Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Few better games have been given a tougher break than Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning [official site]. A truly wonderful epic, bright, and action-led RPG, it was screwed from every direction. It deserves your attention still.
The game is glorious, in a breezy, cartoony way that belies some deeper ideas and excellent mashy combat. I wrote at length about my despair that the game was so woefully abandoned, suffering at the fall of its developer. When it’s quite so much fun!
Created by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, who likely did not know at the time about the financial mess they were in, it doesn’t offer the depth of narrative a BioWare RPG might offer, but it does have extraordinary malleability to your behaviour. When I accidentally slaughtered an entire monastery of monks (I swear it was an accident), rather than finding a game over, instead it adapted to my brutality, shut off the appropriate quest chains, and carried on around me. Impressive stuff.
As part of the obviously abandoned (although they pretend it isn’t) EA Partners, it also didn’t receive quite the publishing effort it deserved. (I remember being at an EA press day, and not even offered a chance to play it, despite its being present. When I hopped on an empty computer for a quick go, I was shouted at!) Despite all this, it went on to sell 1.3m copies in three months, but that could never be enough to cope with the astonishing $75m debt 38 owed the state of Rhode Island, and the ensuing MMO was abandoned, the company folded, and in an asset sell-off, no one would even buy the license. (Well, no one would meet the likely silly price they were asking for it.)
Poor Amalur – you deserved so much more. But thankfully you can still buy it on Steam, although goodness knows who’s getting that money now.