Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning asks the question: How would you choose to beat up kobolds, elves, and trolls for a few hundred hours? Would you want to smash them with hammers? Sneak up and stab them? Blast them with fireballs? It offers a complex combat system (that may be a bit too easy) in a vast open-world fantasy realm rich with lore and striking places, all wrapped in a package that thankfully doesn’t always take itself too seriously. With a modern HD visual upgrade, it’s as much fun now as it was when it originally released almost a decade ago.
You’ve come back to life thanks to a fancy magical doodad, and because of it, you are unshackled from the rules of fate. You can do whatever you want, so long as you want to stab thieves, fetch items for wolves in the woods, or rob people blind while their backs are turned. Admittedly, you’re supposed to be saving the world from some nasty elves that are doing unkind things to people (what with all this war business), but this being an open world adventure with what feels like hundreds of sidequests, you’ll be forgiven if you don’t fix things in a hurry,
If your finances are getting tight and you can really only afford one game to keep you busy for a few months, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning will do that. There are so, so many quests in each area for you to take on, chasing down various lost recipes, missing people, or lost spells through crumbling dungeons, sunlit woods, and magic-infused places. There is never any shortage of stuff to do in this game, ensuring you can pretty much spend as much time with this game as you like. There’s almost always going to be something else to stab, explore, or read.
Stabbing is a deeply varied affair, too. There are many different combat builds for you to tinker with throughout your time with this game. Knives, longswords, bows, magic staves, hammers, and other tools offer an array of movesets and striking speeds, giving you much to play with. As you level up, there are several skill trees you can sink points into as well, building damage for certain weapons, giving new attacks, or offering additional side abilities that you can add to your combos. Why not add a crushing stomp or blast of lightning to your knife combo to keep things spicy?
This might sound like the skill tree system from most games, but the key feature in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is being able to re-spec pretty much whenever you like. It’s a snap to go shuffle your entire build, trying out something entirely new if you want a change or if you didn’t do your build right. I initially wanted to try something stealthy, but found it wasn’t terribly viable in a game where knifing someone in the front was more fun. In some games I might have had to restart, but here, I could re-spec in moments. It encourages you to really play around with your fighting style, and adds some welcome variety to a very long adventure.
This fluidity of character creation is nice as the game’s combat demands continually grow and shift. The game loves to throw large groups of foes at you, requiring you to bounce between foes and watch your back for incoming attacks. Combat is hectic, with foes telegraphing unique strikes that you’ll have to watch out for while cleaving into other foes. It’s engaging to constantly watch the crowd to know when to dodge while fighting, and with a solid long-range roll to get you to safety, it’s easy to get out of trouble if you’re paying attention.
Depending on what you want out of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, that easiness may or may not bug you. While you can do all sorts of things in combat, none of them really require a lot of thought besides gauging the speed of your swing. The enemies aren’t all that clever, and the few that are can all be easily avoided with that huge dodge roll you have. Combat, for all of the stuff you can do in it, just isn’t that hard, so if you want a game that makes you feel like a powerful hero without demanding a great deal of careful planning or reaction times, this will do it. If you need those split-second reactions and a high threshold of challenge, you might not find it here.
For those who like to get lost in pretty places or deep lore, the game has a lot for you there, too. It’s filled with colorful places that stand out well from one another, giving you a visual incentive to keep pressing forward instead of just doing random quests. There is also so much interconnectivity in the game’s story and background lore, constantly fleshing out a massive history for players to enjoy. It’s not the most complex stuff, but it’s charming and gives the world a real sense of history.
All of this came together really well for a game that initially came out in 2012. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning looks very sharp on the PS4, with the HD upgrade making the colors pop, enhancing magic effects, creature designs, and locales. It works extremely well with the game’s cartoonish visuals, and strengthens the lighter fantasy tone of the game. With all of us going through such grim, dark times in reality, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning offers a heroic story where a good hero saves the world with relative ease. It’s not terribly challenging or filled with complex political intrigue, but rather offers you a straightforward, but very busy, journey to save the world from evil. It lets you become a champion of good however you see fit, and right now, a game about good completely annihilating evil forces is pretty welcome.