Why Didn’t Everyone Play Kingdoms Of Amalur?!

By John Walker on February 26th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

There’s a game you probably didn’t play. It came out last year, it’s a genuine epic, a vast, elaborate RPG with a sprawling story and vast numbers of sidequests. It features superbly in-depth combat, has huge variety in character design and levelling, and lets you instantly wander from the main plot and explore its enormous world to your own entertainment. It’s Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning.

I remember attending a press day in late 2011, looking at a selection of EA games, and Amalur was there. But no one suggested I take a look at. In a quiet moment I snuck onto one of the long row of empty PCs to have a go, found myself intrigued, and then was angrily told to stop by an EA representative. Playing unsupervised, tsk. That was as close as I got.

A week and a half ago I was trying to get onto the SimCity beta weekend, but Origin was falling to pieces, servers down, logins impossible. And I saw Amalur there, downloaded to my PC, on a whim from a while back and never explored. For whatever peculiar reason, the set of EA servers that allowed that game to check in on itself worked, and after some moronic requirement to “authenticate” my PC, two separate EULAs, and yet more logging in, I was able to get to a game menu. I’ve not stopped playing since.

I must have put in a couple of dozen hours in the last week or so. And by the map, I’m maybe just over halfway exploring the world, so halfway through the main story, the three separate faction quests I’ve found so far, and the 60 or so sidequests I’ve completed. I’m so hooked, so completely drawn in to its fantasy world, and I’ve no desire to stop. I’ve little desire to do anything else but keep playing. I want to start to explore why.

It’s also important to note that Amalur is riddled by bugs. Amazingly stupid bugs that in no way should ever have cleared testing. Bugs like the quest screen completely falling to pieces and going blank once you’ve about 20 quests running (something that’s unavoidable). And of course bugs that, now creators 38 Studios and Big Huge Games no longer exist, will never be fixed. Yet despite this, it’s still incredibly robust for a game of its scale, and especially for a game that offers you an extraordinary amount of freedom.

While there’s much to criticise, there’s far more to celebrate. This is a really fantastic game, bursting full of story, combat and exploration, and yet you probably didn’t play it.

Amalur is impressive on a number of levels. The two most important are its distilling of the very best of an action-RPG MMO into a single-player game, and its meta-commentary on the very nature of games. But don’t be put off by either! No, really, don’t! I want to explore those two.

It’s not a surprise that the game should have so many similarities with a game like World Of Warcraft. Of the two teams that made it, 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, the former was already working on an MMO. The doomed developer, with all that money via the deals of baseballist Curt Schilling, had been developing a massive universe along with author R.A. Salvatore, with a 10,000 year history, and all the background needed to create an ongoing, online game. After 38 bought BHG, along with them came not only the Big Huge Engine, but an RPG they’d been working on for THQ. The two, like the studios, were combined. Goodness knows what either might have been, but the combination is a purely single-player RPG with the depth and breadth of an online world.

We’re talking Dragon Age: Origins scale here, but in a far freer, far more open world. While you do eventually navigate its enormous stretches through the map’s quick travel, you could still run anywhere too. It’s all open, all connected, and all packed with so much going on.

The other tempting comparison is Skyrim, and that megalithic RPG having come out just a couple of months before can’t have done sales of Amalur any favours. But it’s definitely an inappropriate comparison. Yes, you can ignore the main plot, yes, you can kill absolutely anyone, anywhere, and still have the game somehow cope, and yes, it has the most stupidly designed inventory menus imaginable. But the atmosphere, the tone, the intangible feel of it all – to compare it feels weirdly wrong. It’s something much brighter, something much more accessible.

That’s hugely helped by its being a third-person action game. Combat is true to that too, relying on some healthy button mashing and frantic dodging. Big fights with giant creatures are chunky, satisfying brawls, as you hammer away at the A button (yes, I picked 360 controls for this, and with the wayward mouse it’s definitely the better option, and the one with which the game was obviously primarily designed to be played), throwing in shield blocks, dodging rolls, and your array of special abilities, spells, and old-school button combo moves.

For me, what’s made this especially special, is it’s the first time I’ve ever bothered to properly engage with a game’s blocking mechanic. Like how most fun action-driving games really never need you to press the brake, most action-combat games never really need you to bother with blocking. There are ways, means, hammering of buttons that generally get around such a faff if you’re as lazy as me. But here it’s so damned rewarding, so absolutely satisfying every time you time it perfectly, that I’m finally converted. I’m actually slowing down for the corners, rather than bumping off the barriers at the side.

But when a game like this has such an emphasis on the combat, invariably that means the RPG side of things is watered down. Action-RPGs, the Diablo-mould creations, tend to have wispy plots, little chats to be had in hub towns, then back to the biffing. But that’s absolutely not the case in Amalur. You could easily spend an entire evening nattering away with the residents of a newly discovered city, exploring the side-streets for those in trouble and needing your help, negotiating with bigwigs, exchanging loot for new equipment, handing in completed quests, discovering secret treasures in dungeons hidden behind a house’s backrooms, stealing all the valuables from everyone’s bedroom drawers, and gathering a new armful of tasks to complete in the surrounding area.

Then off you go, aiming toward quest markers, having spots of combat along the way, until you’re inevitably distracted by an intriguing looking building, or dead body containing some odd clue, or pathway leading to an enclosed area, and so on. That measure by which I test all RPGs for goodnessity – the impossibility of actually going where you intended without getting waylaid – is triumphantly ticked here in a big thick red marker pen.

When I began playing, I realised that I’d started this game once before. I vaguely recognised the opening moments – being dead and wheeled in a cart to a heap of other deads, interwoven with the character creation. Then waking up, alive again, and escaping the odd place you’re in. I recalled the stuff about Fateweaving, about how Fateweavers determine the fixed paths of our futures based on the magical nature of Fate, but that I had no path, that I was different. I remembered the opening village, the dying blue woman on the ground, and then I must have been distracted by a bee in a jaunty hat, because there my recollection ended. But perhaps because I’d seen this village previously, rather than focusing on the stories being set up there, I charged off up a hill toward a pretty looking stone. And from there across some fields, until I discovered another blue character – one the Fae (basically, elves) – who asked me to do a thing that directed me, in stages, toward the Elv- Fae city. I ended up getting embroiled in their story, rather than the main plot, for a long time.

The Fae are immortal. Sort of. They die, sort of routinely, but then come back to life and repeat their cycles. The Cycle, in fact, is the key to Fae culture. Because they are their own history (although that gets complicated too), they retell the same existences as stories, endlessly looping their reality, their lives being the folktales they tell. That’s just brilliant. And it’s the first part of this game’s commentary on the nature of storytelling, and the invasion of a player. Because things aren’t following the correct patterns. The cycles aren’t looping, and baddie Faes are taking advantage of this, manipulating the changes to see themselves come to power. The endless battle between the Winter and Summer courts of the Fae are beginning to change their determined outcomes, the Winter Fae starting to win where they should lose. And it seems to have a lot to do with you, and why you don’t obey the rules of Fate.

It’s not just the Fae this applies to. They have a broader perspective of the other races, especially the humans, nicknamed by Fae as “dustlings”. Their lives too are pre-determined, although they may live in denial of this. Because they’re all NPCs, right? Gettit? And yes, in my just stating it in some words it may seem a little trite, but the game doesn’t spell it out so obviously. There’s no elbow-nudging. Instead it’s just a lovely, underwritten acknowledgement of the nature of the player, the person who comes in and changes the inevitability of the course of all their lives.

Which might usually be something that’s rather undermined by the game’s inevitably being linear. Yet Amalur gets away with this too. Yes, it says, this is a linear path. You are on this route, this is your destiny, and that’s the nature of life. Except as you travel this path, the outcomes of your actions are not fixed. That’s true in the decisions you might make in a minor sidequest, whether to help him, or her, and the small-scale consequences of that. And it’s true in what the game calls Twists Of Fate – key points in which you (not knowing they’re key points, crucially) make a decision that dramatically changes the course of history.

I, for instance, am now ruler of the House Of Ballads, one of the highest positions in Fae kind. And I’m not Fae! What manner of madness! Also, my defiant Atheism (I’m roleyplaying!) has led to my being declared an Unwritten One, further determining my own future. (Although I’ve somewhat undermined that by pretending to become a follower of Lyria because I wanted the XP – elsewhere in the game I’ve been given the conversation option of lying when it comes to such matters, this time it didn’t.)

I don’t yet know how far this commentary will reach, or whether it will fade aside to let the more generic fantasy tropes that permeate all come fully to the front. Because in honesty, for most of the time, for the ten thousandth time you’re looking for the ten thousandth person reported missing after they wandered off into Deadlytraps Dungeon or the like. Most of the time it’s political machinations between pretend clans of people you didn’t know existed last week, and so are hard-pushed to care too much about now. In fact, and perhaps super-meta-archly-appositely, I more often find myself siding with whomever I think will lead to a more interesting outcome. Were they planning that? I don’t think they were planning that. But still, it’s happening.

Also, I SO love the woodpecker-like sound it makes when your magically restoring quiver of arrows refills.

I have so much to say about this game. I’m very aware that this is madness, extensively writing about a game that came out a year ago that everyone ignored, from a studio that no longer exists. But dammit, if I can convince a handful of people to pick up a copy, then I’ll be happy. I want to talk about how it embodies everything that’s great about the RPG, as well as how it embodies everything that’s completely ridiculous. So next time, how I accidentally killed the entire population of a monastery.

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361 Comments »

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  1. monkeybars says:

    Because the demo was bad and it’s still $60 on Steam.

    • RichardDastardly says:

      This. AND it came 2 months after Skyrim. Stupid mistake.

      • Phantoon says:

        Combat was better than Skyrim’s, though.

        • President Weasel says:

          And it has a pretty stupid name, Colon of Colons: The Coloning. It’s the first game in the series (the series that won’t happen now), just call it something.
          Also there wasn’t much of a PR push, and Skyrim was out as has been said.

          • Gnoupi says:

            “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Skyrim hides its colonostomy well.

          • Davie says:

            With Skyrim it’s [Series] [number]: [Title] which is completely reasonable. You learn the name of the game and that there are ostensibly four others like it. When it’s a single game that has yet to be part of a wider setting or franchise, colons and subtitles just look silly.

          • Bhazor says:

            I think the real problem with the name is that no one knows how to spell it. Obviously that becomes a problem when you’re searching for it online.

            I for example always wrote it as Amarula.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Think yourself lucky. I got King Dong and A Male Ewe.

            Which isn’t even biologically correct, let alone morally.

          • AdmiralFrosty says:

            I’ll be honest, the name didn’t pass my garbage filters until weeks after it released and people talked about it. It sounds so freaking generic that I never even thought about it.

          • sinister agent says:

            The title is certainly a huge negative. I honestly didn’t know whether I’d played it or not when I read the title of this, and had to search my PC and inbox to check it. I’ve bought or read about at least 10 other games I will probably continue to confuse it with.

            I’d probably have given it a look back in 2011, but I can’t really justify it now.

          • LintMan says:

            @AdmiralFrosty – yeah, the generic title basically camoflaged this game from me for a long time; even after I read a few positive reviews and comments I kept forgetting what it was.

            It eventually sunk in enough that I thought to pick it up if I saw it on sale, but soon afterwards 38 Studio imploded and I decided to give it a pass.

          • HadToLogin says:

            To burst your bubble: game called “The Elder Scrolls” doesn’t exist. There’s Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, but there never was anything just called “TES”.
            Looks like they wanted to mimic Bethesda’s in naming too.

          • remote says:

            Skyrim, yeah, sure. There was also Dark Souls, and when I already thought, “What appeal does Skyrim really have for me when Dark Souls is so clearly superior,” of course there was no reason for me to even consider playing Amalur. And I still play Dark Souls all the time.

        • Zelos says:

          And so was the story, and the world, and the quests, and the graphics.

          Pretty much everything really.

          New IPs can’t compete with major titles like that, regardless of the quality of either.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            I think a new IP needs to distinguish itself to at least have a chance. Apart from the MMO trappings what makes Amalur stand out? Genuinely curious here. The bit about the fae does seem interesting but I only saw that mentioned in reviews after the game’s release.

            It was as if the marketing campaign put more effort into talking up potential sequels than they did elaborating on the strengths of the game.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            EDIT: Snargelfargen beat me.

            I disagree completely. New IPs can compete, they just need to present something new, focused and appealing.

            Trying to please the gods of mainstream with kingdom of genericness, offering the same elves and horned ancient evil, just doesn’t work.

          • PopeRatzo says:

            Of course new IPs can compete. They just have to be special. And while Amalur was really good, it wasn’t all that special at a time when people were playing Arkham City and a bunch of other standout games. Amalur was not that different from say, Darksiders II. It’s a bunch of sword-y clobberin’ with elves and stuff. Climbing around on ruins. Third person. With a goddamn controller.

            Couple of years ago Bioshock was a “new IP”, after all and it did pretty well.

            I played the hell out of Amalur. I enjoyed it. Didn’t finish it. But I didn’t get to it until other greater games were out of the way.

            I hope we reach a point where there are too many great games for one person to play them all unless you are a very committed, very unemployed gamer.

          • Triplanetary says:

            But if you’re unemployed how can you afford all the games?

          • lociash says:

            >Why did no one play KoA

            Because it was so unbelievably dull, I purchased it completely drawn in by the premise of RA Salvatore creating the mythos/world having loved the Drizzt books and looking for a new RPG having playing multitudes of them.

            But what I got was dull, uninspired and playing to cliché in the worst ways. Sure the combat was more interesting than a number of similar games, but it was also exceptionally easy even on harder difficulty levels throw in a MMO style quest grind system and what I ended up with was a terrible case of buyers remorse.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            @ Iociash
            I’m afraid it’s been a while since Salvatore has done anything decent, so seeing his name attached isn’t necessarily a good thing. The Sellsword trilogy was all right though.

          • Kestilla says:

            Snargel you are so right. Sellswords, sure. Drizzt? I’ve read a lot of Drizzt books, but damnit are they cliche, and the cast of supporting characters are awful. You know you have a problem as the creator of dozens of characters when on the same page, each of them starts using the same catchphrases you have bouncing around in your own head.

            I played the demo of this game and was extremely unimpressed. I was bored almost instantly, and after entering the second, snaking cave/tunnel with no light at the end, facing another mind-numbing fight against who cares enemy number five, in this extremely general fantasy land that had failed to grip me at all, I just turned it off. I expect a lot more from my supposedly open world fantasy games these days, and Amalur felt very restrictive and underwhelming.

        • Max.I.Candy says:

          “Combat was better than Skyrim’s, though.”

          …..not excactly a hard thing to do.
          Its one of the things that kept me playing so long…that and the upgrading and skills and crafting and whatnot. All in all I prefer Amalur a bazillion times more then Skyrim.

          • socrate says:

            amalure when i “tried it” was extremely WoWish and other then the combat it didin’t offer something really worth talking about it was pretty much a straight line and the balancing on creature and AI made the combat system pretty much useless…i think people tend to remember game in a better version then they usually are…happen ALOTS…i have friend that still glorify EQ each year and this year i actually made them play it….they went back to WoW after 1 week…../rolleye

            amalur as pretty much only combat going for it….i don’t even think it compete with TES series since TES is really free roaming while amalur sure you can go forward and back and sometime even left or right but it always end up going forward in the end.

            The fact that its so freaking costy doesn’t help at all and EA tend to be stupid in terms of money.

            In the end Kingdom of Amalur ended up being a single player watered down(if that is even possible at this point) World of Warcraft….and if im gonna get that id rather just go play WoW instead.

      • Danarchist says:

        I think the buggy demo, a poorly timed release date, and just general bad word of mouth from people on forums that had never actually played the game (I saw my first negative thread about the game before the demo even came out) pretty much did a third trimester abortion. I received it as a gift from one of my friends and didn’t play it till I finished Skyrim. Overall I really prefer the combat and story of Amalur. I have sank more hours into Skyrim thanks to mods, but only by about 15hours. I have no idea why it was so negatively received, but I have played the living crap out of it and not gotten all the way through the game yet.
        The combat can get samey unless you respec once in awhile to use different abilities, but I mean, my stabby stabby sword guy has been an archer and mage too.
        That’s without restarting, you can respec everything for a chunk of cash and completely change how you play on the fly.

    • dE says:

      I concur. To both statements.
      To further expand upon that:

      The demo was having control issues, there was a constant lag to everything I did. Input, wait a second, output. What I played was fair enough, but seeing DLC pile up already and given that it didn’t really grab my attention big time, I ended up putting it on my watchlist: It’s good enough a game for me, but not great enough to warrant full price.
      Then, that origin thing. For reasons that are entirely my own, I will not use Origin. However, the only pricedrops I’ve ever seen were either by Origin or through retailers for Origin. I might grab it for the Toybox though. But there’s a big enough list of games for that, I’ll buy prior to that.

      So the combination of those two things means I won’t be playing it anytime soon.

      • Archonsod says:

        It’s been on sale on Steam about twenty times in the past year.

        • qrter says:

          Maybe it’s a mainland Europe thing..? Because I haven’t seen it go on sale even once, not in one of the large sales, nor in a daily deal.

          • dE says:

            Yeah. Maybe.
            I just double-checked with several price history things (well the two popular ones). It’s listed as having been on sale once, with a pricedrop of 25% for a weekend. That’s the only instance of a steamsale of this game I can find.

          • Delixe says:

            It was on sale on the Origin EU store recently for €5 along with a load of other titles like Crysis 2. Of course the only problem with Origin is the DLC never, ever seems to go on sale.

          • Baines says:

            I’ve read before that due to the bankruptcy of 38 Studios, Steam cannot reduce Amalur’s price. Other sites made different arrangements, and are not restricted the same way.

            If what I read was true, Steam made their arrangement directly with 38 Studios, while other sites made deals with I guess EA? Or maybe it was Big Huge.

          • HadToLogin says:

            Rumour says Amazon is nearly finished with negotiations about being able to sell Steam Keys (I know they started them, there was no word about them failing). And they sold bundle – game and DLCs.

        • monkeybars says:

          According to this: steamprices.com/us/app/102500/kingdoms-of-amalur-reckoning it’s been on sale once, for three days in April, for $40.

        • Patches the Hyena says:

          That’s just wrong. I can only remember one sale, for 25% off. It never went on sale during the Summer or Winter Sales, which is a shame because it could’ve sold quite the bundle.

        • scottossington says:

          Gamersgate has it on sale all the time

          • qrter says:

            I’d guess you live in the UK – Gamersgate very regularly has EA deals for the UK that don’t apply to the rest of Europe.

          • HadToLogin says:

            But not Steam version. And most PC gamers are Steam-fanboys.

          • Apocalypse says:

            Origin keys I bet.
            Most PC gamer are origin hate-boys.

            Me included, it must not be steam, I am really happy with DRM-Free humble bundles, honestly, I enjoyed impulse while it was still run by Stardock. , I am fine with uplay if there is no always-on-DRM. I am not fine with Origin.
            The only way I could become ever fine with origin would be if they start selling DRM-free. I do not trust EA after they have kicked me in the nuts countless of times already.

    • Feferuco says:

      The demo was 2 hours of playing a version almost entirely like the full version, however you liked and almost as far as you wanted to, that was a good demo to me.

      Better than playing a segment of the game that the devs think is the most awesome with a bunch of skills and weapons that wouldn’t actually have.

      • monkeybars says:

        I meant that the demo ran like crap and played poorly. I had to turn off features so my screen wouldn’t be completely black the entire time. I didn’t have a problem with the content that was presented.

        • mabnvw646 says:

          He is moving the gun and head separately from each other. In that version of the mod he controls the “body” with a gamepad and the camera by looking around.
          Check out his Half-Life 2 video where he use a separate tracker taped to a plastic gun for aiming (and walking with the analogue stick on the gun controller).

          Edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H2rL-lBxRs

    • Convolvulus says:

      Yes, bad demo + price kept me away. The console demo I tried was buggy and looked awful; I don’t trust EA, so I couldn’t go with their PC version; and I couldn’t get it from Steam because the state of Rhode Island still hasn’t dropped the price. Now that the devs are gone, I can’t buy a console copy because it’ll never be fixed, so I’m just waiting to see if the Steam version ever goes on sale.

      Also, Bethesda had a 33% Skyrim discount on the day that Amalur released, and I had a “25% off Skyrim” coupon from Valve that was about to expire. So Amalur was the furthest thing from my mind for a while.

    • TomxJ says:

      Same. Jumped on the demo asap, was dissapointed.

      • SeismicRend says:

        KOA:R is a good example of one of the many ways demos hurt sales. 38 Studios outsourced the demo and it had technical flaws that the full game did not which lost them a lot of potential sales.

    • Teovald says:

      From times to times, I check the price of Amalur on Steam, see that it is still the full retail price , shake my head and exit the page..
      Does anybody know a way to buy Amalur and all its addon at a reasonable price and get steam keys (I don’t think it is on GOG) ?

      • AraxisHT says:

        The only place to get a Steam key is on Steam. In fact, I think Steam is the only place to get an Origin-free copy.

        • HadToLogin says:

          I think Steam still have Origin copy, but in a same way Dragon Age or Alice are Origin games – you need Origin account to login into game.

        • Teovald says:

          Origin only ? That may be another reason for the irrelevance of Amalur … Not a lot of people are going to subscribe to a new service in order to play to an unknown game.
          Even when a good like Arkham City forces me to subscribe to a new service (and in that case a buggy one that will randomly delete my savegames), it makes me regret my purchase…

    • aliksy says:

      Yep. Tried the demo, wasn’t that impressed. Combat was … I don’t remember, so it couldn’ve been that good. Skill progression looked awful. Stealth stunk. Interface wasn’t very good. Races felt like a bad D&D homebrew.

      But despite all of that, I haven’t seen it on Steam for < $7.50. I'd probably try it again for $5.

    • GoliathBro says:

      Yup, I got the demo, and thought it was absolutely trash. The combat looked interesting, but I also had the one second delay problem which was really weird, and the environment in the demo to me felt extremely limited and invisible wally.

      Might give it a second go now, though.

    • Jumwa says:

      Same. The demo did not impress in any manner and the game has never gone on any noteworthy sale.

      When other top tier year old games are selling for $5-10 I can’t bring myself to spend six times that. Not when I have a massive catalogue other titles to play.

      • Zelos says:

        Name one $60 game from a year ago that is selling for $5-10.

        (You can’t because there aren’t any)

        • GoliathBro says:

          I actually bought this with a bunch of DLC (or was it an expansion pack?) in an Amazon sale for $12, albeit I havent installed it since.

        • db1331 says:

          I passed on Sleeping Dogs for around $5 on Steam a couple months ago. I simply have too big of a backlog.

        • Jumwa says:

          A couple examples off the top of my head: I got Human Revolution last year for $5. Got two copies of F.E.A.R 3 last summer for less than ten.

          Haven’t bought anything in the past few months however, since I’ve been overrun with work.

          • Premium User Badge

            Phinor says:

            To be fair, the first time F.E.A.R. 3 dropped down to $4.99 in Steam was over a year after the release. The first time Deus Ex: Human Revolution dropped to $4.99 in Steam was also well over a year after release.

            Anyway Amalur will likely never drop down in price in Steam because the publishing company no longer exists. There’s a sliver of hope that Amazon’s magnificent Tony actually succeeds in acquiring keys that activate on Steam but that’s about it.

            Now all of the above is void if you accept stores other than Steam. I know F.E.A.R. 3 and DXHR both activate on Steam but it’s not a fair comparison, because Amalur Origin copies have been available for peanuts elsewhere as well.

          • Jumwa says:

            I never bought them on Steam.

            These days with digital games competition so high, I find Steam is usually beat out by places like Greenman Gaming, Gamersgate, or GetGames.

        • Mrs Columbo says:

          I bought the excellent Max Payne 3 in the pre-xmas sale for £6, I seem to recall.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Man you’re lucky.
            I bought Max Payne 3 but it wasn’t the excellent one, it was the interactive movie one

    • db1331 says:

      This is all there is to it. I remember while I was playing the demo on Steam a buddy messaged me and asked “How is it?” I said, “It’s not a $60 game.” In my opinion, it should have been $40 at release. You can’t put out something like that right around Skyrim and ask the same price for it.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Why not? It’s better than Skyrim.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Doesn’t matter. Check this out- skyrim sells millions… KoA killed it’s developer.
          Shouldn’t have released it at $60 when Skyrim came out. It failed. Doesn’t matter if it’s better (it’s not) it failed partly because of this.
          And yeah, it failed. No one plays it and those that did are commenting here and mostly hated it.

    • Bob says:

      Yeah, I didn’t like the demo. It took ten minutes to work out I had to hit “Enter” to exit…I can’t recall what.

      A couple of Steam buddies played the full version and seemed to enjoy it. They enjoy a few games I don’t so I gave it a miss anyway just on the demo’s “evidence”.

    • benkc says:

      More or less. I actually felt the demo was rather well-done: IIRC, a 90-minute timed demo, but the timer only started after you finished the tutorial section and paused any time you were faffing about in menus or dialog or cutscenes, and more content then you would likely get to in those 90 minutes.

      But… it all felt a bit too… MMO-ey? I can’t recall exactly what I didn’t like about it, but I clearly remember that my decision was to wait until it dropped to at least $20 in a sale. And, AFAIK, it has never gone on sale. (Edit: Reading the rest of the comments, apparently it has gone on decent sales a few times, just never on Steam.)

      Edit again: Wait, does it require Origin even if you buy it elsewhere? (Some of the comments seem to indicate that. I hadn’t realized that.)

      • HadToLogin says:

        Don’t know for sure (since I don’t have it), but knowing EA I’m guessing it require Origin account in a same way Dragon Age or Alice requires them, not actual software.

    • sonofcaine says:

      True. I honestly was willing to buy it but the demo killed it for me.

    • KrisuTeam says:

      For those who are interested in getting the game and not hung up on getting it on Steam, here are some places selling the Origin-version of the game for under $30: http://www.cheapshark.com/search?q=amalur

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      It’s only 10 quid ($15) in the UK on Amazon.co.uk

    • Lemming says:

      Bad demo
      Stupid Title
      Origin required
      Too expensive
      Image problem of appearing a generic fantasy RPG.

      All of the above.

  2. Phantoon says:

    Because it was an MMO without other people.

    Actually, I did play it. But it was an MMO without other people.

    • BTAxis says:

      Thing is, I would consider that a good thing. The reason why I don’t play MMOs is the other people.

      However, Amalur has other problems, chief among which is its lack of change as the game goes on. It’s a long game, and it gets really samey rather quickly. I enjoyed it for the time I played it, but I didn’t beat it.

      • Phantoon says:

        That’s what I meant.

        MMOs are basically all very samey. It’s a game type as well as a structure. Like Planetside 2 is referred to as an MMOFPS, because it’s not click button make thing happen. Unless you’re a Vanu sniper, then I guess it is click button make thing happen.

      • MrMud says:

        No, thats not good. MMO’s are all about padding content with meaningless and dull tasks. Unfortunately Amalur was the same.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Exactly.
      John, if you played the game for 10+ hours you will easily figure it out.

      It was simply MMO without other people. Like if you would take some fake WOW server and just play it with population 0.

      There are reasons why MMOs have certain gameplay. And its certanly not because that gameplay makes sense in single player game. This is what Amalur failed to understand.

      Its a very simple reason why it failed.

      • John Walker says:

        But that simply isn’t true. And I’ve played the game for around 25 hours, maybe more. The dialogue, the non-combat, and the changing the direction of the story have little in common with most MMOs. It’s ridiculous to dismiss all that makes it an RPG, unless you’re going to retrospectively include a lot of pre-MMO RPGs too.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          The Gothic series actually has quite a lot in common with MMO mechanics. I think the two genres (action-rpg and mmo) have often drawn inspiration from each other over the years.

          So I guess its a fair comparison, although the same gameplay mechanics often serve a different purpose in single-player.

        • Feriluce says:

          Really is a single player mmo though. You start playing, get intrigued by the combat, but after a few hours, you realize that all you’re doing is very basic questing, and that you’re actually very, very bored. That is the point where you stop playing and never pick it up again.

          It was just a resounding “…meh?”.

          • mouton says:

            Reminds me of Borderlands 1/2. The worst case of mind-numbing questing I have experienced in a long while.

        • Premium User Badge

          lethial says:

          I really enjoyed the game and have the super collector’s edition. It really is a shame that the game faded into oblivion, since there are really a lot of details that John has pointed out.

          I do have a question for you though John. Have you gotten “The great general” quest yet? I encountered a game breaking bug there and didn’t have a save file that didn’t have the script for that quest be broken as well.

          Sigh, maybe one day someone will hack it or something to fix this bug. :(

        • Dana says:

          The whole structure reeked of MMO. The pack of mobs, the quest hubs (and hub to hub pacing) the fact that doing normal questing I overleveled hard, and by the second big zone I was killing mobs in seconds. The shallow, pretending to be deep class system.

          I actually liked the demo, I liked the game as well, for the first 4-5 hours. Then it killed me with boredom.

        • AraxisHT says:

          I played quite a bit of the game (though I was also late to the party). It didn’t feel anything like an MMO to me. It had many standard elements of the RPG genre, but none of the problems I find with MMOs.

          It had a strong story, strong characters, strong combat, strong visuals, and choices that felt like they mattered enough for me to reload old saves to change my choice. ( I also didn’t encounter many bugs.)

          My favorite part so far was the House Of Ballads questline.

        • Max.I.Candy says:

          I actually agree with Walker on something! The end times are here!
          This is in no way just an MMO without other ppl….thats ridiculous. You could say the same for plenty of other games of the rpg/ hack and slash genre. You’re missing all the good things the game does right, and Skyrim fails at.

        • fooga44 says:

          I’m sorry John but you suck at judging game quality. Amalur’s combat pacing was awful, and the quests were boring as fuck. When you have an action oriented combat system you want to keep the player interested with lots of interesting fast paced combat. Problem was Amalurs combat wasn’t up to snuff and the quests were mostly boring.

          It was just an average to mediocre game all around, if it was made more like God of war where had a smaller set of setpiece levels Amalur could have been good. The problem was they didn’t have the resources to make an open ended game WHILE keeping the pacing of the game going without huge amounts of dead time.

          The combat in amalur got boring quick because it was just too easy and wasn’t very action oriented, you never felt any real tension because of the ‘easy mode’ mmo spaced monsters. I had the same problem with darksiders 2 and how monsters were spaced on the overworld like in an MMO.

          Modern games have unlearned so many gameplay lessons as they’ve dumbed them down for morons with no reflexes.

        • LostInDaJungle says:

          Meh… I bought it and put 10ish hours into it.

          I played the thiefy type, and found that I spent 90% of the time doing the dash move through people. So combat got boring quick.

          And that brings me to the big glaring problem with Amalur… R.A. Salvatore. Seelie Fae, Gwastl Brad, Castle Gastyr, “Ljosalfar” (?!?), etc… A thick helping of unpronounceable words, a skill/crafting/fate system that was overly complex, and a leveling system that guaranteed that you had to grind, but not too much or each area would be either impossible or trivial. Fetch quests that made you spend more time in the overland map than in actual game play.

          A decent overall story that got destroyed by having all of the little side quests. I never felt any sense of urgency, and half the time by the time I had progressed to the next stage of a quest, I had forgotten who was who, and why I should care. It was too big, and as a result didn’t offer a very focused narrative. It was like reading a good book only to stop after every chapter to read a magazine on stamp collecting. Eventually, the stamp collecting got boring enough and the good book lost it’s immersion enough that I started doing something else. (I think it was Sleeping Dogs) Even the side quests had to be kinda done in order due to the leveling system.

      • Reapy says:

        There was a very good after action report on the disaster that was 38 studios. From the article I believe kingdom was supposed to be a mmo, but not realizing the undertaking and money it would take to bear it to fruition it had to go single player first. I also believe the code was so messed up that (maybe I’m thinking of another game though…) they had to outsource it to another company who took the game home and made it reasonably playable, which is why you have an ambitions, but buggy game.

        The end moral of article was you cant be all ‘we’ll make it work *fist pump* YEAH! It’ll work itself out!!!”, probably coming from a guy who is used to working with a set of people that are at the pinnacle of their sport, motivated and pre selected by million dollar scouting and training systems. With those people you probably just do need to motivate them right, and you get a reset every game.

        With a bad start though, no amount of talent and motivation can unfuck a bad design in a reasonable time.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      And yet is was still better than Skyrim, by a huge margin.

      • Outsider says:

        I’ve got over 600 hours in Skyrim and 0 in this. My opinion obviously differs.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Well, obviously.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          I’ve got 200 hours in Skyrim, 25 in this. So yeah, agreed.

        • Fanbuoy says:

          Well, if you haven’t played Amalur, your opinion on it is entirely irrelevant.

        • elevown says:

          LOL- was that meant to be a meaningful argument? I mean, are you realy THAT dumb?

          You do NOT get to have a valid oppinion on something you have, by your own admission, ZERO experience of!

          What you get to say is – I loved skyrim and played it 600hrs- I cant comment on how good Amalur is though, because I’ve never played it!.

          Try engaging your brain, if you’ve got one, before typing next time.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            OK, what about me?

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Right… and the vast majority of gamers who tried Amalur and found it awful?
            Personally both Skyrim and Amalur are about the same to me. Quite empty experiences that seem to lack ‘character’ or “soul.”

      • Premium User Badge

        Morph says:

        Hahaha! Oh wait…. you’re serious.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Yes, I am serious. Anyone who’s familiar with my rambling posts here at RPS knows how much I dislike Skyrim. What’s ironic is that I dislike it for all the reasons people are complaining about KoA:R for. Go figure.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Amular has better combat, actual RPG elements, fewer bugs on release, an actual storyline, decent crafting and does not have one of the worst skill trees in gaming, so yeah, I think he’s being serious.

      • AraxisHT says:

        I like Skyrim, but Kingdoms of Amalur is a much better RPG than Skyrim is. It actually has characters and story and stuff that are more than just exploring (though it has that too).

        • Jason Moyer says:

          That’s interesting because a.) I found Amalur’s lore/people/places/etc to be totally uninteresting alphabet soup and the most generic high fantasy imaginable and b.) Morrowind, of all things, was the game that made me start appreciating quasi-medieval RPG’s for the first time in years (well, that and Arx) mostly because the Elder Scrolls lore was so amazing and weird.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Yeah. I played it for, I don’t know, ten or so hours. There was tons of stuff to find and do, always rewarding me with some bonus here or there (so very addictive then), but everything felt so meaningless and empty. I never cared about the world or the people, and in the end I just stopped playing and haven’t looked back since.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Same here. Put in about 15 hours, never once gave a crap about any of the characters or locations. Around that point I had finally hit a new area that didn’t look the same as everywhere I had been, but I couldn’t deal with it anymore by that point. It was like grinding through an MMO that just happened to have decent, if easy, combat.

  3. RaytraceRat says:

    Fun combat, but the game felt like MMO turned into single player. Huge empty locations, fetch quests everywhere and got very repetitive.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Exactly this – it had gigantic locations but no life to it whatsoever, it felt like a gigantic cardboard cut out with pastiche characters, locations and enemies.

      (p.s. how are you raytrace? :) )

  4. wu wei says:

    I really enjoyed Amalur. Paid full price at launch and never regretted it. The Fae & their life-as-stories was definitely my favourite part.

    However, it has the problem many of these games do in that if you follow too many side-quests, you end up wildly over-levelled and overpowered. Despite many requests from players for better balancing or areas with actual challenge, the first DLC release was the usual “build your own home” crap which seemed more focused on quick-and-easy cash returns than offering something their fans genuinely wanted.

    • CameO73 says:

      Exactly! I had to stop myself from doing too many sidequests, since the combat was getting way too easy (and as a result very boring). Which lead inevitably to me abandoning the game. Maybe I’ll start a new game some day and pick only a couple of sidequests …

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Me too – bought it on release or shortly after because I enjoyed the demo, had a blast with it. Logged 53 hours with it and was disappointed when the studio went under. I really dislike the current trend to dismiss anything which didn’t have a huge marketing campaign as has been cited above as a reason why people didn’t buy it. Aren’t we supposed to be the core gamers, uninterested in the flashy videos and inevitable bad (not) dubstep, but seek out those hidden gems which offer a bit of fun?

      Also not keen on the current trend of such heavy and damning criticism of storylines or fictional worlds. Seems to be the in thing. A bad story hardly ever stops a game being fun.

    • nearly says:

      given the studio’s rapid demise, i’d say the cash-money DLC was an important step, even if not ideal.

    • JakobBloch says:

      I enjoyed it as well. I am pretty sure I explored every out of the way dungeon, house and story and about 2/3 through I was max level, had gear so good I did not get better from… anything (crafting in the game made this possible, a problem a lot of games have -> Skyrim). That however was secondary to the richness of the world and how interesting the different parts were. The different gods, the fateweavers, the elves, the different humans and their views not to mention the enemies. And that is not even counting the fae the story of which is so fantastic it boggles the mind (I draw parallels with the old pen and paper rpg Changeling from WhiteWolf but I don’t know where the ideas came from originally).

      I simply loved the fae. Where elves are somewhat relatable in other games. The fae are inhuman in so many ways. At the start one thinks they are immortal but you find out they are not. They take on the roles of each other and as one passes away to the cycle another takes the place an becomes the role. The dead fae is then reborn as its opposite (summer to winter and back again) to take the role of another fae. They are truly unique to the fantasy genre we see in games.

      UH and the gnomes they are fantastic too. I won’t go into the nitty gritty but let it suffice to say that they have their own place in the world and their society has some of the murkiest and most robust political games ever.

      The combat is an entire area to itself. It is quick, slick and well put together. There are comboes, tricks, builds and change. The combat really makes you feel like a badass no matter what path you choose. Unfortunately it becomes overwhelmed by how easy it ends up being. Only at the very end when the game catches up with your level do you get a bit of a challenge… but only a bit. It is sad really as this game would have offered so much more with a few more difficulty levels. And this is where the game looses out. The structure is there but… it gets boringly easy.

      So in summary: Fantastic world populated with interesting creatures and people and excellent mechanics and great combat. unfortunately gets boring as you outlevel the content and even when you don’t outlevel it, it is too easy.

      • Enkinan says:

        This pretty much nails it on the head for me, though I never quite knew what made me quit playing it. The game really has so much potential, but something is just not there.

  5. Roxton says:

    I did play it, but I stopped very quickly. This is partly because the demo was terrible, and partly because the camera angle was fixed, and pointed slightly downwards while very, very close to the character. I couldn’t see a thing and had no spatial awareness at all. It made me feel almost claustrophobic.

    Here’s a review I wrote at the time which lists my issues in rather more detail.

    http://cogsandink.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/kingdoms-of-amalur-reckoning-demo.html

  6. Nicholas Totton says:

    I bought the game but I gave up a few hours in. I hated the combats repetition, the leveling progression never felt interesting or rewarding to rank up in, the world looked uninteresting, none of the characters or missions I went on or found were of any interest, and I really hated the elf guys. They just screamed boring and generic. The whole thing was a let down as I really enjoyed the intro set up. It was neat. I kept trying to fight through the game in hopes of finding a hook to grab me, but I just couldn’t fight through all the above mentioned to get to it.

  7. Cruyelo says:

    I’m not sure I would say that “no one played/talked about it”. It did sell over a million copies during its first 3 months and a LOT of people did talk about it.
    The studio did close down, but that had more to do with wasting huge amounts of money, not a lack of attention (or sales).

    Personally I tried the game, felt it had some potential, but got bored by the quests. It felt like fast-food RPG.
    Open world, lots of quests, most of it generic.

    Good enough to make me wish the developers could make a new game, one where they actually knew what they wanted to make instead of changing their mind. Not good enough to make me keep going once I saw what the rest of the game would be like.

  8. jealouspirate says:

    I bought it and stopped playing after a few hours. It was all just very bland to me. Magical forests and Elves.

  9. Coriolis says:

    I also played it. Combat more boring then an MMO, far too many pointless side quests. It feels very good initially, but then it gets bad.

    • Magnusm1 says:

      I don’t know where it failed, but it wasn’t the combat.

      • fooga44 says:

        There were subtle aspects of the combat that sucked because of the open world nature of the game. The combat had action oriented game mechanics but did not have action oriented level design, it had mmo monster mobs that just sit until you aggro.

        Also the speed at which combat resolved needed a bit of speeding up, sword swings and movement in combat needed a speed boost otherwise you don’t kill enemies fast enough and it starts to feel grindy because most enemies have no real challenge or attack patterns. It’s just ‘whack-a-mole’.

    • GameCat says:

      You just described Skyrim, you know?

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      combat worse then mmo?….lolwut?. you’re an idiot

  10. Ultra Superior says:

    Um… I genuinely wanted to enjoy that game but… gosh the story was such a shitake

  11. PearlChoco says:

    I loved the game. And I though the lore was really interesting, more than any other game in its genre. And there was a LOT of it,

  12. Premium User Badge

    X_kot says:

    You know, I dearly love Alpha Protocol in spite of its mechanical clunkiness and clumsy ending, so I can appreciate it when someone assumes the mantle of the iconoclast to wrest a flawed pearl from the mouths of swine. The neat story bits weren’t compelling enough for me to endure the oversized areas and dull loot system, but I think it has enough niche appeal to stick around. Can’t say the same for Colonial Marines, eh?

    • Premium User Badge

      Diziet Sma says:

      Oh man, Alpha Protocol was a surprise blast for me. Mechanically iffy at times but such a joy to play with some fantastically OTT story telling.

    • Magnusm1 says:

      Dude. I loved that game.
      Then I played the last level and now I hate that game.

  13. povu says:

    Do you think the state of Rhode Island will put the game on sale at some point?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      GamersGate had it on sale for somewhere around $20 last week, around $28 with the DLC(AmazonUS has also had it on sale a few times). Since it was part of an EA catalog sale, I kept hoping it would drop to about half that, but it didn’t. If John’s gushing had appeared then, I would have bought it. Somehow, the timing seems to encapsulate how things just went side-ways for the game and the developers. Oh, and put me down as to someone who found the demo, well, meh. Plus Curt Shilling(Ayn Rand devotee who railed against Guv’ment’s incompetence in investment in industry, then went on to prove his point), R.A. Salavatore, and Todd McFarlane.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Aha ! I should have known this game was designed by a professional athlete.
        Seriously it reminds me of a bad team trying to buy a pennant by hiring a bunch of washed up used-to-be-great old dudes. …then failing miserably.

  14. Skabooga says:

    Wow, Kingdoms of Amalur is certainly up there on the list of subjects I did not expect to see an article about today on RPS. I love this site!

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Was Thief 4 on that list ?

      Dawn Of War 3 ?

      Is there Generals 2 as well ?

      If so, please remove them from your list. Thank you.

      • Josh W says:

        Then supply your fee for proper expectation management; where would you be without us?

  15. Gargenville says:

    I immediately disregarded it because all the screenshots looked like Fable crossed with WoW.

    Probably massively unfair but you have to filter which of the three million games launching at any given moment to pay attention to somehow, and barring peer pressure it usually comes down to stupid snap judgements like that.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    I found it very generic and repetitive, though the combat was quite effective and full of action.

  17. ZephaniahGrey says:

    Not sure why people were so quick to dismiss this game. The combat was fun, and actually got 10x better as you progressed. The world was vibrant and well crafted, and actually LOOKED appealing, albeit in a candy coated sorta way. It’s like people have been punished by games’ awkward combat and dreary scenery for so long they reject a break from that drudgery like a transplanted organ. It’s like everyone declares “This doesn’t hurt at all! What kinda crap is this! I wanted a GAME!”

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You said it. People here are complaining about Amalur’s story and plot, yet they’re probably the same folks who had no issues with Skyrim’s anemic writing. And the combat is heads and tails better over anything Bethesda could produce.

      That’s the problem, I guess. KoA came out around the same time as Skyrim, so it was doomed to sit at the back of the shelf. KoA is the far superior game IMO — 30 hours for me in Skyrim, over 80 in KoA so far.

  18. Ravenholme says:

    I did buy and play it, and got so very bored so very quickly. It’s a singleplayer MMO with nothing to rescue it, imo.

  19. mehteh says:

    Far too console focus for me to like and get into. The devs lied many times over about they cared about PC, but did nothing. They said a proper FOV wasnt possible, but then a FOV hack comes along soon after its release. I wasnt going to pay $60 to support a bad dev and a console RPG

  20. Optimoos says:

    I’ve sunk way too many hours into this game, and I’m still only about 2/3rds through it. I play it in large chunks, but then end up walking away for a month or two before going back to it. Seeing this article makes me wonder if I can sit down this week and finally finish it out… maybe, maybe not.

    In the end, I feel it’s a divisive experience, lots of things to enjoy, lots of things you won’t. Mostly I think it displays a ton of potential and even though we’re all overly tired of hearing of the 38 Studios demise, this is one of the primary reasons I’m saddened that Project Copernicus is unlikely to see the light of day.

  21. scorpion_wins says:

    Because it’s got that horrible Bloom shine to it that reeks of WoW in 2006. Which invariably means it looks like everything takes place in Princess Fluffy’s Mushroom Kingdom (of Amalur). I’d rather have the Infinity engine than whatever that is.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Scorpion wins yet again !

    • Premium User Badge

      Klingsor says:

      Thanks Sir. Your comment made me laughing out loudly and my colleagues looking suspiciously on me

  22. yabonn says:

    From your description, the story of this game is talented people not being rewarded. Makes me sad.

    Would be less sad if you could point out what, precisely, went wrong.

    (edited for editing)

  23. caddyB says:

    I picked it up at 5 or 10 euros on Origin. Played for two hours or so but the next day I had no drive to play it more. I just lacks that little something that made me play Skyrim for 30 hours before sleeping.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I think a lot of that is because it’s not immersive like Skyrim. Skyrim is like I’m actually in a world and a part of it. Kingdoms of Amular played more like a single player WoW with better combat (which some might think is awesome, I thought it was alright, but the game is pretty huge and I couldn’t justify that big of a time sink, especially since I already had Skyrim).

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Considering there’s nothing immersive about Skyrim that’s a harsh statement.

  24. db1331 says:

    Because it hasn’t hit $5 yet.

  25. Zarunil says:

    Because Skyrim.

  26. Creeping Death says:

    I played it and loved it. In fact I put more hours into it than Skyrim (though that admittedly isn’t that big of a challenge).

    I’ve been meaning to grab the dlc and go back to it at some stage.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Arren says:

    It’s far better than I expected it to be. I got it for $10 in an insane Origin sale* and thoroughly enjoyed the thirty-some hours I spent on it.

    The camera is certainly a drawback. The excessive breadth of the world leads to many sloppy moments where the seams are all too apparent, as it were. The QTE boss battles — which I sheepishly admit didn’t bother me all that much — remain the albatross that they are. Despite all this, the visceral combat was more fun than most any other ARPG I’ve played, and the simplistic leveling system was good enough to keep me entertained. It’s unapologetically gamey compared to the ersatz realism of the Elder Scrolls games**, but that isn’t really to its detriment.

    I can see it being an abysmal game for completionists: as wu wei said, if the player takes it upon themselves to do every sidequest (or even most of ‘em), I don’t doubt it wrecks the progression. Personally, I somewhat enjoyed picking and choosing which digressions to engage in, and thus found the progression enjoyable.

    * Game of Thrones for $10, Arkham City for $10 — yes I know I’m positively the avatar of lameness for not having played AC when it came out.

    ** Which I also enjoy, to make me even more of a laughingstock in this community, I’m sure…..

  28. Snargelfargen says:

    Firstly, the game John describes is very, very different from the impression I got from advertising and previews.
    I was under the impression that the game was completely linear and filled with derivative plot fluff in order to establish a world for the MMO sequel. Maybe I overlooked some details, but when the game fails so badly, I wonder if the studio’s marketing strategy went off message. It seems like most of the press was about the game tying into the MMO. There was hardly any time spent on what made Amalur’s world unique… and so I came to the conclusion that it was entirely generic.

    Secondly, it’s competing in a crowded genre.
    Skyrim, Risen, Two Worlds, Divinity… some of these games were released years apart, but they are all 80+ hour time monsters. They may have their flaws but at least I know what they’re about.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      For all intents and purposes, the game played a lot like a single player MMO. The gameplay was something you could have taken straight out of a full fledged MMO, only the combat was a lot better than just about every MMO out there. Just without the social and multiplayer aspect. Some might love that idea, to me though, it seems like a lot of effort for a world I’ll be finished with and then most likely not return. At least MMO’s keep evolving and add new content/expansions so there’s a reason to keep playing, not to mention the interaction of other players.

      I also read that KoA had around 200 hours worth of game time if you did everything. That’s a pretty colossal game. I just find it hard to justify spending that insane amount of hours on a single player game.

  29. paranoidandroid42 says:

    The thing with Kingdoms of Amalur is that it’s hard to point to any specific part of the game that was executed very poorly–graphically competent, not a lot of bugs, combat tries some new things, etc. It’s kind of mysterious how so many functioning elements add up to a game that’s so god-awful boring to play. A large part of it had to be that the game didn’t ever once attempt anything to inspire me to care about the setting or its inhabitants. They’re just stupid bland cookie-cutter people standing around perpetually in the same spots waiting for you to come by and accept their quests. It completely misses the sense of involvement, that idea of being a person in this world who has his own life and relationships within it that made Skyrim, the game Amalur was so obviously trying to be, so memorable.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I think that’s precisely it. The game was competent in every category, but didn’t excel exceptionally well at any of them. Still a good game and if I had the time to spend on it, I’d easily buy it. But there’s plenty of other games I’d rather play first.

  30. ScubaMonster says:

    I played the demo on Xbox 360 and I didn’t encounter any bugs. Granted, it was the demo, but the demo was basically the full game with like an hour time limit or something (been a while). Maybe the 360 version wasn’t as buggy.

  31. trjp says:

    I bought it and played it a lot – it has many issues which I think are all notable parts of it’s failure

    1 – it crammed every possible mechanic from every RPG you’ve ever played into one game irrespective of whether it was needed or worked – it felt like a hodgepodge or a greatest-hits album – or even a supergroup concept album

    2 – it required a staggering amount of grind – I think you’d level faster in WoW now than you would in this

    3 – the story was deeply forgettable

    4 – there’s tonne of gear and almost all of it is shit (see also Borderlands 1/2) so you feel more like a pack mule than a player

    5 – it has not 1 original idea of it’s own – not a single 1

    That last one is probably it’s biggest failure – it was a massive effort to make something people had already made.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You are literally describing every western RPG that’s come out in the last two decades.

  32. jellydonut says:

    Because it looks like yet another boring fantasy RPG.

  33. Hawks says:

    I tried the demo. I thought the art and humour was flat, and the combat was boring.

    I didnt buy it because it didnt interest me /shrug

  34. Warlokk says:

    I bought it as a change of pace from Skyrim, after I had put about 200 hours or so into my first character. I played it for a good couple weeks, and it was pretty well done and enjoyable… but it got stale eventually and I never finished the main storyline, probably got about 60% or so. I just got bored. It has some good ideas but the MMO-like mechanics just didn’t hold my attention enough to keep going.

    On a related note, I’m still playing Skyrim, and have bought all the DLCs and downloaded a ton of mods. Still not bored.

  35. valczir says:

    I was genuinely interested in this game. I love open world RPGs and wasn’t remotely interested in Skyrim (I completely ignored it after I found out that Bethesda wanted to continue their idiotic level scaling BS – it’s not an RPG if you can’t stumble into a demon when you’re level 1 and get raped in one hit), so I was thoroughly curious about how this game would turn out.

    I gave the demo a shot on PS3 and combat felt boring (like an MMO without people, as other people have said – and I hate how most MMOs control). However, I would still have given it a shot on PC if it weren’t for this: http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=application&iId=13862

    Gold or platinum ratings, I can deal with. Anything below that, I don’t pay money for, because I would probably need to install Windows to run them.

  36. Jack-Dandy says:

    I read it was pathetically easy, and felt really uninspired- almost like a single-player MMO. I avoid that shit like the plague.

    I’ll save my money for better things.

  37. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Indeed, I loved Amalur.

    If anything I enjoyed it more than Skyrim.

  38. elvencode says:

    I played the demo but found it somehow like Torchlight, an ammount of fights and quests with some story and inventory/abilities management but little interesting developments. I also disliked the cartoony style that wanted to mimic WoW, i’d have preferred some more realistic feeling from the graphics (animations included).
    As with Torchlight i bought it anyway at a lower price (20 euro i think) but i need to play it because of free space issues.
    Probably they’d have to make at least the action part more appealing to sell more.

  39. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Downloading demo now. I did before actually, but never got up the motivation to play and then wanted the disc space for something else I still haven’t played. Steam Sales, don’t cha know.

  40. maximiZe says:

    Wait, what? This was an outrageously bland game on so many levels. Also, if you want to feel actually satisfying blocking mechanics, try MGR Revengeance.

    • UnlovedAlien says:

      I would but I simply cannot bring myself to pay full price for a game with “Revengeance” in the title :)

  41. Dark Acre Jack says:

    Judging by the comments it would seem that the answer to the question is “many gamers are cheap & want to swallow 100+ hour experiences in a weekend, & pass judgement on epic behemoth games based on the quality of a limited demo vs. the quality of the creative people who crafted the game itself.”

    I feel sorry for anyone who fits that description. I’m still picking away at the content in Amalur & every time I load it up it enthralls me for just as long as it should before returning me to the real world.

    This was & still is worth far more than 60 dollars, & if sprawling RPGs that have built entire cohesive worlds filled with lore aren’t for you, you know where the door is.

    • dE says:

      Yeah, it doesn’t mack a lick of sense that people, who didn’t like the Demo, don’t buy the full game regardless!

  42. WalkableBuffalo says:

    Always support the underdog!
    This why I bought Frontlines Fuel of War and loved it
    I also bought Rage, but that doesn’t fall into this category
    But really there are lots of good ‘B’ games or games which were pushed aside by big triple A games which are worth your time or at least to have a little fun

  43. Vorphalack says:

    ”Origin” – ”Amalur is riddled by bugs” – ”so many similarities with a game like World Of Warcraft” – ”the wayward mouse” – ”the RPG side of things is watered down”

    I mean, I could keep going with this, but i’m sure you can tell that you’ve answered your own question within the article.

    • John Walker says:

      Er, you realise one of those was from a line saying a thing it *doesn’t* do, right?

      • Vorphalack says:

        I didn’t realise i’d quoted out of context there (i’m ill and it’s all a bit blurry so I skim read some bits), but in my opinion the point about the RPG elements is valid. From the youtube coverage I got to see I can’t say I was impressed with the writing quality, voice acting, lore or setting. If you want to defend that angle then we will have to agree to disagree, but anyway, the other 4 points still stand.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Combat designed for controller, funky camera angles, really awful inventory handling, and so on. Those three are enough for me to chuck the game right there. All pretty evident from the demo as well. If I could change or mod those things away, it would be a different story.

      I don’t put up with bad interface any more, no matter what wonders you may be trying to deliver.

  44. Larington says:

    Recently I caught myself whistling a theme. It took me a moment, but then I remembered, it was from this game. Sadly I found myself drifting away from further playtime after getting to the other side of a wide river and didn’t really go back. The mistake was trying to be a completist and do all the sidequests. Save file will be dead too I think.

    However, I did thoroughly enjoy my time with it, regardless of whether the hype machine or poor demo versions might try to say otherwise or not.

  45. dozier77 says:

    This has been on my Steam wishlist for quite a while. About half an hour ago I cleaned up my wishlist and deleted this game. Then I came over to RPS and see this article. Game is back on the wishlist. But I promise you this, Steam, I will not pay $60 for it!

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You can buy it from other retailers, you know. Unless you absolutely just need to see it in your Steam library, in which case you’re boned.

      • MacTheGeek says:

        Unfortunately, this is a case where “non-Steam” can only mean “Origin”. A third option would be nice.

  46. DK says:

    Amalur had the big problem of being a little too big for it’s own good. More depth instead of just more content, especially in the combat system, would have been a huge boon. Cutting the number of filler quests in half would also help, because there’s just too much stuff that ultimately ends up being samey to do in every “hub”.

    It effectively has the grind and size of an MMO, but no multiplayer component, so what’s the size and grind there for?

    Despite that it’s one of the best RPGs of the 21st Century – and with an original (for video games at least) setting to boot.

  47. Saarlaender39 says:

    Well, I didn’t play it, because -somehow- I had the impression, it was just another MMO – a genre, in which I’m just not interested.

    Can’t really say, how I came to this conclusion, but after it was made, I didn’t read anything related to the game…until now (and even now only out of boredom, tbh).

    And reading the comments so far has not really strenghtend my wish to buy and play it.

  48. Xardas Kane says:

    Yeah, John, but no. The world didn’t have any depth, the writing was subpar, the quests – generic, and the world as derivative as they get. It was a fun action RPG, but you make it out to be a marvelous hidden gem, the Fable that Molyneux promised and never delivered.

    But it wasn’t. A fun game, sure, but nothing much.

  49. derbefrier says:

    been waiting for this game to go on sale. A friends of mine played it on the console box and he loved it, but then again he bought it at a pawnshop for 5 bucks and i have never seen it that cheap yet for PC, not saying i wouldnt pay more than 5 but I am not paying full price on something I am not 100% sure i will enjoy.

  50. gschmidl says:

    Pretty sure EA will never, ever discount it on Steam. Why would they? They’ve got Origin (where it’s cheap and often on sale for cheaper).

    Bought it on launch day, didn’t regret. Got me back into gaming after a long period of not caring, actually.