Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

Art Direction

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.

Story

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Pros:

  • Action-packed combat
  • Flexible class system
  • Engaging crafting mechanic
  • Rich, expansive world
  • Solid graphics

Cons:

  • Awkward camera angles during combat
  • Ranged combat is dodgy
  • Lackluster story

Final Score: 85/100

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

8 Comments on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

Ted

On February 7, 2012 at 12:24 am

WoW + Fable nnoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo… combat is good though

Adam

On February 7, 2012 at 12:39 am

Yeah…. I think i’ll skip this one.

bob

On February 7, 2012 at 1:28 am

lackluster reviewer probabbly never read a book in his life

Ren

On February 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm

85/100…..8.5/10
lowest score I’ve seen yet and still makes me want,

Pie eater

On February 10, 2012 at 12:02 am

I like pie

deftond

On February 15, 2012 at 5:53 am

I love this game and I have been playing it non stop. I have even been going to work late and staying to 2 in the morning. I also have a life but I can’t put it down. I almost want to be sick today lol.

What I love about this game is besides the hours I spend crafting and taking apart weapons and shards is that you can go anywhere any time. Character animations are very smooth and nothing gets to be too repedative or borring at all.
I have only done 2-3 story missions but I have been trying to complete as many side quests as I would like. the other thing I like about this game is that you actually have already consumable items when they are looting or found. HIdden treasures are all over the place and they have GREAT things in them.

Arash

On March 2, 2012 at 3:29 am

enviroment is childish and full of colors.your character never talks and always you are like a servant for others and you should done their work.best quest game is 2011 in my opinion is dragon age 2 then skyrim.

Jordan

On January 29, 2014 at 11:09 pm

for those of you reading this thinking you will skip, read this. If you like a game you can play for hours without of running out of things to do or places to explore, things to collect; this is for you. As stated above the story is rather….dull. BUT the side quests and the towns you can find are fantastic! I got this for free by being a Play station Plus user and played it to pass time. i ended up putting 90+ hours in. You can stray from the story line and find small towns scattered throughout the region. Some under attack and some attacking, you can help or doom them. Your choice, however, you do receive “twists Of Fate” Which are things you MAKE happen. Things from killing a evil conniving demon to enslaving a race in the town. The possibilities are endless. If you want adventure with a VERY wide range of objectives/subjectives, this game is perfect.