Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review
When I heard artist Todd McFarlane, best known as the creator of Spawn, would be creating artwork for KoA:R, I envisioned a game with a dark and gritty comic book aesthetic. While the comic book feel is distinctly present, I was surprised to see a world of majestic high fantasy, with elements reminiscent of Guillermo del Toro’s work in Hellboy 2.
The art direction treads the fine line between “stylized” and “childly cartoonish,” with rich colors, distinct lines, and mild caricature. Heavy use of post-processing effects, a liberal application of bloom and fog, and an oversaturated color palette give KoA:R the dream-like quality you’d expect from a fairy-tale world. While I feel this aesthetic was overdone — little irks me more than blatant use of bloom — and that the heavy saturation sometimes creates a scene with too much visual noise, I won’t fault the game for this stylistic choice.
What I immediately loved about KoA:R’s visuals is that every weapon and piece of armor just looks *cool* — even the first rusty longsword I picked up looked impressive. Where other RPGs start you off wearing rags and wielding sticks, KoA:R sets the initial bar high and only moves up from there. Character models are well-detailed, and while the game’s overall artistic style may not suit everyone, from a technical standpoint, the graphics are excellent.
In its initial moments, the story gripped me — you wake up buried in a pile of corpses, left for dead. Buzzing flies, poisonous stench lines, and your character’s facial expression and body language truly captured the horror — I could actually smell the stench of rot. It was a powerful scene.
Unfortunately, that was the high point of the story, in my experience. The plot just didn’t engage me. The basic premise is that your character, who is recently resurrected, is not bound by fate, and more so, alters other people’s fate through his actions. The big secret behind all this is dangled before you like a carrot on a stick from quest to quest, and the story hinges on you actually being interested in this one secret. Sadly, I wasn’t. As far as plot hooks go, this one is a step up from the tired trope, “You awake with amnesia.”
I’m not confined to fate. I get it. I got it two quests ago. Why are we still hammering away at this, five quests later?
I believe my apathy stemmed from a lack of interest in the game’s silent protagonist, who, through a complete lack of personality, seems to be the dullest person in Amalur. Other characters have voices, depth, emotion; the world itself is full of whimsy and wonder; and yet the plot revolves around someone with less emotional range than Keanu Reeves.
Let’s return to our initial question: what do you get when you mix World of Warcraft, God of War, and The Elder Scrolls?
An action-RPG with hard-hitting combat, deep character advancement, and a distinct visual style.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning may not win any awards for its plot, but it’s a solid title with fun gameplay, a rich world, and enough content to engage you for countless hours. While some RPGs rely on a strong story to keep you trudging through one dull combat sequence after another, KoA:R’s fast-paced combat may be enough to keep you hooked, regardless of your thoughts on the story.
- Action-packed combat
- Flexible class system
- Engaging crafting mechanic
- Rich, expansive world
- Solid graphics
- Awkward camera angles during combat
- Ranged combat is dodgy
- Lackluster story
Final Score: 85/100