Review RPG

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning – Review

I remember playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning way back in 2012 and leaving thoroughly unimpressed. Mind you, I didn’t invest much time into the game and basically wrote it off as a bit pants after an embarrassingly short playtime. Nine years later I have re-entered the re-world of Re-Reckoning and I have to say, after many hours of play, my instincts were almost spot on.

Re-Returning To Re-Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur came into our world kicking, screaming and gushing copious amounts of suspiciously acquired cash. Ironically, this is probably how most people will feel when they decide to leave its mostly uninteresting, dated world. Kingdoms of Amalur commits the most heinous of crimes – it’s mediocre; average; passable; middling. It falls into a bland camp of games that is neither good enough to play for fun, or bad enough to play for a laugh. It basically languishes in the dark space between dimensions with its equally vacuous brethren.

But before I go on a tirade of foot-tapping, watch checking, and sighing, I may as well cover the only genuinely beyond-bleh thing Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning has going for it – the combat. Taking a few pages out of Peter Molyneux’s Book of Free-flowing Combat, Kingdom of Amalur is refreshingly open when it comes to dishing out all manner of death. You can swing a mighty hammer around, instantly transport it into your seemingly bottomless bag of holding, draw some daggers and get to carving up whatever gremlin is in your path. If you’re feeling extra spicy you can even engage in stealth or throw out a few spells or special abilities for good measure. Throw in dodge-rolling and stagger-inducing perfect parries and krumping enemies is a blast. There is even a time-warping murder-stance that can be used to unleash instant death on entire rooms of baddies – quite literally shattering the fabric of the universe in the process.

I found it to be rather fun and was particularly impressed at how easy it was to respec my character and alter my build. As fun as it was to mess around with, however, the amount of combat Kingdoms of Amalur expects you to partake in is rather high. After a few hours, I was feeling the tug of boredom and the simplistic, if open, nature of the system started to creep into view. It may be one of the game’s biggest strengths, but ultimately, it doesn’t do enough to save itself, let alone the whole game.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning - Battle

Write your own destiny

In terms of story, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning has an interesting concept that is executed in a way that feels bloated, bland and, like everything else, boring. Players will take on the role of an ex-corpse who, due to some Gnomish shenanigans, has transcended the intricate webs of fate. Whilst plodding through the many themed biomes of Amalur, various NPCs will exposit in your general direction, often informing you that you need to go somewhere else and do more anti-fate things. 

The game uses your fatelessness as a way to explain why the player has freedom and agency. It is a secretly genius ludo narrative harmony that I certainly appreciate on a surface level. The game doesn’t really give the concept much thought beyond that surface-level intrigue, which is a shame. You are not really free to do much as the story, and world, are mostly linear. You may not be an agent of fate, but the game lacks the openness I would have come to expect from a game made post-Daggerfall.

Whilst not a true open-world, Kingdoms of Amalur does have a semi-open-world. By this, I mean it’s a series of fancy corridors and rooms of varying sizes stitched together with an appropriate theme. Enemies, NPC’s and quests are littered throughout, as well as optional dungeons and the like to keep things feeling as grand as possible. Despite these efforts, the game just isn’t all that interesting or inspiring. This is generic fantasy through and through, and nothing from the questing structure to the enemy design does anything to instill a sense of sparkly newness.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning - Boss

Nothing worth doing, nobody worth talking to

Questing and character interactions are run-of-the-mill, with quests being bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. I did them not because I gave a rat’s derriere about them, but because they paid me. In the end, I put as much effort into them as the game did, and skipped over them to do more mundane story activities. The odd interesting tidbit was not enough to stave off the weariness of repetition.

Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning may be a remaster, but it does very little to modernize a game that is showing its age. Menus are clunky, the camera is weirdly floaty and awkward to control (especially during combat), loading screens (on the Switch at least) are irritatingly long and very frequent, and sound effects in combat are embarrassingly bad. When I go to swing my hammer at the head of a bandit, I want to hear their innards explode out of their arse, not the vapid, badly recorded sound of someone scrunching up paper. I also had issues with stuttering and regular minor frame dips. It feels rushed. At least the game comes packaged with all the DLC of the original.

Solidly Meh

Remaster be damned though, Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is a damn ugly-looking game. It reminded me a lot of Fable, only without any of the charm. Character models are ugly and comedically disproportioned, the world is varied but often smeared in vaseline-like post-processing effects. There is also a bizarre amount of out-of-place gore. Caving in the skull of a burly dude is goreless, however, performing a stealth-kill results in fountains of blood pouring out of every orifice. Sure, I found it hilarious, but it just felt out of place.

I’ve already touched on the iffy sound effect quality, but things aren’t that much better elsewhere. The legend that is Grant Kirkhope composes the soundtrack, and he does a stellar job of creating a suitably generic fantasy score. Voice acting is passable but nothing to write home about. It’s all just…there. It exists, but not much else.


Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is, in my opinion, not worth playing. It doesn’t do anything egregiously bad, it just doesn’t do much above passable either. In a world with a seemingly infinite supply of games, there are better ways to spend your time than trundling through a mire of mediocrity. 


Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC

If you find yourself wanting more RPG games, check out our review of Baldur’s Gate III.

Many thanks go to THQ Nordic who provided a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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