I really wish Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning felt like it belonged in 2020.
Kingdoms of Amalur is a game that I look back on quite fondly, one that I think was way ahead of its time as an action-RPG. It was a really well-paced RPG that basically felt like a single-player MMO. So because of that, THQ Nordic’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning announcement got me excited. It was something that I was really looking forward to this year. The game didn’t earn the respect it deserved in 2012, but this re-release isn’t the one that fans deserve in 2020.
Much like the remake of Destroy All Humans, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a bare-bones remaster. This is the exact same game you played eight years ago except now it has a shiny new finish. It certainly looks better, but Destroy All Humans got a much better overhaul than this release did. There are still plenty of compelling reasons to play this if you didn’t get around to it in 2012, but it’s hard to recommend for those that played the original release.
Combat is still satisfying
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning starts off quickly. You play as The Fateless, someone who can spec and respec as much as you want. It’s an extremely interesting way to test different playstyles and builds you might not have previously tried. Generally, I opt to swing big swords around in RPGs. But in my original 2012 playthrough, I experimented with every weapon and had a ton of fun with the mid-ranged chakrams.
The insanely satisfying and fun combat is still intact in this release and remains the title’s high point throughout. Long combos that can have elemental effects attached to them are just as satisfying. There’s no denying that Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a fun game, it’s just pretty rough. I would have loved to see an update to the control system. It worked fine in 2012, but jarring character movement doesn’t hold up eight years later. It’s fine enough in combat, but it makes exploration pretty clunky.
I haven’t played it since 2012, but I don’t remember the original release feeling so disjointed either. Each main area is fairly open, but moving into any smaller area is broken up into a separate loading screen. Loading times were quick enough though, but modernized level and map design would have benefitted Re-Reckoning greatly. Luckily, a lot of the areas here feel unique and interesting, making it worthwhile to explore as much of the world as you can.
A performance boost
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning definitely runs significantly better than it originally did, which is all thanks to new hardware. I played on Xbox One X, and things ran at a silky 60 FPS in 4K. Looking into the PS4 Pro version, it apparently runs at 60 FPS in 1440p, so while there is a bit of a difference in resolution between the two main consoles, there isn’t too much of a delta between them.
The visual updates do help bring Kingdoms of Amalur closer to modern consoles. It can often look quite vibrant and pretty, particularly while in combat delivering those flashy devastating combos. In 2020, it just doesn’t hold up well against more modern RPGs at a $40 price tag. It seems like most of the work went into just updating the visuals instead of updating any of the other mechanics and systems at play that would have elevated Re-Reckoning above being another minimal remaster.
Again, I would have liked to have seen more quality of life improvements for gameplay instead of a new difficulty mode and game rebalancing. I wouldn’t have known some loot had been rebalanced if I hadn’t looked at the full list of changes made here. It’s a missed opportunity.
After getting every achievement and trophy on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 release of Kingdoms of Amalur almost a decade ago, I was ready to dedicate another good chunk of time to its remaster. Instead, I think I’ll put my time into more recent releases that feel more worth my time leading into the next-gen console launch.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.