as a tutorial explaining the basics like the game’s combat (ranged, melee and magic) and leveling up system. After that, you’re free to explore the game’s vast world.
Even though this game has been billed as an open world RPG, it isn’t one much like Skyrim or the Fallout series. In fact it’s more comparable with something like Fable where the game world is divided into a bunch of smaller, diverse looking areas. I personally am not a huge fan of this kind of structure because it tends to give the game a very restricted feeling. Also quests have a distinct MMO feel to them unlike those in Skyrim that felt more natural to the game world. You’ll enter an area, see a bunch of exclamation marks on the mini map, pick up those quests and move onto the next without feeling any sort of connection to the quest givers. Also at times, rewards are not worth the effort you put into certain quests. This could eventually put you off side questing all together.
Left4Dead's the other way mate
The comparisons to World of Warcraft extend to the game’s art style as well. It was rather cheerful for my liking but to give the game credit, it does pack in a mad amount of environmental diversity. Also don’t let the game’s fairy tale art style fool you as combat is quite brutal. Combat without a doubt is one of Reckoning’s greatest strengths. In fact the combat system in this game is so fast paced and fluid you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re playing an action game at times. As a warrior, you can branch out into one of three paths that can make you proficient with a long sword (faster attacks), a great sword (slower, more powerful attacks) or blunt weapons (hammers). Mix those up with a bunch of magical attacks and the ability to switch weapons during combat and it’s like an RPG version of Devil May Cry.
Blocking incoming attacks is equally responsive as your character can get his guard up with the press of a button. Even if you’re unleashing a combo upon an enemy and see another one of his buddies ready to pounce at you, press the block button and you’ll successfully block or parry an incoming blow without really breaking the flow of action. This once again is a testament to the game’s action game-esque fast paced combat.