When THQ Nordic announced it was remastering 2012’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, I was excited to dive back in. This is a western RPG that wasn’t an immediate success but has gained something of a cult following in the years after its developer imploded and the would-be franchise phased into obscurity. However, few cult classics hold up as well on a design level when viewed through a modern lens, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning doesn’t buck that trend. It may be an updated version of what was once a forward-looking adventure, but it fails to really deliver on the “Re–” so cheekily jammed into its title by bringing it up to par with its current competition.
Amalur’s gameplay – particularly its combat – is still its strongest aspect. It’s a satisfyingly arcadey take on RPG combat, more reminiscent of the God of War series (or perhaps even something by FromSoftware on harder difficulties) than contemporaries like Skyrim or Dragon Age. Timing and skill are almost as important as the abilities you’ve selected or what weapons armor you’ve equipped (and there’s plenty to agonize over in that regard). That being said, its dynamic camera (that pulls back while there was a consistent challenge present right up to the final boss, it all felt a bit simplistic when compared to more modern games like 2018’s God of War or Sekiro (or even something like Horizon Zero Dawn), and I found my interest in mastering its limited nuances waning well before I reached the finale after some 40-odd hours.
That said, there’s a big world to explore with a familiar-but-unique take on classical fantasy. While most of the characters sport a fairly traditional fantasy look and the environments may show their age in terms of density, each area of the map boasts some genuinely interesting and unique location designs. From the spider-silk-covered trees of the Webwood to the massive, gnarled roots bursting out of the swamps of the Drowned Forest, there are plenty of captivating sights all across Amalur’s map – and there’s plenty to do in almost every one.
On some levels, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is still a worthwhile RPG to hack and slash your way through, even if this remaster doesn’t go above and beyond the bare minimum expectations. But while the ideas and mechanics that make games like Red Faction: Guerilla and Burnout feel special are still largely singularly unique to them, almost everything that made Amalur stand out in its day has become standard fare for just about any RPG to come out in the past decade. Its fast-paced action still entertains, for the most part, and there’s plenty to see and do in its big world – but after almost a decade of innovation and improvements, it no longer feels particularly extraordinary, and the technical issues it does have are far less excusable. Re-Reckoning is a good reminder of what made the original so great for its time but, more importantly, it’s a testament to how far we’ve come in the decade since.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, PlayStation 4, Big Huge Games
World news – GB – Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Review – IGN