Role-playing fans have been enjoying a rush of quality RPGs over the past six to eight months, and yet another promising title will be available on February 7. It’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning , a compelling adventure that combines the depth of a grittier RPG like The Elder Scrolls and the appeal of more colorful, simpler titles like Folklore and Kameo . If you’re interested, the demo gives you a nice long look at what to expect (it's a 2.6GB download).
You get to play through the opening sequence (and quite a lot more, actually), which means you can select your class, earn experience, level up, sample the different forms of gameplay, and meet all sorts of characters. The environment will change, too, as you’ll move from a crumbling underground area full of high-ceilinged rooms and tunnels to a lush, healthy landscape complete with villages and other fantastical items of interest. Amalur is most certainly immersive.
In regards to control and how you approach combat, the developers have opted to give you plenty of freedom and accessibility. Most everything is done with the simple press of a button, and you can fully outfit your character with everything from greaves and robes to secondary weapons like daggers. You can use the latter during stealth mode (just hold R2), equip a staff, scepter or bow to execute various ranged attacks, and hold R1 and select one of four equipped spells (assigned to the face buttons). It’s easy and doesn’t require much in the way of practice.
I do have a few issues, though— first, there doesn’t appear to be a lock-on feature and that should probably have been included. You get turned around quite a bit when dodging or sprinting, and you often have to fight the camera. Second, I don’t like the fact that I have to release the block button (L1) before I can attack. That just feels cumbersome. My third and last complaint is more general, and it involves the overall atmosphere and style of the game.
Thing is, it’s sort of a mix. It appears to have most, if not all, of the depth of games in The Elder Scrolls franchise, but for accessibility purposes, there are straight-up action elements. You know, like dodging with circle, various combination attacks with certain weapons, and a special skill that allows you to literally tear apart the fate threads of enemies. There are even some QTEs, although they’re more about pressing the button repeatedly when prompted to earn extra experience.
I’m just not sure if this blend will appeal to the RPG purists. It’s far too deep to appeal to action/adventure fans who don’t want a ton of quests, items, and abilities like alchemy, sagecraft, etc. So this is really designed for the role-playing lovers, but even the colorful, almost cartoon-y nature of the game may prove to be a barrier. But we’ll just have to wait and see; all the necessary pieces are here, and I can definitely see losing a lot of hours to this one. It seems to be very well designed, too.
We’ll have to see what the ardent RPG lovers have to say when Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning hits store shelves in a couple weeks time.