I've had a connection with Kingdoms of Amalur for a while now, the underrated RPG that came from the minds of Rob Salvatore, Todd McFarlane and Ken Rolston. A huge, sprawling, quirky, fun action-RPG with a lavish story and a massive world to explore. It had a very MMO-design to it, many speculated itself it was cancelled MMO and so on.

It was also good. I got to play it not long after my mom died, in fact, a few days after if my dim memory serves of 2012. I try to forget most of that year - my world changed massively and a lot happened.

Amalur though, it was my focus along with the game Journey.

So now we're in 2020 and I've been able to get a lot of time with the Re-Reckoning Edition of Kingdoms of Amalur.

I was kindly sent a code for the Xbox One version of the game by PR.

So welcome back to Amalur, old friend. It has been a long time... and it's time for a new career in the game too.

Back to Amalur we Go

Before we dive back in, I'm going to rip from our own page on Amalur and borrow a few things I want to point out. If you're after a check-list of things that Amalur delivered for me back then, and delivers again with the Re-Reckoning - here they are. It hits all of those marks for me.

  • Intense Action Combat in an RPG - Create your own unique combat style using a dynamic combat system that delivers some of the most intense and responsive action ever found in an RPG. Seamlessly integrate magic and melee attacks as you take on scores of enemies in grand fight sequences and finish them off with brutal Fateshift kills that will redefine visceral RPG combat.
  • Open World RPG Design Led by Ken Rolston - Play your way through 60+ hours of riveting storyline, diverse side quests, and open-world exploration created by RPG gurus Ken Rolston (Lead Designer, Morrowind, Oblivion) and Lead Designer Ian Frazier (Titan Quest).
  • Rich Fiction and Storytelling by R.A. Salvatore - Reckoning is set in the Kingdoms of Amalur universe and its 10,000 years of deep fiction created by 22-time New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore.
  • Art and Action Directed by Todd McFarlane - Brought to life through the direction of renowned Spider-Man artist Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn and Founder of Image Comics, Reckoning brings you intense action combat, hordes of gruesome enemies, and beautifully realized fantasy vistas.
  • Choose Your Destiny - Create your character from dozens of unique skills and abilities, and further customize it as Reckoning's revolutionary new Destiny System unlocks powerful new Destinies based on how you choose to play. Millions of combinations including skills, weapons and armour allow you complete the character that looks and plays the way you've always hoped.

So, what's changed? What's the new stuff?

KAIKO are now the developers, long time partners of THQ Nordic and from what I've seen, passionate and driven with a deep love of this game. It retains all the original content, has a lot of under-the-hood tweaks and changes - plus includes all the DLC from the previous release - Dead Kell, Teeth of Naros.

Later next year a new addon will arrive too. So, more Amalur for the fans!

We've got a lot of combat rebalances, new difficulty levels, tweaked difficulty and more to play around with. But Amalur feels decidedly old-school Action RPG with a lick of 4K paint and optimisation.

It looks very nice now and it was no real slouch before, back in the heady times of 2012.

What kind of game is Amalur?

Amalur is a huge game as I said, sprawling, third person, action adventure with a rich and detailed world packed with story. Story I'm not going to spoil one iota of, barring to talk about a mechanic or two that are tied into said story and key to why this game is actually so good, even years later.

It lets you make a quick custom character, with a few options, pick a race, a few other things. These tie in to the overall build of the character, rounding out some abilities and skills of yours that you'll find very useful for the long and twisty road ahead into the fae-drenched worlds of Amalur and beyond.

Your characters are YOURS; the world is your playground and if you want to attack guards, villagers, murder people. I'm not saying you should do that of course, the world will react, you could be arrested or killed. You can steal from anyone pretty much, rob any place.

Your character progression is one of the stand-out parts of the game, it belongs to you. All the choices that you make, every step of the way as you round out your character craft the kind that suits your playstyle.

Do you like daggers, fast, stabby, and good for backstabbing all Ninja-Assassin-Rogue like?

Two handed swords, yep, sword and board? Yep...

Magic and staves, and wands? Yeah.

Chakrams...

Wait?

Yep... seriously, one of the finest weapons for a mage in the game and so much fun to use. The humble Chakram swings out in ever-increasing arcs and is a total murder machine that's a cross between a ballerina and a blender.

There are other weapons as well, and every one in Amalur is quirky and fun to use. Unlocking abilities (combat powers etc) dovetails into this system and one again provides more options when in battle.

As you travel the Kingdoms of Amalur you'll get stronger, you'll get more power and you'll dive into a robust levelling system that takes advantage of all of this. As you level, you can choose a skill, and then spend your ability points across the rogue, warrior, and mage ability trees. Focus on one, or all three, it's up to you how you want to make this character shine. Then there's the Fate Cards that give you a bonus to your core style of play - I went for the magic side of that this time.

Experiment and enjoy!

FIGHT ON!

One of the joys for me of Amalur, apart from sneaking and shooting people with a bow on my first ever save - is the combat in the game. It's got weight, it takes some skill to truly get the best out of and it provides a good challenge if you rack it up to the higher difficulties. Or you can go for the more accessible option and lower things down so you can experience the world's story with only moments of some peril when a monster shreds your health early on.

With the new combat rebalances and a better handle on some of the mechanics, KAIKO have made the game even more fun.

Again, my favourite weapon, the Chakrams shine and they cause a lot of Area of Effect damage as they whip around. Combined with a staff for that sheer magical potential, spells, and the powers of the Fateless One - you are in for a real treat.

Parries, dodges, blocks and acrobatic moves are at your disposal and some dodges are replaced (later on) by teleports for the mage style.

Timing and not button-bashing will win the day. Use your enemy's strength against them, and also pay attention to the Fate mechanic when it unlocks. Because as you build up your Fate meter - you unlock the most powerful attack in the whole game.

'Reckoning Mode'

Your meter drains in this mode, and you must attack as many enemies as you can in the time allowed. Killing them puts them in a downed state, linking their fate to another downed enemy. When you are happy with all the enemies in a downed state - press A and you'll initiate a quick mini-game where you get to press (rapidly) a face button to boost the XP from that kill.

Regardless, you get a magic, cinematic finisher that ends the enemy.

Killing them, and any other that's downed as well.

It is spectacular. So is the XP that comes rolling in from all those kills.

Explore and Enjoy

Amalur has an MMO-feel about the world, but it is a single player experience built with a huge story, lots of quests and a few fetch-quests that were the staple of the day. For the most part though, exploration is fun, unlocking new fast travel points and finding lore stores and so on in the world. All of it tallies up XP and rewards you in some way shape or form.

Quests are tucked away here and there and finding new areas opens up even more.

I name THEE: HAMMERFACE

One of the big joys of this game is the sheer amount of customisation in terms of crafting that's available. It seems now that every game has crafting, but back in 2012, we were really impressed by just how much into the game world the crafting system in Amalur ties.

You can build weapons and armour, for any of the classes or styles you're playing as. You can add the components that make up these things in the blacksmith's bench and unlocking more milestones in the skill will allow you to do more things. Such as use more parts.

Once the weapon or armour is made, you can then name it. I named my hammer HAMMERFACE...

There's a potion and alchemy system, a crystal crafting system (think Diablo 3's gem slots) to get your teeth into too.

Lockpicking is akin to Elder Scrolls etc, and you can see Ken's influence right there.

Remastered in 4K

Yep, the remaster supports 4K and it looks fantastic on an Xbox One X that's just running 1080p. I have always loved the surreal and McFarlane style look of the characters and NPCs in this - the world feels bigger, bolder, and more fae-like because of it. It's a glorious animated cartoon show about murderous fae and ancient rituals.

The frame-rate is constant and there were no slow-downs and hitches for me beyond just the once, which a patch fixed quickly. So, kudos to the devs for that.

Musical Journey

Once again, the score for Amalur is one of those things that matches the environments - at times it's quite sombre, foreboding almost. Other times it becomes quite capricious and captures the feeling of this fae kingdom nicely.

Sound the horns of Valour

I always liked the original sound design in Amalur, and Re-Reckoning brings the world back to life with a cleaned-up sound and a much better range. I don't think much has changed in the way of the ambient effects and the sounds themselves.

Fluid Animations

Another solid part of Amalur are the animations. Again, many of them are larger than life, strong and vibrant with the weapons having several for attacks, blocks, special powers and more. The movement animations are good, and the cut-scenes have always been simple but effective. It does seem a bit stilted these days, but back then it was stellar stuff.

Voices in the Faeland

Until we get the new expansion, no new voices have been added to the game. The voice work is full of many favourites and stalwarts of the industry though. There's a lot of dialogue and lore here in the game and all of it is recorded wonderfully with some great performance and voice capture.

Re-Reckoning Re-Buy or First Buy?

I always loved my time with Amalur, and I am still loving my time with the Re-Reckoning. What with Dead Kell to dive into, and Naros, with ALL the DLC from the first run of the base game packed in with it there's a lot on offer here and the price is decent. You get a complete package, one that doesn't trick you through nostalgia. If you want to pay a bit more, you can also go for the full edition of the game and get the new expansion that's coming in 2021.

If you skip to the bottom without reading above, yes, Amalur is worth the price of admission and contains many hours of fun.

You can also own a house, and upgrade it, so you know they had that going on back in 2012 too!

Give it a go! Top quality game, remastered nicely and with new features.

Amalur awaits!