I’ve been playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and it’s one heck of a game. More accurately, it has successfully stolen taken inspiration from a fairly decent number of heck of a games. The conversations remind me of Bioware games. The combat reminds me of Torchlight. The weapons remind me of Diablo and Diablo II. The quests remind me of Skyrim (seriously, once the game begins proper, you will quickly be surprised to find that you’ve already got a half-dozen side quests and two main quests and a faction quest on top of that).

As I’ve mentioned before (in my review of the demo), the story is by R.A. Salvatore, the monster design is by Todd McFarlane, and the game design is by the guy who was the lead designer of Morrowind/Oblivion (his name is Ken Rolston, for the record). Now that I’ve played more than 45 minutes of the game, I can tell you that each of their influences are easily felt.

When it comes to game design, you’ll feel that this thing is familiar if you’ve played *ANY* of the Elder Scrolls games (Morrowind or Oblivion or Skyrim) insofar as each town has a bunch of people who need things as simple as a collection quest of closeby monsters to a fetch quest from a faraway town (which is filled with people who need collections quests and fetch quests and so on). When it comes to monster design, each monster is its own and each outline is significantly different (well, excepting the humanoid bandits, of course… a thief looks like a bandit looks like an assassin) but you can tell the wolves from the barghests, the ettins from the jotuns, and the pixies from the brownies (and the monsters ain’t limited to merely those guys). When it comes to your character design, you start out as a blank slate and can drop skill points into one (or two or three) of three areas (fighter/mage/rogue) and thus make yourself a better fighter (or mage or rogue or fighter/mage or…)  and buy skill points in stuff like blacksmithing or alchemy or lockpicking or persuasion (and thus get better at repairing your stuff or making potions/collecting reagents or picking locks or talking people into a third option). In addition to that, there are people that you can visit that will allow you to “reset” your character with the same amount of experience and let you redistribute everything… so if you’re sick of playing a rogue/mage character, you can take a fighter for a spin without starting over from level 0 (it costs gold to do this but by the time you’re inclined to try another character, you’ll find that gold isn’t a problem).

As for the basic plotline of the story, you live in a world where Fate pretty much determines everything… but then you died in this world. Then you came back to life and, like Pinocchio, there are no strings on you anymore. It’s good that you came back when you did because there’s another bad guy out there who has figured out how to change Fate… only he’s bad and therefore must be stopped.

Now, one thing you may notice is that all of this seems strangely familiar… you’re reading an R.A. Salvatore story like he’s written a couple dozen times before, you’re looking at characters from Todd McFarlane like you’ve seen a couple dozen times before, and you’re playing a game with mechanics from that guy who did Oblivion/Morrowind (each of which counts as a dozen games) like you’ve played a couple dozen times before. This does, in fact, amount to a video game that has an exceptionally familiar feel to it. None of these guys feel like they’re stretching themselves and while I don’t want to say that they’re merely phoning it in, they’re certainly not breaking any new ground.

Then again, if you’re *NOT* looking for new ground to be broken, if you’re not looking for something like you’ve never seen before, you’re going to find this videogame to be as familiar as a hug. Is it particularly sexy (for lack of a better metaphor)? No, not at all. It’s comforting, though. It’s done well. It’s exceptionally competent… and given the number of times that I’ve said “golly, this is really, really crappy” after dropping $50 (or $60) for a vidya game, it’s nice to play something and receive no surprises whatsoever.

(And if you’re inclined to read the review of ED Kain, the founder of our feast, (which I had *NOT* read until I finished this post) you can read it here.)

So that’s my recommendation for you this week.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I finally started the demo and the port to PC is not good – the controls are terrible and there’s no way to re-map them to help. It’s clearly designed for console play.

    I’m going to have to watch for more reviews and see if they made any improvements for the full version before I’ll spend that much on a game, which is too bad because it looks like it ought to be an awful lot of fun.

    • The PC controls are less than ideal, though I understand the console versions only let you hotkey 4 abilities, while on PC we can hotkey 8.

      • I’ve got two issues with the demo :
        One is how loose the controls are. I assume that has no change and is based on a failure to re-engineer input for keyboard+mouse (or maybe the console is just as loose?)
        The second is that I can’t re-map keys, that I could see them fixing and it would make me a lot happier.

  2. Your main critique of Skyrim, IIRC, was the combat system. as it is very lackluster if you’re a melee fighter – an opinion I share after playing just a bit of it myself. How does this game compare?

    • I kinda like it.

      You’ve got a fairly wide variety of attacks available… from daggers (that allow massive sneak attack damage but dinky damage when in actual combat) to war hammers that do *HUGE* damage (but they’re slow). There are medium-range weapons that are fairly quick and long-range weapons that are slow and ponderous but do a great deal of damage.

      It feels vaguely like Street Fighter II insofar as you can pick the type of fighter that best matches your play style. If you’re a Vega-type, you can easily make a Vega kinda fighter who doesn’t do a lot of damage with any particular hit but hits a lot of times in a very small period of time. If you’re a Balrog-type, you hit less often but you do a lot of damage with each hit (you’ll need to learn how to block, though).

      The combat is fun and fluid and being a warrior feels different from being a mage feels different from being a rogue.

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