This game slept
Kingdoms of Amalur slap. That's all.
Wait do you want more? Very well.
While playing the ridiculously named Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning last week, I slowly realized how much I enjoyed the original the first time around.
The raw talent (beyond the investment angle clown show) behind this game is insane. Key members of Amalur have worked on hard-hitting RPG franchises like Elder Scrolls and Dungeons & Dragons. Todd McFarlane was involved in the art. Renowned composer Grant Kirkhope knocked it out of the park with the score. And it shows, even if it's rough around the edges.
Amalur is so durable because he's not too addicted to the RPG role. A fast-paced, old-school, almost PS2-like combat system is at the forefront, with the ability to quickly cancel rolls or dodge blocks. Combos and launchers are interwoven into the action base, as is the power to adapt to multiple builds: stealth, ranged, magic, melee, or a combination.
Surprisingly, the "secondary" weapon slot is basically what you want (the shield is separate!), so you can roll with a greatsword as your primary and a set of stealth daggers as your secondary. You also don't need to manage arrows (it's an arcade counter that auto-refills) if you toggle a remote build.
The lack of annoying holdups lets you constantly dive into fights without scouring menus to make sure you're ready. That said, the inventory system is still very complicated after the fact. As for the re-release, the game is stable and the visuals aren't a massive upgrade. It also has manual and auto-save functionality, with quick loads and the ability to skip cutscenes and dialogue. It doesn't waste your time.
If you're still wondering why I love this game so much, just take a look at my collection of PS2-era action games (read: basically all of them). Very few modern titles have managed to marry character action with a fantasy RPG setting. Fable has tried, and often failed, for the better part of a decade. Amalur gets it right: offering a whole new world to get lost in that isn't sickening or bloated.
It's crazy to think that at some point this game was promoted by someone who was sued by the state of Rhode Island and had an "online pass" (remember that? No ? Good!). But all of that is behind this series now. 38 Studios is long gone and THQ Nordic owns the rights to it. I hope we see more of the world of Amalur, because it's a universe worth revisiting.
One of my favorite RPGs in recent memory just got easier to replay. It's a victory.
[These impressions are based on a retail PS4 build of the game provided by the publisher.]
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