What do you get when you task Kurt Rolston (lead designer of Morrowind and Oblivion), R.A. Salvatore (acclaimed fantasy author) and Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn) with creating a single-player RPG? An intense hack-’n’-slash experience called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The game’s creators promise a massively open-world experience with hundreds of hours of gameplay, serving as a precursor to their upcoming MMORPG, codenamed Project Copernicus. Most of us are jaded from countless promises of a game experience that never delivers, so what hope of redemption does Reckoning provide? Read on to find out.
Kingdoms of Amalur is a fantasy world created by R.A. Salvatore that will be brought to life through comics, novels, video games and toys. Reckoning is our first glimpse inside that world, centering on the Fateless One, previously dead, who is brought back to life through the magic of the Well of Souls. With no memory of his past and no clear destiny, the Fateless One’s future is wide open. As the Fateless One, you can choose to align yourself to a god and receive a bonus in magic, speech or combat, or you can choose the path of the godless and gain experience points at a higher rate. The Fateless One’s destiny in Amalur appears to focus on destroying the chaotic Tuatha Deohn, but I’m hoping that the game allows you to choose a side. Otherwise, is the Fateless One’s destiny really unwritten?
Reckoning’s opening gameplay is a familiar blend of “choose your name/race/powers” cut-scenes that almost all popular RPGs utilize. Each of the four playable races (two human, two elf) have bonuses (or handicaps) in areas of magic, speech and combat. The demo attempts to give us a taste of the essential types of combat without divulging anything too specific. I chose to go the way of the rogue, relying mostly on stealth and dual-wielding daggers, but the demo didn’t provide enough time to really find out how choosing this path can alter gameplay. I was still able to charge into a room full of enemies and take them out as a warrior would. I’m anxious to find out if choosing stealth would force me to be more methodical in combat, as it did in Skyrim.
In the hour or so that I played the demo, it’s clear that Reckoning is influenced by popular games in the RPG action genre. Most notable are many similarities to the Fable style of combat and storytelling. I thoroughly enjoy the Fable trilogy, so this is a strong point for Reckoning. Unique to this game, however, are its adult themes and level of violence (would you expect anything less from the creator of Spawn?). Reckoning combines RPG elements in a way that’s accessible to all gamers – not just D&D nerds – and provides mature gamers with the level of violence and storytelling that can keep the game engaging. If there really are 200-plus hours of gameplay in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, I hope the rest of the game is a strong as the demo. From what I’ve experienced so far, I’m hooked. It appears to be what I’ve been looking for in a hack-’n’-slash RPG but was never given. Reckoning is available now for the PC, Xbox 360 and the PS3.