Wot I Think: Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning

There's a lot of this.
Having poured many fevered hours into the release version of Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning I can now ask you not to judge it entirely on its weak, wonky demo. Have a read of my review, and then mix the two experiences together to create a potion of critical insight +3.

Here’s wot I think.

There are familiar tensions at work in the heart of Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning. These contrary directions the sort of thing that reveal the truth about what this game is trying to be. On the one hand it is a huge, (relatively) open world, with conversation trees and side quests spilling all over you like the eye-guts from a ruptured beholder – but on the other it is a constant free-fall in one direction: to the end of the plot. It is a saccharine kitsch pastel fantasy world of faeries and sunbeams, but also M-M-MONSTER KILL power up evisceration of a ferocity that would make God Of War suck air in through its teeth. Kingdoms Of Amalur wants to be everything.

Like a quest-dispensing NPC standing by the side of Amalur’s many roads, I am going to have to engage in an explanatory preamble that attempts to provide some context for the existence of this game. In some ways it’s an unusual event: a new RPG world that is going for the full platter of features, and on the other it’s exactly the sort of RPG project you’d expect from a large publisher like Electronic Arts. In truth the Kingdoms of Amalur project is the progeny of a sort action-RPG super-group, with a millionaire backer, and a gang of game development stars from fantasy projects across various media.

The developer at the heart of the venture, 38 Studios, is the personal project of famed (and conveniently wealthy) baseball player Curt Schilling, who has long had a soft-spot for the Everquests, World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and even Shadowbane. It’s hard to say quite how much influence he has had over Reckoning itself, but the MMO fraternity’s influence is certainly strong on Amalur’s world, systems, and overall execution. There’s a family likeness here that it’s impossible not to notice.

Also at the vanguard of this expedition into the well-known are Ken Rolston, a high-level game designer gentleman who worked on Morrowind and Oblivion; RA Salvatore, who writes endless novelisations of all kinds of fantasy and sci-fi worlds; and the dude who invented Spawn… Todd McFarlane. That’s the fellow.

Together they would make a world.

A world. Yes. Perhaps not the most interesting world a supergroup of such sparkling pedigree could have conjured. Amalur is likeable, no doubt about that. But much of its charm comes from the sheer weight of content and generalised prettiness that it is able to unload on you. The creature designs are often beautifully animated and lovely to see in action, while the palette of customsation is as broad as any I can think of. Nevertheless the game is a deliberate soup of the forests, valleys, glades, canyons, caves, villages, monsters, and more forests that have underscored the existence of the past decade of fantasy games of all kinds.

There’s chunks of Fable in here mixed with Guild Wars, and that’s been marinaded in elements of various console combat games. There’s a tiny whiff of Darksiders and several Bioware games have been grated over the top. It’s even being served in the same sort of bowls that Bethesda use. (They’re so fashionable.) The key ingredient, however, and the one that overpowers the other flavours, is the industry-bestriding garlic of World Of Warcraft.

On all sorts of levels the feel of Amalur is of an MMO with all those pesky massively multiplayer annoyances carefully erased. “Why, that’s just a fancy excuse for a Diablo-like game, Mr Rossignol,” you rightly correct, but the truth is that this feels like the Ouroboros worm of genre pollination: we’ve come full circle and taking online game models offline again. Influences are being recycled and game design is eating itself. The success of MMOs have fed directly into the decisions made about how to make this big, bold single-player RPG project. Its influence can be felt in everything from the way loot drops to the way the art is designed.

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with Amalur’s approach to fantasy-RPG creation. Millions of people will find pleasure here. I can’t fault the production gloss or the sheer amount of things that the developers have crammed into it. (Although the menu UI is a bit crude and clunky, really surprisingly so.) Some of the key elements of the action RPG are also ripe unto bursting: Amalur is overflowing with treasures.

The little sparkles that come off almost everything interactive in the world are signposts for an endless supply of greaves, pauldrons, longswords, potions, and ingredients to make all of those things. That alone will ensure the game mesmerises many, and I have to admit the hypnotic tendrils of the shiny-armour-treadmill locked me down pretty quickly. The crafting – which is extensive in several directions – allows you to gather and collect and then fashion items and potions in that sort of near-unlimited distraction-based way that the popular MMOs manage to do.

The constant flow of sidequests, too, make for a MMO-like cascade of possible actions. While you are being dragged relentlessly towards the end of the game as if it were a quicksand grave in a 1960s action movie, the possibilities for going off and stabbing people in secluded glades are extraordinarily diverse. Remain undistracted and I suspect you can power through to the finishing line fairly quickly, but – as with The Elder Scrolls games – that would be missing the point. This, like Bethesda’s RPGs, is all about wandering off the path for a bit. You have to come back eventually, but while you’re poking about in bushes you’ll join a brotherhood of warriors, buy a house, and probably rescue some young lover from being turned inside out by ogres. Five hundred favours for strangers will take place before lunchtime, then it’s back to the real business of being The Chosen One. Yes, sir. You know the drill. And it’s time to level up.

Where the game does not feel like an MMO is in its combat, and in its huge amount of dialogue. The combat is fast, silly, and rewarding. I like it because it’s videogamey and ludicrous, and a sort of antidote to some much else that I have played in the past few years. It takes much more from the modern hack ‘n slash genre – I’m thinking of games like Darksiders and God Of War – it feels more like a beat ’em up of old than even the most action-led RPG of current times. You leap and roll about, performing a blaze of combos on your enemies, even charging up a sort of rage metre to perform outlandish and grisly slow-motion finishing moves on your enemies. This is occasionally highly incongruous, with your armoured warrior (assuming you are not a robed wizard) grabbing a malicious faerie from the air and stabbing it repeatedly in the neck with laser-knives, complete with fountains of blood as your eyes blaze with plot-consequential magicks. Gosh.

You’ve got quite a bit of variety at your disposal, too – you can equip two different weapons and an shield to use all that the same time (you can block in real-time) – and the character customisation is wide open for much of the game – that whole “destiny” system they’ve spent the past year baning on about.

Combat can be stealthy, ranged, bloodily melee-based, or heavy on mystical fire, with you generally opting for a combination somewhere in the middle of that healthy paunch of character development. It’s all beautifully arranged and choreographed, and it’s completely glizty videogame escapism. The Witcher 2 and Skyrim feel like grimy, gritty real-world horrors by comparison.

The conversation and dialogue, which is Bioware-y in its delivery and draws on both elements of Bioware and Bethesda’s games in its execution, tries to deliver a small library of options for finding out more information, or for getting different responses from the people you are talking to. Conversation is tied to skills, and you can get better at persuasion and so on as you play. All this stuff is definitely important to Amalur, and as much as I’ve banged on about the combat and action elements of this game, I can’t fault it for trying to rival its peers in terms of the sheer volume of voice-acted scenes and side-quests. What I couldn’t really discern in it, however, was much measure of change in the world, aside from events which are purely pre-scripted and already set up to happen. You don’t really seem to have much influence. After the mighty plot-ramifications of player actions in the likes of The Witcher 2, that makes they story here seem a little inanimate.

I think it’s important, at this final-third-of-review stage in the proceedings, to point out that I’ve found Amalur surprisingly compelling. It’s a sugary, guilty sort of compulsion, though, because Amalur’s formula is one that has ultimately entangled the part of me that wants to see the next pleasing monster design, or the next level of magic powers. The delightful contrast of stabbing someone with razor-fast daggers versus clubbing them to death with a half-tonne battle-hammer is good too, but what it does not offer is anything with serious meat. No grand vision, no technical triumph, no opera.

Despite the open structure, it’s not really providing much for the digital explorer or the mystery-hungry reader. There is no pretension to a true sandbox, let alone any kind of living world. From a purely aesthetic point of view, the series of enclosed valleys it is guiding me through display none of the majesty of Skyrim’s frozen peaks, while the quests and over-arching script interest me a fraction as much as almost any other seriously conversation-heavy RPG I can think of. The overall visual fidelity often disappoints, too: after The Witcher 2’s artfulness, the dead-eyed (but still enormously friendly and characterful) mannequins of Amalur do not impress my inner graphics-card purchaser.

Ultimately, Kingdoms Of Amalur is generous but uninspired. This is a game that has been carved out of the bedrock of action RPGs by a team of well-paid professionals. Their work is fine, even nuanced, but their vision is not one that will leave you feel enriched or changed by the experience it produced. You can sense of the results of committee conclusions in almost all areas of the game.

Perhaps the worst part is that the core conceit of the Amalur’s plot – that you are the one person in this world you can truly decide his own fate and therefore change the fate of others – is an interesting idea (even an interesting meta-comment on RPGs generally) that is dropped into an abyss of trad fantasy wibbling. The immutable weight of that stuff soon smothers any clever intention that the story might have held. Kingdoms Of Amalur’s story is dramatic and spectacular in places, but it scarcely matters. I have no real stake in what is going on, and I don’t really care. I’m just happy that my character has a huge moustache and a giant hammer. He’s going to smite the living shit out of that ettin over there. And that’s probably enough.

Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning is out now in the US, and out tomorrow in the EU.


  1. Maxheadroom says:

    While it’s not the game changer the IGN review made it out to be it’s alright i suppose. I did struggle to make it to the end of the demo to unlock the pew pew in ME3 which isnt a good sign, but i was still interested in it enough to read this (and other reviews).

    Probably pick it up in a sale at some point

  2. Lars Westergren says:

    Enough people have said it is fun to play that I will buy this on release day. Sounds like it won’t be something I’ll look back fondly upon in many years hence, but I think EA deserve a sale for daring to invest a lot of money in a big new RPG. I hope the make a tidy profit so they will finance more like this (and hopefully even better in the future).

    • sneetch says:

      I’m right there with you Lars I’ll snap it up tomorrow. I loved the demo, something about it was very compelling for me and I can’t wait for more.

    • Jesse L says:

      For some time I’ve been wanting more game in my games, and this game has lots of game in it. That’s what I like about it. Also, it’s charming. I don’t always want to be bothered with a lot of consequence and world-building. Some talking, some looting, and lots of fun smashing/blasting/hyper-speed double-knifing… Yes, yes, yes!

      ‘Unoriginal’ is just not a complaint that registers for me. I like fantasy soup, just as long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

  3. Belsameth says:

    Tried the “Demo” for a bit, and imidiatly purchased it.
    While it certainly lacks any sort of “depth” (tho I must say some of the stories are really well done, like the House of Ballads questline)
    It more then makes up for it in pure fun and freedom of how you build your character.
    Not only is it possible to be a jack of all trades, you’re actually rewarded for it!

    Overall, despite the genericness, I can’t recommend it enough!

  4. Teronfel says:

    Best combat system i’ve seen in an action rpg.

    • mondomau says:

      So, never played Fable then? :)

    • nrvsNRG says:

      yeah similar feel to Fable, but the combat goes further with the amount of abilities and customising you can do, also you can re spend your points at any point in the game to try out different specs.

    • Belsameth says:

      It’s clearly superiour to Fable, combat wise (and yes, I *love* all things Fable).

    • nrvsNRG says:

      me too> I loved Fable to bits,this gets all those fable loving receptors in my brain buzzing away happily.

    • Tuco says:

      @teronfel @mondomau: It’s funny because they’re both actually terrible and easily surpassed by plenty of other games.

    • Teronfel says:

      It’s way better than Fable.
      @Tuco Why do you say that?Which action rpgs have better combat?I don’t consider Witcher 2 or Risen as action rpgs if you mean them.
      Reckoning is closer to games like Diablo or even DMC.

    • Wizardry says:

      Why aren’t The Witcher 2 and Risen action RPGs?

    • Teronfel says:

      Because the rpg part is the most important and they just happen to have real time action battle system.
      But this conversation about what is/isn’t rpg/arpg is pointless.

    • Wizardry says:

      How is it pointless when you’ve just said: “Best combat system i’ve seen in an action rpg.”? When you’re excluding a whole bunch of action RPGs it makes this entire comment thread pointless.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well the Darksiders and Souls games come to mind.

    • Teronfel says:

      @Wizardry Well then i guess the only rpgs i played the last 5 years are Dragon Age Origins and Drakensang…

    • Danarchist says:

      I had a buddy tell me this was like “Dark Souls for care bears!”. Myself I enjoyed the hell out of it. I do also believe it is the best actual fighting I have done in an RPG. The other factors such as character models honestly did not detract at all for me, in fact at lvl 9 now my “battle mage” looks much cooler than my lvl 45 dragon armor wearing skyrim character. The art is…well remember the first time you played wow and thought the cartoony stuff was gonna make your eyes bleed, then 2 months later you can’t remember what you liked better? same thing.
      All told this is the best use of $59 bucks (US) I have had so far this year. I find more and more often that there are two types of gamers that hang out on forums. The hardcore gamer who has iron hard expectations that every game must exceed the last one by x% or it sucks, and the old guys sitting at work looking for something new and interesting to do while their girlfriend/wife watches Glee. I am in group B.

    • CptPlanet says:

      Best combat in an action RPG is found in Dark Souls but I guess not many people played it here. I’d say the combat in KoA is good, even as good as Witcher 2 but the camera in the demo was bit hit and miss. Hope it’s not there in the release.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I played the demo and tried hard to like the combat system, because that’s one of the main things that keeps me from playing more Skyrim than I do — the melee combat sucks (ranged and magic isn’t as bad). Unfortunately it reminded me of all the cartoon-combat changes Dragon Age made, going from version 1 to 2, with my Rogue suddenly making ridiculous leaps in the air, doing a rush-teleport to appear behind the enemy for a backstab, etc.

      I can see where some folks might find this fun, but things like pulling a shield out of your ass and then stuffing it back there… I just couldn’t see that without falling out of my chair laughing. If the WItcher is an Action RPG then I guess it’s more my style. Still silly at times, with all that rolling around on the ground, but at least moderately believable.

      Also after 2 years in WoW, this art style was just not something I needed to see again.


    • RandomGameR says:

      So if I hated everything that Fable 2 was about (from top to bottom) is this game still at all worth it?

    • nrvsNRG says:

      “So if I hated everything that Fable 2 was about (from top to bottom) is this game still at all worth it? ”

      …well i loved Fable but i hated Fable 2 and sort of hated 3, but i really like KoA:R, so its not worth totally ignoring.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      I’ve never seen anything that beats Dark Messiah’s melee combat.

    • Dragon Master says:

      What MellowKrogoth said. A lot of rpg’s should learn from Dark Messiah, in more ways than one.

  5. Echo Black says:

    I didn’t like the demo at all. This WIT settles it: I’ll pass it.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      My demo experience consisted of me trying to work out why all I saw was a black screen and a HUD, I gave up and played something else soon after :)

    • apocraphyn says:

      First time around with the demo, I found that the PC controls were somewhat floaty and unresponsive. Second time around, I plugged in a PS3 controller – and my god, it felt like a different game! It really does feel like “Fable Done Right”.

      …though my second playthrough of the demo may have been assisted by the fact that I just ran through the tutorial section with a character that looked like something akin to a mustachioed elven Freddie Mercury, and then proceeded to murder everyone in the first village, salvaging all the equipment I had harvested off of the innocent villagers’ dead bodies and forging myself superior equipment at the nearest local crafting station. Fun times!

    • abremms says:

      they made a big mistake releasing that demo. It was buggy and of a part of the game that isn’t at all representative of the larger experience. I’v been playing the game for a couple days now (something like ten hours in) and its good fun. I haven’t run into a single noticible bug.

      Like the WIT said, If you are looking for narrative depth, or immersive storytelling, look elsewhere. But if you want to have some good fun busting up monsters through some pretty great combat mechanics, then Amalur doesn’t dissapoint.

    • Gnoupi says:

      @EL_muerko – if you want to try more of the demo, go to options and cut post processing. That did it for me, I had the same problem as you.

    • Hanban says:

      Didn’t fancy the demo either. I think primarily my issue is with the art direction though. Can’t bear it!

  6. AmateurScience says:

    Great review. From what I’ve played (just the demo) I really picked up that WoW vibe too.

    This is on the ‘games I will almost certainly own at some point but can’t find a justification for owning just at the moment thank you very much’ list

    • derbefrier says:

      i concur
      i still got so many games in my library i need to play and havent touched (SPAZ, STALKER:SOC, Risen, just to name a few) i cant really justify paying full price since by the time i am really ready to put some hours in it it will most likely be on sale by then. Plus i am still playing TOR and i at least got another couple weeks before i get bored with it so sooner or later(probably later) i will get to this game

  7. Kernkraftritter says:

    Just played the demo:
    – Combat is really fun. A Sword AND a fireball-machine-gun-staff at the same time? Awesome!
    – Looks good in it’s ridiculous comic style.
    – Voice acting and writing (as far as one can deduce from 45 minutes of play) are fine. Nothing outstanding, but quality nonetheless.

    BUT: The World of Amalur feels pretty dead. You really don’t get that feeling of freedom that comes with open world games, there are no “fascinating” characters, there’s no Bioware-grade attention to detail, and the backstory really isn’t explained at all, and whatever appeal it’s only aberration from “Generic fantasy MMORPG setting” – the two courts of elves – might have had is lost to me.

    A decent RPG, but nothing I’d ask my friends to buy.

    • Belsameth says:

      It’s not actually an open world game, it just masks itself as one. It’s more an MMOlike world with carefull, levelbased zones/hubs. Traveling too far gets you killed while playing in earlier zones is a snorefest.

      Once the game picks up steam the story gets better and the backstory starts filling in as well. It does take a bit of time to get there tho, and the starter town is even more generic then the rest, and certainly not a good showing for the story.

    • phylum sinter says:

      The demo, while yes it does show a bit of the actual map, shows the crappiest part of it. I took the gamble and preordered (at a discount through amazon) and am very happy to say that the initial area barely scratches the surface, both in overall liveliness of the world and variety of its’ denizens.

      The comparisons to fable are there, as are the God of War nods. The combat is not all twitch, with an element of strategy.

      Overall this WIT is on point. I hope it’s the beginning of a new series.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      “Overall this WIT is on point. I hope it’s the beginning of a new series. ”

      Me too.
      After the first Fable things got worse in its sequels. If KoA continues the series it will fill that gap nicely for this type of game (As long as it doesnt go into candy/kiddy territory too much).
      Its amazingly polished for a new I.P though.

  8. mmalove says:

    It looks interesting enough, I just recently finished darksiders (don’t judge me), and still have a hunger for that action rpg style combat. The demo snagged loading an area which left a bad taste in my mouth, but seeing as I haven’t heard much if anything of this being buggy, that’s promising.

    I didn’t quite follow why you state it’s part MMO. The sidequests? RPGs have been doing that since before WarCrack. “The way loot drops”? As someone who hasn’t played the game yet (and therefore is reading your review): you’ll have to be more specific.

    • mmalove says:

      K so not to plug, but I just found some streaming on this site: link to twitch.tv , and I think I now better understand the wow vibe what with the color coded loot drops.

    • mmalove says:

      Wee self thread inflation!

      Wanted to tag on one other bit in response to some of the comments I saw similar…
      When I started the demo all I had was a black screen. There were voices talking about bringing a body down to whereever, so I figured it must have been a narrative tool. When I gained control of my character I could see me moving on the minimap and still the screen was black, I was still not entirely convinced it wasn’t a sort of “you just woke up in a pitch black room” device.

      Well, it’s not. Go into the video options and disable “post processing”. I don’t know what that is, but apparently my Radeon 6800 couldn’t handle it. Turned off the setting and was treated to a very delightful action RPG. Though now I’m kind of disappointed they didn’t opt for an audio only beginning, speaking from experience, it added a certain mystery to that whole “fateless one” theme.

  9. magicalpancake says:

    As long as there’s lots of hack and slashing im okay w/ that.

    • phylum sinter says:

      lots of that, with actually good loot drops as you progress. Crafting is done really well – it looks basic but is deceptively deep.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      your right, the alchemy, smithing and sagecraft (enchanting), is done just right imo.

  10. Subatomic says:

    Good review. Whether you’ll like Amalur or not likely depends on what you are looking for. Those looking for a deep, complex RPG will probably hate it.
    Those who are in more for the really fun slicing, stabbing, burning and electrocuting and can live with an interesting, but ultimately fairly uninspired story and world will get their money’s worth.

    • Warlokk says:

      Agreed… I just picked it up on an impulse, and so far it seems pretty decent. I’ve played through Skyrim several times, and am waiting for the new batch of fancy mods to drop now that the Creation Kit is out, and this is a nice hacky-slashy diversion in the meantime. It’s such a radical departure from the majestic epicness of Skyrim (I have like 375 hours in), and is a nice change of pace. I won’t say it could replace Skyrim or Witcher 2 or anything, but it sits alongside just fine for a little something different… like RPG candy, rather than the full RPG 7-course meal.

    • Wizardry says:

      RPG candy like The Witcher 2 and Skyrim?

    • phylum sinter says:

      @Wizardry no, he’s saying Amalur is the RPG candy. The Witcher and Skyrim are the 7 course meals.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      skyrim and witcher2 were also candy rpg’s (just heavily disguised ones)

    • Unaco says:

      Skyrim and The Witcher 2 were not candy RPG’s.

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      In fact, Skyrim is not an RPG at all.

    • Jeremy says:

      Uh oh…

    • Wizardry says:

      Where’s the popcorn?

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      Oh, it’s in this pile of RPG games. Let’s see here.

      Jagged Alliance 2…

      There we go.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      I second Una(t)co.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      skyrim is a first person hack and slash without any proper hack and slash mechanics and witcher 2 is a hack and slash with an interesting narrative.
      baldurs gate is an rpg.

    • Unaco says:

      No… You’re wrong. Skyrim is an RPG. The Witcher 2 is an RPG.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      because you get to dress up your character and choose his abilities?

    • Felixader says:

      Hehehehe i love some of threads here. :-P

    • Unaco says:

      No. Because you play a role, surprisingly. The player character is designed by the player, and they progress in their skills/attributes/abilities. That’s the simplest and most straightforward reason… there are others.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      In Dawn of War 2 i play a role, pick a squad, gain XP, level up my skill/attributes/abilities and get loot. Also the outcome of a fight isnt too dependant on my ability with a gamepad or keyboard and mouse.

      In Witcher 2 (which i love btw), my ability with KB+M or my pad is more important then the abilities ive picked Geralt to have. Does this mean DoW2 is more of an RPG then Witcher2?

    • Unaco says:

      I wouldn’t think so. DoW 2 is an RTS/RTT game, with RPG elements included. The Witcher 2 is an RPG with action oriented combat.

    • Vinraith says:

      In Super Mario Brothers I play the role of Mario, so clearly it’s an RPG.

      The acronym has been “reimagined” into meaninglessness, at this point. Anything that would have historically been called an RPG basically isn’t made anymore, and “RPG” basically doesn’t mean anything anymore.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      but you’re not playing a role if your skill and input is more important then your character abilities.

      (and i think DoW2 is more of an action/rpg then rts with rpg elements)

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Games are fun. This argument isn’t.

    • Wizardry says:

      It’s kind of cute that this argument is taking place and I’m not really part of it.

      Seriously though. An RPG is pretty simple to describe. You create a character by defining their strengths and weaknesses. You then play a game where your character’s strengths and weaknesses are tested constantly, with the player being relegated to the role of decision maker. It’s that simple.

    • Unaco says:


      By that definition, would Galciv 2 or a similar Civilisation game be an RPG? In that, you create a Civilisation, define its Strengths and Weaknesses… which are then tested, and the player is a decision maker. Also… Do Strengths/Weaknesses have to be defined at the beginning of the game? Or can they be developed over time? Can they evolve, and change? Or do all Strengths/Weaknesses have to be defined at the start and cannot change? What about games that use ‘stock’ characters, so you can’t, at the start, do much defining of Strengths/Weaknesses… perhaps picking from 4 or 5 different base characters, and Strengths/Weaknesses are defined as you play? How much control do you have to have over the Strengths/Weaknesses? Also, how do you ‘define’ Strengths/Weaknesses? By clicking them on a list, or would you allow for a system whereby skills are improved as they are used, and deteriorate as they are neglected?

      I can see there being a lot of problems with your definition Wizardry, and I don’t think it is that simple.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      …or important.

    • Wizardry says:

      By that definition, would Galciv 2 or a similar Civilisation game be an RPG? In that, you create a Civilisation, define its Strengths and Weaknesses… which are then tested, and the player is a decision maker.

      No, because you aren’t defining a character. You’re defining a team, race, civilization. Plus, the difficulty of the game is countering an AI, like in all strategy and tactics games, rather than deciding what your character would do when opposing another bag of statistics (an opposition).

      Basically, in an RPG the AI is equivalent to the player. You control your bag of statistics (your character) and they control their bags of statistics (enemy characters). Role-playing games aren’t about making decisions based on your opposition (the AI). They’re about making decisions for your character based on their opponents (the enemy characters). If your fighter comes up against an ogre then you should be making decisions based on your character’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the ogre’s strengths and weaknesses. In other words, what would your character do when facing an ogre. You shouldn’t make decisions for your character based on the AI. When the game’s chief difficulty is exploiting the AI then you aren’t really role-playing any more – you are playing a tactics/strategy game.

      Also… Do Strengths/Weaknesses have to be defined at the beginning of the game? Or can they be developed over time? Can they evolve, and change? Or do all Strengths/Weaknesses have to be defined at the start and cannot change?

      I don’t think this matters really. They all probably count. You can have an RPG where you start off the same as everyone else, technically. You can also have an RPG with just character creation and no levelling up at all.

      What about games that use ‘stock’ characters, so you can’t, at the start, do much defining of Strengths/Weaknesses… perhaps picking from 4 or 5 different base characters, and Strengths/Weaknesses are defined as you play?

      It depends what you mean by stock character. If you mean picking between a few classes then that’s okay, especially if you can define them further through play. If, however, you are choosing between a few fully described characters with their own name, voice, gender, dialogue and everything then you basically have a slightly better version of The Witcher, a game that isn’t an RPG for the same reason.

      How much control do you have to have over the Strengths/Weaknesses? Also, how do you ‘define’ Strengths/Weaknesses? By clicking them on a list, or would you allow for a system whereby skills are improved as they are used, and deteriorate as they are neglected?

      Both work, though deterioration in a use-based system is extremely rare. You don’t even need a numerical system. You could even just pick traits out of a list of traits. It’s just that because computers are better at number crunching we’ve tended to go with numerical systems.

      I can see there being a lot of problems with your definition Wizardry, and I don’t think it is that simple.

      It’s a simplified version of my forum post.

    • rargphlam says:

      Wizardry, by your metrics, Skyrim, The Witcher 2, and even Reckoning fulfill the definition to be an RPG; albeit simpler ones to the RPGs of yore. They all have player input into a bag of statistics, most often in the way you describe as simply, via traits. They all alter your play style in such a way that a character has unique strengths and weaknesses, and that changes how you, as a player, approach different enemies, which again act in such ways to have various strengths and weaknesses.

      They just also have player skill systems to various degrees integrated, which if you don’t consider that to be a ‘pure’ RPG let us just call them Action RPGs and call it a day.

    • Wizardry says:

      Well, those games break the idea I mentioned in that the player’s role should be demoted to that of pure decision maker. Hence the addition of the action label. If the player has to do at least some of the reflex based actions that the statistics partially represent then, not only is the player the decision maker, he/she is also partially the character. It’s the divide between the role of the player and the role of the character that defines the genre.

    • JackShandy says:

      If you let The Witcher 2 be an RPG then you have to let Modern Warfare’s multiplayer in. For this reason, I’ll stick to calling it a choose-your-own adventure game.

    • Gira says:

      Naturally, Wizardry is 100% correct. I’m not sure why people find this so difficult to understand, but Vinraith pretty much nailed it, too – the term “RPG” has been diluted into utter meaninglessness. Openworld action games with rudimentary stat systems like Skyrim are now considered “hardcore RPGs,” which is pretty hilarious. Has no one ever considered that action games can have dialogue trees, too?

      Fact is, whichever way you slice it, when Wizardry talks about “RPGs,” he isn’t talking about Skyrim, or The Witcher 2, or Kingdoms of Amalur. These games share absolutely no commonality, on a gameplay level, with the genre of videogames to which the term “RPG” was once applied. They are not an “evolution” or a “progression” or even a “regression”.

    • pertusaria says:

      Am I weird for enjoying this episode of the “What is an RPG?” sitcom?

      I largely agree with Vinraith – when Bastion can be confused with an RPG, the label is widely misunderstood and in danger of being useless.

      I’m going to scrape together the 12 euro needed to buy Driftmoon instead of this expensive fantasy soup. It may not take as long to play through, and the combat probably isn’t as meaty judging from the demo, but it seems to have more RPG-like qualities and fewer tired MMORPG tropes.

  11. felisc says:

    is this game more of a keyboard or gamepad game ? I’m asking because of the godofwar-esque aspect in the combat.

    • abremms says:

      I’v been quite enjoying playing with a KB&M, not run into any problems. controls feel good and work well.

      I haven’t tried it with a gamepad, so i suppose that could be better, not sure.

    • sneetch says:

      I only played with the mouse and keyboard for a few minutes before switching to a 360 gamepad, the mouse and keyboard seemed fine, very responsive and all but I prefer gamepad for this kind of third person stuff.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      using the 360 pad and everything flows super quickly, once you get used to it (navigating menus, fighting and such)

    • Lobotomist says:

      This is exactly what is tearing me apart :[

      Its clearly made for gamepad. And I have no problem with that. I actually looked forward to that.
      But I can not live without freedom to move camera view like with mouse. Moving it with thumb-stick is awfully slow for someone accustomed on mouse :(

      On flipside , keyboard is less perfect. And actually makes combat gameplay flow differently :S
      But you can move camera and enjoy the view better …

      I am really split. And cant decide how to play it :S

      Help !

    • polyester says:

      Forgot where I heard or read this, but supposedly this game caters more towards the gamepad, which makes sense, being all actiony and all, but I guess it’s up to what doesn’t push you to throw something at your monitor.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      i know what you mean, the camera doesnt respond quick enough with the pad, but the good thing is that during those times when the camera isnt in the right place in combat you can continue firing off moves even if you cant see what your hitting (auto target) so its really not so bad and you get used to it, so i would say definately 360 pad is the way to go.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Yes, but i kind of like watching the scenery when i play. And looking around with thumbstick – i am just not used to it (as PC player)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I was fine with mouse/keyboard, but I was also comfortable playing it with a pad. So…

  12. NothingFunny says:

    What about the horrible interface, one of the worst inventory\items screens ever?

    • nrvsNRG says:

      no problem with it at all so dont know what you mean.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I mentioned that where I mentioned it in the review. Do read it!

    • Kdansky says:

      Our standards since Skyrim have been pretty low. This one is usable, while bad, instead of an abomination.

    • sneetch says:


      Can you please mention in the review where in the review you mention it in the review where in the review you mention it in the review where in the review you mention it in the review where in the review you mention it in the review where in the review you mention it in the review where in the review you mention it in the review…
      *ERROR StackOverflowException please press any key to reboot internet.*

    • Belsameth says:


      Bah! You youngsters and your newfangled ideas of actually reading before you reply! Humbug!

      Also, while far from perfect, I just thought of Skyrim every time I felt like complaining. Suddenly it was the best inventory in the world :p

      What helps is that, when looting, you can press 1 to loot an item, 2 to compare, and 3 to move to junk. Saves a lot of inventory juggling.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Oh, you mean that amazing interface that’s responsive, informative, and unpretentious?

      Yeah, I know it.

      Of course, I seem to be one of the few people on RPS who CANNOT STAND click-and-drag interfaces, so perhaps I’m just crazy.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      Aesthetically I think the interface is ugly, but it is exceptionally usable when playing with a gamepad or using the proper keyboard hotkeys (per the above post.) For a Diablo-esque game like this, I love being able to quickly “junk” everything I intend on selling later. I only very rarely actually need to delve into the inventory screen since I can do so much item management from the loot window. My strategy is:

      1.) Equip any immediate upgrade (can be done from the “loot items” screen.
      2.) “Take” any items I want to break down for crafting purposes.
      3.) “Junk” anything that I don’t want to break down later.

      Once my inventory fills up, it is really easy to go to a vendor, press one button to sell all my “junk”, then visit a forge to break down all the items I’ve “taken” (they’ll be the only ones listed on this screen, since I’ve sold all the stuff I didn’t want to break down and it doesn’t show equipped items.) Quickly break these down, and my inventory is empty and I’m ready to continue playing.

      This is WORLDS better than the Skyrim version of selling a few (sometimes ONE) item to a vendor, then running to another vendor to sell a few more. I love Skyrim, but this game is worlds better when it comes to inventory management.

  13. Orija says:

    I hated the demo for Amalur more than I disliked that of DA 2, and that’s something.

    • Zenicetus says:

      For me they were about on the same level of bad. Unfortunately I thought that because it was Bioware, the actual DA2 game wouldn’t be that bad. I was wrong.

  14. jack4cc says:

    My advice : play Jade Empire instead.

    • Phinor says:

      I already did. Now what?

    • ffordesoon says:

      All snarkiness aside, it actually is remarkably similar to Jade Empire, isn’t it?

      I mean, it’s remarkably similar to almost every RPG ever made, but Jade Empire is a more useful comparison than a lot of the ones you could make.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Jade Empire work/run on a modern Win7 x64 OS?

      Did it get any pertinent mods/updates?

      Always heard good things, but never got round to it, and it seems incredibly unmentioned compared to, well, anything else.

  15. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I was well disappointed that the rest of the demo wasn’t as dark as the intro. Not a day-one purchase, but I’ll keep my eye on it anyway.

    • phylum sinter says:

      There is darkness within, only the general overworld (so far – 11 hours, approx 1/5 of the map in) is as pastoral as this WIT mentions.

      I’ve come across a few human sacrifice cults and a mayor-to-be that wants me to lure and kill his competition. So it’s got some of that, if that’s what you’re into.

  16. Aatch says:

    I plan on getting this when I have a bit more money, but from what I’ve seen from reviews, it looks like my kind of game. I have been jonesing for a slightly more silly, slightly more linear game, with GoW/Darksiders style combat (I think I actually want to play a new Zelda game). I am kinda bored with sandbox games right now, and bored with first-person RPGs (my quest for a decent combat system led me to DMMM, which I found frustrating due other parts of the gameplay), Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind are too slow-paced.

    I like the predictable story, I spend my entire day thinking and solving problems (as a programmer) so when I sit down to play a game, I don’t want to have to decipher a complex storyline. In regards to combat, what I have heard makes me exited. A proper action (i.e., I control it directly, rather than point-and-click) combat system, with responsive controls and realtime blocking, sounds like exactly what I want, I like strategy, but sometimes I just want to gut a faerie. Add in the interesting class-ish system, and the fact that you aren’t just one character, with one set of moves, means that I can tailor this character to the way I want. Daggers, quick strikes, lots of dodging, a few fireballs, maybe some debuffs (I tend to ignore self-buffs), there we go — Rogue/mage (I am guessing at the range of spells available).

    A forgettable world is more or less what I want right now, sure its not going to be a classic that people are still raving about in 10 years, but the industry still needs games like this, the same way the book industry still publishes trashy romance novels, and people still legitimately enjoy them, not everything has to be an exercise in high art. (I’m not suggesting that anybody has said this, or even implied it, just stating my opinion)

    • nrvsNRG says:

      ive tailored my guy as a pure rogue (finesse tree) and im having a great time dashing about poisoning everone (the long bow stuff feels great and gets to be very over powered), but im pretty sure i will be mixing it up a little later in the game once ive maxed out the tree.

      i know exactly what you mean by needing a game like this to relax to when you get home from work.Great fun.

  17. Blackcompany says:

    I am an “immersionist” gamer. My girlfriend is a “happy gamer.” I love to be immersed in a challenging, cruel, cold world where survival is paramount and thriving nearly impossible. The Witcher 2 works well for me. I am slowly modding Skyrim to have this same dark, challenging, morbidly difficult feel. I both love and hate Skyrim, for what it is and could be, respectively.
    My girlfriend just hates it. Period. She loathes Skyrim and Bethesda with a passion she reserves for few things. Over and over again, I hear the words “tripe” and “formula” and “oblivion clone” out of her mouth. Every time I turn Skyrim on she asks me “Playing it or fixing it? Again.” She despises Bethesda and chides me with the “You make fun of people for buying the same game every year with COD and Battlefield, but its ok for you to do it because you just have to wait longer?”
    She isn’t wrong. I want to say she is, to try and explain to her that while Skyrim is ok vanilla – good not great – I want to make it more like I prefer it to be. I want to tell her she is wrong, bad impression, mages (she loves them) get more powerful later on, etc. I want to tell her she is wrong because I want her to be wrong.
    But she isn’t wrong.
    By the way, she loves Amalur. Which is the whole reason for writing this.
    She loves it because its fun. She loves it because her weapons feel as if they are hitting something other than air in combat. She loves bashing someone with her sword and see them pushed back while she switches on the fly to her magic stave to finish pummeling them with fire. She loves the dual daggers, with their cool, reversed style and quick, slashing moves. She loves the light, cartoon-eerie creatures, many of which are so unlike critters (her word) from other games.
    She recognizes fantasy tropes in Amalur. But she also sees dialogue options, weird creatures, fairies and fey and combat that just feels good. She sees colors and a fantasy setting, whereas in Skyrim she sees something akin to “filming a LARP on the set of Lord of the Rings.” Clever girl, there.
    We respect one another’s preferences. I don’t deride her for playing what I feel is a cartoon RPG. She doesn’t get one me (too much) about having to basically “fix or improve” every Bethesda game I get hold of. She is puzzled by it, definitely (“wouldn’t you rather play than fix?”) but she lives with it.
    But she loves Amalur. Because its simpler and less intimidating than Skyrim. Because its colorful and weird. Because it drops loot like crumbs at a picnic. Because magic and weapons have real impact.
    She loves Amalur because where Skyrim is immersive and daunting at times, Amalur is pure, cartoon fun and she likes that about it.

    • Jumwa says:

      I respect much of what you’re trying to say, but… Skyrim is just an Oblivion clone, but Fable 4: Reckoning of Amalur is somehow breaking a mold, seriously?

    • Blackcompany says:

      Never said Kingdom of Fable: The Wowing was mold-breaking. My girlfriend not being acquainted with WoW or really the MMO genre at all is perhaps part of the reason Amalur is so fantastical to her. Whereas she is very well acquainted with Dragons, orcs, elves, etc and tires of them rather more quickly than my much more nerd-tastic self.

    • phylum sinter says:

      That’s cool that you have a relationship and that your girlfriend likes the opposite of you.

      I wonder if she knows what RPS is, so she might pipe in on her own?

    • Blackcompany says:

      She knows of the site. But she also works in Payroll, and its tax time in America. Still, I keep trying to get her to sign up and chime in now and then. Gaming needs more women active in the community. I think her voice, and that of people like her, would be a nice addition to gaming.
      On another note, we both like Saints Row the Third and Borderlands far, far too much.

    • Jumwa says:

      Thankfully my partner and I share most of the same tastes. Well, enough so that the differences matter little anyhow. She adores Skyrim, we play MMOs together, she even got into Civilization IV with me big time. She’s come a long way from when we first started playing together, and Paper Mario was her first game since the Genesis.

      The areas in which we differ are like with Borderlands. We both enjoyed it, but whereas I have been eager to replay it ever since we finished it, she’s just been done with it, and has no interest in firing the game up again.

      Anyhow, just felt that point seemed worthy of addressing as you were otherwise quite reasonable about it all. Both games are quite good from my own perspective, but I really couldn’t award either any significance as having shook up gaming with their originality.

    • Zenicetus says:

      “She loves it because her weapons feel as if they are hitting something other than air in combat. “

      Aye, that’s the problem with Skyrim melee in a nutshell. I don’t know if this is something that modding can fix. It’s probably buried deep in the game engine with animations and hit detection.

      A game doesn’t have to feature cartoon action moves to pull it off. The Witcher games do it reasonably well, and Batman is great for punching. Dark Messiah did it well. Bethesda just doesn’t get it, whatever “it” is about making combat feel physical in a game.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Admittedly, Skyrim’s combat is the best in any Elder Scrolls game. It’s more fun and feels more tactile than it ever has.

      However, that simply makes it tolerable.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Thanks for chiming folks. Really.
      As for Skyrim’s combat…I think I may well have “fixed” the melee impact issue. Er, somewhat. More or less.
      My fix is two-fold. The first mod alters gameplay settings related to combat, much like Duel and Deadly Combat. I dramatically upped the odds of stagger on hit. I also left it that blocking largely negates the possibility of stagger – didn’t want blocking to be useless. There is a small, small chance you or an opponent will be staggered, but its miniscule if you block.
      I also changed settings pertaining to NPC “Intelligence” in combat. Blocking and bashing are so much more prevalent that my lvl 40 hero was twice destroyed (can we still say that in America; wow was that fiasco embarrassing over here). NPC’s now block and bash A LOT more. Think, like 80% more often. But they do it logically, to break counter attacks or break blocks. Gone are the days when you blithely sit behind your shield, recovering stamina, while no one bothers bashing you. Also, blocking hits uses 30 stamina now, but stamina regens slightly faster in my mod (like Duel.)
      The other half of the mod is the OP part. You can now stagger most smaller enemies (think human size or below) if they are not blocking. This means running up to archers and whacking them good with their bow out now staggers them ever so slightly. They grunt, the fall back but they do have time to recover as well.
      All in all combat is so far much, much more dangerous and challenging, but timing hits is far more rewarding. Just need to test with a new, low level character in order to release. Hopefully, this weekend.
      /shameless self promotion

  18. nrvsNRG says:

    i cant stay away from it, so thats good enough for me.(playing with 360 pad works best)

    • trjp says:

      I actually find the controller makes the game feel poorer – not really sure why but I switched back to keyboard/mouse after about an hour and I’m happier for it.

      I think it might be because it makes the ‘one button combat’ feel less like one button combat :)

  19. Jumwa says:

    It must be vastly different from the demo if you managed all those words about it instead of just “It’s exactly like Fable”.

    That’s not a jab at Amalur or Fable, mind, as I enjoyed both (Amalur’s demo anyhow, never played the actual thing). Never had any issue with bugs in the demo either. Though overall it just made me feel like all the comparisons to Skyrim were ridiculous, and that the open-world claim was utterly false and disingenuous.

    Still though, I will probably get it once the game is on sale for like $5.

    • phylum sinter says:

      Pineapple Smash Crew is a game well worth $5. Asking $60 for a digital download of this (or anything else) seems a little pricy to me… but this game is worth well more than $5.

  20. mondomau says:

    I really want to buy this game for the combat and the loot-whoring, but I just can’t get past the hideous visuals. And no, I’m not being a graphics snob: it’s not the tech, it’s the style – the gawky, over saturated cartoon, bloom-heavy WoW art style. Eugh.

    • trjp says:

      I don’t get Dali – if he’d used a lot more pink and not included the weird animals and melting clocks he’d have done better.

      Is what you just said…

      KoA is how video games are supposed to look IMO – Skyrim (CoD, BF et al) is video games trying NOT to look like video games. The latter is valid but the former is ‘proper’ :)

    • Belsameth says:

      Turning off post processing helps as well.

    • Subatomic says:

      Isn’t it a bit strange to be going on about how the appeal of art is in the eye of the beholder and than turn around and say “but that’s the way games are *supposed* to look!”?
      There’s nothing wrong in liking the art style of more realistic games more than the cartoony, colourful and bright that Amalur is going for. I personally like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone or there’s something wrong with not liking it.

    • Kdansky says:

      Amalur’s style just works so much better as a game:

      – No uncanny valley when your game looks more like a comic.
      – Silly over-the-top animations are acceptable. DaoC had a “realistic” style, and doing somersaults feels weird.
      – Flat planes (aka displays) are bad at 3D, but without depth, it’s hard to play. Without colour, you have less clues what’s in front of what. Windwaker has a black&white level, and it’s by far the hardest, because you can never tell what you are looking at. High saturation makes everything easier to see and therefore play.
      – Comic graphics work okay when you have to scale down for older machines.
      – Comic graphics age well. Everquest 2 and Tomb Raider Legend look absolutely horrible by now. Psychonauts and WoW are still fine. Hell, Zelda Link to the Past and Secret of Mana look still good, and those were made decades ago, while even Final Fantasy (any PS2 or older) has aged badly.

      Can you do otherwise? Sure! But it’s the hard way.

    • Zenicetus says:

      One problem with getting this close to the WoW art style is that millions of people have played WoW, and some have lived in that world for years. I did for 2 years and that was enough. It’s a cool art style on its own merits, I think, but some of us have seen just a bit too much of it.

    • Kdansky says:

      Well, the issue with that is not that Amalur is generally colourful and cartoony. The issue being that if you would take a dozen shots of each, someone who had played neither could not tell which screenshots depict which game, because they are so damn similar. I am sick of it too, actually, and Amalur’s art style doesn’t appeal to me either.

    • phylum sinter says:

      I’m finding a lot of similarities between KoA’s art style and Torchlight’s. And i loved Torchlight. The bloom doesn’t seem distracting to me.

      At the end of the day i don’t really “hate” one type of art style, i think i’d hate it if every game ever tried to attempt the same art style.

  21. misterT0AST says:

    I’ve been following this game since it was first announced.
    To be honest the idea that you are the “only one able to make decisions”, the “chosen one” seemed really, really clever to me, as it somehow explained and made canon the weird way in which you’re supposed to be the one doing everything in every freaking RPG.
    The fact that this is a beatiful, generic and soulless game only makes that idea more exhilaratingly true and intelligently accurate, and it fully justifies the manifest blandness of it.
    I love the pride and joy the game shows off for being so perfectly generic.
    It’s junk food at its best. I will buy it, loot everything there is to loot, craft everything there is to craft, laugh at the predictable plot, finish it once, finish it twice on hard difficulty trying to fight bare handed from beginning to end, finish it another time speedrunning it, I will laugh at its glitches, download the most ridiculous mods for it, and then forget it ever existed.
    Game of the year.

    • Blackcompany says:

      So in other words: treat it exactly like we would Skyrim, just over a shorter time period.
      Not a bad plan, really.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      generic,yes, but not soulles, and actually there is no glitches/bugs and you should play through on hard from the get go, as its too easy on normal.

    • phylum sinter says:

      Agreed about the difficulty – try “Hard” from the get go and see if it feels like “Normal” to you.

  22. Jimbo says:

    I should be into this, but it just seems too… vanilla? Too tick-boxy? Like it was developed by game-developing robots. I don’t get a sense that it has any character of its own or any soul. Even the rough edges of Elder Scrolls help in that regard.

    • trjp says:

      Like early WoW, the entire game focusses on ‘see someone who needs something, talk to them, do what they want, advance’ and the ENTIRE game is built around that ‘go-fer’ model.

      WoW shook that off by the 2nd expansion – offering people choice (actually by making levelling easier) and so making a world which was far more interesting (IMO)

      It’s arguable that Skyrim is no different in concept from KoA or WoW but it’s clearly been created with no preset path through it and they mask a lot of the ‘who needs what’ with conversation and choice and travel and diversions and allsorts.

      It doesn’t take much to tip from the ‘I’m in a quest spigot’ to ‘I’m in a world with lots of opportunities’ – KoA and early WoW are firmly the former and Skyrim and current WoW the latter.

    • polyester says:

      It’s the downside of creating something by committee. Not to say groups haven’t created something of worth in the past, but you can imagine that this game was always going to be more polish than ingenuity from the direction they’ve taken since they first announced it.

      Can imagine having EA as a publisher had a little to do with that too

    • trjp says:

      I’m pleased someone else brought up “design by committee” because it’s clearly that.

      Mind you – committee will usually pare stuff down and that’s not happened here. It seems that every possible idea from modern RPGs has been crammed in somewhere – often to the detriment of the game as a whole I think.

      It’s certainly one of the better designs by committee ever made then – it’s no Austin Montego!!

  23. Jnx says:

    I’ll pick this for 10 euros on a sale if they patch a FoV slider so that you can raise it above the defaul 6½. And generally the camera is such a bad job that I just can’t support this.

  24. trjp says:

    The Giant Bomb review pretty much covered my thoughts on it – it contains a lot of good bits and a lot of poor bits and if you approach it wrongly you’ll spend FAR FAR too much time playing it.

    Side-quests are for topping-off your level when the main quests are too hard – whatever you do, DON’T take them all because you’ll end up grinding through a metric tonne of tedious and inconsequential shit.

    Also – if you’re even remotely good at playing games you probably want to set it to the hardest difficulty from the off because once you’ve gotten the hang on it, the regular difficulty offers almost no challenge.

    I have to say I like the style of it – I like that it’s a bright ‘neon’ cartoony world in a genre too-often full of greys and browns. I also like that it’s combat has so much variety and there’s certainly a lot to do.

    It’s just not Skyrim – and that’s going to be it’s biggest issue – but if Skyrim is too grey or too moody for you, this should perk you up no end!!

  25. Parrk says:

    In an odd twist, everything that bothered me about the demo was fixed in the full release. I have read accounts that the demo was built from an old build of the game, but that bit of explanation does not do justice to the actual improvements that were made. The bizarre graphical glitches are all gone (for me at least). The wasd controls are insanely more responsive.

    All in all, I am really enjoying hte game. I definitely can identify with the seemingly-illogical compulsion to play on. There are more quests than I can even imagine ever completing on a single playthrough.

    The faction-based quest chains seem to approach the glory of oblivion, though I have not finished one, so I cannot say that confidently. The Warrior-based faction’s quest chain has occupied the majority of my organizaed progression-related time. That quest chain is very lengthy and fairl enthralling. I began the mage faction quest chain but have only done 3 quests so far. I accepted the rogue-based faction’s initial quest, but have yet to finish it due to my aversion to theft in this maiden voyage of the cheezy-2d-“good guy”-express.

    There are annoyances.

    The menus have been mentioned. they are bad, and the frequency in which they must be used serves to underscore that at least once every 10 mins.

    If you pursue a faction quest string, you will out-level increasingly large chunks of the main quest. Nothing says “I’m changing the world for the better” like a 20-second encounter with grey mobs.

    The “Dispel” skill mini-game is simply horrid. IT is so bad that I have taken to quick saving before I try it then choosing the “auto-try 10% success” option then hitting f9 until it works.

    I disagree with the notion that conversation trees contain much depth. Whether you consider this an npc characterization issue or a dialogue one, ou will never walk away from a conversation with an npc feeling satisfied, or like you have interacted with anything more than a quest board with a cheesy smile.

    I am level 20 and though I have had many conversations with the sexy elfess from the demo, she simply will not offer me a choice to say “so….where have we met?” “how do you know me” or FFS “who the fuck am I ms. ‘you were interesting before you died, but are moreso now’?”

    It is maddening that this major npc, this advisor, this friend from another life…..will not toss me a bone about my identity.

    She FUCKING knows…

    She alludes to it constantly.

    We were friends (I gather), and are Friends again (or at least semi-trusted associates), and she will not do me this one, most basic solid.

  26. sonofsanta says:

    Perhaps the worst part is that the core conceit of the Amalur’s plot – that you are the one person in this world you can truly decide his own fate and therefore change the fate of others – is an interesting idea (even an interesting meta-comment on RPGs generally)

    Despite the open structure, it’s not really providing much for the digital explorer or the mystery-hungry reader. There is no pretension to a true sandbox

    So a rather ironic juxtaposition of story and mechanic then? Or perhaps that is the joke: even the most liberated of men is constrained by things beyond his comprehension.

    Pretentious blithering aside, this sounds very much like a Fable style of game for me – as in, once I have exhausted myself on a Stalker, all ambition and bugs and challenging what games can be, sometimes it’s nice to sit back and think how much my ten year old self would have adored knowing games like this would exist one day. Polished and perfectly shiny and just doing its thing well.

  27. pakoito says:

    It is the most correct game I have ever played. It just plays but never amazes.

    I’m still having a good time tho, which is enough.

  28. Kleppy says:

    This is exactly what I need after spending two months on Skyrim.

  29. Zepp says:

    This game is CRAP! its not even an RPG at all!

  30. Fwiffo says:

    I’ve heard it’s pretty easy even on hard. Well, maybe ‘unchallenging’ is a better word. Totalbiscuit said he never died in 8 hours of play and could destroy whole towns from the start. That doesn’t sound too good for people who want a challenge.

    • UncleLou says:

      I’ve died a few times on hard – I guess it depends (gaming abilities aside) on how thoroughly you play it. As others have pointed out, you might get too powerful if you do all the sidequests.

      That said, I could have avoided dying because you can potion-spam, which is a bit of a flaw.

      All in all, I am enjoying it a lot, everything is just so slick and polished, and the monster design is indeed great. I am hardly following the story, I basically play it as a Diablo (or a Torchlight, if you want) with a different camera.

      It’s nice just to pick up and play, especially coming from Dark Souls and playing The Witcher 2 on “Dark”.

    • Kdansky says:

      It TotalBiscuit doesn’t die for 8 hours, then I would probably never know what dying looks like. He’s quite entertaining, but I usually cringe when I see him play, because he’s just bad and often uninformed.

    • Belsameth says:

      Potion spam is patched out with a 0 day patch. It’s on a 10 sec cooldown now.

  31. caddyB says:

    It’s a fun little game that shouldn’t be taken seriously. A better Fable, if I may.

    • Blackcompany says:

      An immortal cat told me there was no such thing as a good fable…

  32. Kdansky says:

    What bothers me is how generic it is. Boring NPCs, boring races, boring woods. No originality at all.

    But what I find absolutely horrible is the overarching theme of “Fate”:

    The NPCs all complain about their daily problems, and want you to solve them, in typical MMO fashion. But they all know that they are bound by fate. Why would they even complain? If everyone you ever knew cannot escape their fate to begin with, and that fact is ingrained in culture and society, why do they bother? Every single quest giver pretty much subverts their own character the moment they open their mouth, and none has a motivation that makes sense.

    Secondly: If I play the only character who unbound by fate, then why do I have to follow the linear plot? Linear plots work, but please don’t shine a bright spotlight on the issue of it being so linear, and for Mythra’s sake don’t lie to me about having a choice! It’s like they play 90 minutes of benny-hill music during a horror film: It makes you want to stick a knife in your ear, because it’s so jarring it hurts. This is only made worse by the total lack of sensible dialogue options when talking to major characters (such as: “I know you know who I was before I had lost my memory for plot’s sake. Tell me or I’ll gut you like a fish.”), instead of using that lack as material for a “plot twist”.

    That said, combat feels extremely slick (though equally extremely too easy), and the rage meter is like a super meter for Akuma in ST2. You’re already two tiers above anyone else, you really don’t need super moves on top of that.

    It’s bargain bin material.

  33. sharks.don't.sleep says:

    Jim, did you encounter any issues regarding the FOV? (headache, etc)

    I stumbled upon this forum post and now I’m unsure whether to buy it or wait for a patch?

    Can’t download the demo because of a bandwith cap.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      That stuff doesn’t bother me, and in Amalur the camera shifts about a lot anyway (panning out to reveal combatants etc) so I don’t think it matters.

    • trjp says:

      I think people are complaining about the FoV because PC owners just like to complain about stuff like that.

      Being a third-person game, the FoV is fine and dandy IMO – I cannot see why you’d have an issue with it at all…

      It’s not like Skyrim, which is – by default, at least – in “blinkers” mode.

  34. Vagrant says:

    As a person who is anti-MMO because I hate people, also I hate pointless quests and long leveling to falsely extend the gameplay, I have long been desiring “an MMO with all those pesky massively multiplayer annoyances carefully erased.” Everything I hear about this game makes me want it more.

    • trjp says:

      You sound like you have no idea what you’re talking about whatsoever really…

      Subscription MMOs are, of course, endless – that’s the way those games work. It’s not “extending the gameplay”, it IS the gameplay.

      I doubt you hate other people – I suspect you’re just terrified of looking like a nub. Thing is tho, most MMOs are playable solo for most of the time – you just miss out the FUN parts.

      Amalur is basically WoW with action-RPG combat and no other people tho – if that’s what you wanted, then it will suit you.

      Grind is is most definately present tho – moreso than in WoW these days in fact (esp if you can work with others!!)

    • Nice Save says:

      I’m with Vagrant on this one. A single player game with the depth and amount of content of an MMO, as well as the after-release support, upgrades and balancing, is something I would gladly pay a subscription for.

      The only part of MMOs I don’t like are the other players. I’m quite happy on my own, thanks, no, don’t talk to me, I’ll ignore you. The moment I’m forced to team up to progress is the moment I’m no longer a customer.

  35. Hoaxfish says:

    If I’m not mistaken… they’re actually going to make an MMO.

  36. Tuco says:

    Playing this I couldn’t help but noticing a thing: the writing is terrible, even for videogames’ standards.
    Hell, it’s terrible even for Salvatore’s standards.
    There isn’t a single dialogue or line in the game that doesn’t make me feel the urge to rush and skip all the jabbering.

    It makes Bioware look great in comparison. It makes The Witcher 2 look like Dostoevskij.
    All the money spent to hire Salvatore could easily be putted on better use to improve the game on the other areas, at the same time improving even the writing cause, let’s face it, they could hardly pick something worse.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Take an author accustomed to working alone or with a single editor in the medium of books. As him to write for a design-by-comittee video game development team.
      The result – for better or worse – is Amalur.
      And the writing…its light years better than Bethesda. Not that achieving that takes a whole lot, granted, but there it is.
      And it does make the Witcher 2 look award winning in terms of writing.

    • BobbyKotickIsTheAntichrist says:

      Yeah, while Witcher 2 was perfectly fine story wise, but you could easily recognize that Sapkowski didn’t write for this one. But apart from it predecessor it was still leaps and bounds above anything released in the last several years (again, story wise, that i can think of).

  37. MuscleHorse says:

    Your mentioning of the writer from Oblivion set off alarm bells – possibly some of the worst dialogue/story in recent gaming history, not mentioning the over reliance on cliché.
    Yet to play the demo but this sounds like something I’d pick up in a sale.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Recommend playing the demo. The writing is honestly worlds better than Skyrim, the game’s closest competition. And combat is fun, that much I can say.

    • ffordesoon says:

      FYI, it’s the lead designer of Oblivion, not the writer.

  38. Daniel Klein says:

    Am I the only one who really liked the demo? Mostly for the general feel of combat. I’m thinking I’ll buy this; this will probably scratch my ARPG itch until Torchlight 2 comes out.

  39. Vinraith says:

    This is why detailed breakdowns like this are incredibly useful. This game is intriguing, it’s largely open world, has lots of quests and dialog, and has lots of loot. In most respects it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d adore and want to snap up on day one to support it.

    However, I thought the combat in Fable was god-awful. I thought God of War was an exercise in misery. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in any game that resolves combat in this way, so I shall take this warning and spend my money elsewhere.

  40. ffordesoon says:

    To be fair, I think the combat in Amalur is far more enjoyable than that of either of the games you mentioned.

    But you probably still wouldn’t like it, no.

    EDIT: Bah, that was supposed to be a reply to Vinraith.

  41. ffordesoon says:

    This review hits it on the head, based on what I’ve played so far. The difference is only that I seem to like it a lot more than Jim does. But this quote in particular nails the problem with it:

    “It’s a sugary, guilty sort of compulsion, though, because Amalur’s formula is one that has ultimately entangled the part of me that wants to see the next pleasing monster design, or the next level of magic powers. The delightful contrast of stabbing someone with razor-fast daggers versus clubbing them to death with a half-tonne battle-hammer is good too, but what it does not offer is anything with serious meat. No grand vision, no technical triumph, no opera.”

    And that’s why, despite being a “better” (read: more polished, better combat, no game-breaking bugs, persuasion is actually a thing) game than Skyrim, it’s also a lesser one.

  42. Miltrivd says:

    It seems to me this is reduced to: If you like MMOs and Hack ‘n Slash you won’t “dislike” this game.

    That’s what I see is the common denominator in comments and reviews, feels like the game doesn’t hold much appeal in itself besides the likeness and mix of genres. For people like me that like just a few hack ‘n slah games and not the genre itself, the combat wasn’t challenging or rewarding at all, it feels simple and easy, fights felt like a chore, since there was no feeling of danger at all.

  43. Jupiah says:

    On the one hand: I enjoyed the demo quite a bit. If, as several people have stated, that demo was actually a poor representation of the final game, then I’m really interested in buying the game.

    On the other hand: Online Pass. For a single player game. Which is not very accurate, it’s actually a day one dlc that just unlocks stuff already on the disc. It’s just a massive middle finger to anyone that buys the game used. I know I don’t have to buy the pass and I won’t be missing out on much, but I still do no want to support that kind of stupidity.

    When are game publishers and developers going to learn that the used game market is not their enemy? Seriously, just imagine if any other industry pulled tried to pull this crap. Imagine if you bought a used car and got home to find that the air conditioning and heater won’t work until you call General Motors and purchase an activation code, and they give you some bullcrap line about how they’re just “promote early adopters” and “reward customers who commit to us with their time and money when it benefits the company.” and reassure you that “air conditioning dlc is absolutely 100% free to anyone who purchases their vehicle new”. How long do think people would put up with that?

    • jjs132 says:

      This has probably been building up in me since Oblivion’s Horse Armour, but this is the first game where the DLC has actually been the deciding factor in my deciding NOT to purchase…

  44. FecesOfDeath says:

    Better than Dungeon Siege III?

  45. Eynonz says:

    Is that the ridiculously overpowered Shepard Gear that your wearing in those screenshots? Wow you mustve skipped through that game on the hardest difficulty…..

  46. Tams80 says:

    Is the archery still limited (this is from playing the demo)? Unless it gets significantly better, I’m not the interested.

  47. Premium User Badge

    Waltorious says:

    I’m interested in this game, but I’m having trouble confirming what the DRM scheme is. Does it require Origin? That might be enough to make me skip it.

  48. cylentstorm says:

    Hi Amalur. It’s nice to meet you. What’s that? why yes, I would like to hang out and have fun without the stress and worry caused by endlessly second-guessing even minor decisions and choices. I agree, it IS nice to be able to enjoy an adventure without the nagging concern of damning consequences brought about by seemingly minor conversation choices or hasty reactions/accidents. There’s enough of that to be found elsewhere within the the digital realm and most definitely without.

    Your beauty may shine too brightly for those of us who have spent far too long mucking about in the gloom and doom of countless dungeons, and your subtle wit may be overlooked by the jaded or the lazy. Your flaws are simply a sign of your youth and ambition, and should not be taken too seriously.

    So here’s to you you, Amalur–may your future forever outshine your past, and the present be savored regardless of both. Cheers!

    • food says:

      Very much agreed on this. Reckoning was a great surprise for me. While the story is rather utilitarian, there are some really fun and interesting quirks, like the gnomes. While cliche, they eschew their usual ‘social libertarian’ construct and instead reside under a fascist autocracy with a rigid caste system. The House of Ballads is another interesting narrative, pretend knights who do the same thing over and over again because it’s the way it’s always been done and deviation is akin to heresy. It’s neat to see that level of self-awareness and commentary in an rpg.

  49. Jackablade says:

    As I see it, based on the demo, Kingdoms of Amalur is rather like a great big bowl of porridge without the raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon or even milk that make for a delectable breakfast. Sure there’s an awful lot there but is working your way through a seemingly endless bland sticky goo really what you want to be working on when there’s scrambled eggs and crispy bacon or Bircher Muesli elsewhere on the menu and the sweet if hideously unhealthy Cocopops of Mass Effect 3 on the next shopping list?

  50. Blackcompany says:

    My girlfriend bought this. I sort of sneered at it from my holier-than-thou, look-at-me-I’m-modding throne in front of the newly released Creation Kit. I sat there, crunched numbers, discussed aloud just how much stagger I should allow 1H weapons to have versus 2H weapons, and how much stagger might be overpowered versus making combat weighty in Skyrim (which I am just about done with, actually.)
    Except…for a long period there, I wasn’t modding. Not really.
    Instead I was clicking keys and listening. I was listening to the story of a world where Fate has decried a path for everyone. From cradle to grave, the role of a person in this world is defined by the threads of Fate. Magicians known as Fateweavers read these threads, and can tell a person their fate, up to and often including, their time of death. Everyone in this world is fated to a role, their place in the world and their affect upon it defined from birth.
    Everyone, that is, save for a single individual.
    This person was returned from death to a new body by gnomes as part of their strange and macabre artificery. This person defies fate; the threads neither tie them to a destiny nor recognize one for them. in a world where each person is a slave to fate, this individual is free to carve out their own destiny – or destinies.
    In this world, the Tuatha are a mad new breed of Fey. Seeking to unbalance the perfect harmony of the Summer and Winter court, they have run amock, waging a war of some strange sort on mortals and possibly on other fey. Here the House of Ballads features fey warriors reliving battles of legend and lore, even knowingly going to their own deaths, just to carry on stories of old. It was Fated that way.
    In this world people die of carelessness. Warriors fall on the field of batter. Strange, indeed alien, creatures walk the world. Everyone needs help, a savior – someone not bound by fate to help them. Some tasks are mundane. Some will unravel threads of fate.
    In this world, weapons hit hard, and fast. Swords send opponents reeling backward or into the air; hammers SMASH opponents and daggers and ‘fae blades’ (glaives) spin and twirl in strange ways as the blood flies.
    In this world mortals lie and cheat. They sacrifice the lives of others to save their own. Bandits vie for the services of the Fateless One with noble Warsworn warriors. In this world, even one with no Fate must earn the respect of their fellows through effort and the completion of many harrowing adventures.
    This is not Skyrim. Your role in the world is not revealed 30 minutes into the main quest. In this world – in Amalur – no one knows your destiny. Most especially not you. Some 15 hours into that same game I scoffed at, I still have no idea how I might alter the threads of fate and steer the course of the war against the Tuatha – or even if I will do so. I have no idea if I will lead the Warsworn or just become a member in good standing. If I will hold the throne of the House of Ballads or join common thieves.
    For once in a role playing game, I have more than one role to play, and more than one decision to make in the course of any adventure. I have no idea of my destiny; my mission in this world remains a mystery I must unravel as I go, as opposed to the tired tripe of a prophecy on a piece of paper, laid out before me and revealed after two hours of play time.
    Amalur is a welcome change of pace from Bethesda’s tired tripe. Comabt and magic are over the top and exciting. The writing is worlds better than Skyrim and the quests feature real choices, some of them life and death. I highly recommend overlooking the cartoon art style (it grows on you a la Borderlands) and giving this a go, if you like choice and consequence in your game.
    There is more to Amalur than you would believe at first blush. Its just that you aren’t necessarily fated to find it all in one go.