In 2012, approximately 745 years ago in video game terms, an action RPG called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was released on PC, PS3 and XBOX360. Developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, the game was a massive, sprawling, ambitious combination of rich storytelling (by acclaimed fantasy scribe R.A. Salvatore), strong imagery (by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane) and fast-paced, intuitive combat rarely seen in RPGs at the time. It launched to mostly positive reviews and sold in decent numbers. The assumption was, this would be the first chapter in an increasingly epic series, a fresh face on the RPG landscape. Fate, however, weaves a twisted tapestry and not long afterwards, 38 Studios filed for bankruptcy (due to staggering fiscal mismanagement) and Kingdoms of Amalur was destined to forever be known as that endearing one hit wonder. Cut to: 2020, unofficial year of the remaster, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is back as… Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. Oof. And to be honest, the title isn’t the only misstep here.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning has one of the strongest openings in RPG history. You’re a corpse, manhandled by dwarves onto a groaning pile of your fellow deceased, when suddenly you shuffle the mortal coil back on and begin your adventure. Why and how you’re alive, what the deal is with the invading hordes and your connection to fate itself are all questions you’ll need to explore over the course of this extremely large (60-100 hour) adventure. So, that’s the story. What’s new in this 2020 remaster? Erm, not a great deal, just quietly. The graphics have been given a minor polish, and the animation runs at a mostly solid 60 frames per second, but in terms of meaningful additions or even quality of life changes (like the ability to loot multiple corpses at once), there’s sweet Fanny Adams on offer.
So, while the combat is still fast-paced and flowing, and the story remains intriguing particularly in the main quests, Kingdoms can’t help but feel very dated indeed. Multiple fetch quests, large empty-feeling environments and exposition delivered via text dumps all chip away at your enjoyment. At nearly a decade old, Kingdoms feels particularly molested by the passage of time. On the plus side, for console owners this represents the only way to get the game and it looks as good as it has ever been. For hardcore fans of the original this may well be enough, and don’t get us wrong – there’s a lot of game here and if you’re able to overlook its shortcomings, much adventure awaits. For those of us hoping the game might get a remaster experience comparable to the likes of BioShock: The Collection or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, sadly this has proven to be an epic fantasy.