- Developer: KAIKO | Big Huge Games | 38 Studios
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Release Date: 16/03/2021
- Price: £36.74 | $39.99
- Review code provided by THQ Nordic
Introducing: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Switch Review
Open-world RPGs are a particular favourite of mine. I remember being absolutely wowed by Fable 2 and 3 back in the Xbox 360 days, and even now they sit among my favourite games of all time. I have no idea how I missed the original, but Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning looked to be along the same lines, so I dug in with enthusiasm – I’m going to apologise now for any Fable comparisons!
Death Becomes… Well, Me
Welcome to Amalur, the war-torn world shared by the immortal Fae and a number of younger mortal races. The threads of Fate dance throughout, their steps visible only to a select few. Each person’s Fate is written and immutable – except, of course, yours. After dying in some utterly mundane way your body is carted off to humanity’s attempt at immortality, and by some miracle the procedure works. For the first and last time, as it happens.
After an introductory sequence that does an excellent job of teaching you the basics, the game basically just lets you go. There are a series of main missions to take on, that will lead you all over Amalur. Just don’t expect to get to them very quickly. I found myself almost instantly distracted by a steadily growing number of side missions, and soon realised that this was easily going to be a huge time sink.
Factions, citizens, and collectables galore mean that there’s always something to do in Kingdoms of Amalur. At 10 hours in, I’d barely touched the main story quests. I’ve never been bored or short of things to do. Though – personally, I love being able to just ignore the main story and do my own thing, so I’m in love with this style of play. Not to mention, all of the previous DLCs come bundled in Re-Reckoning, so there’s even more content!
Hacky, Slashy, and Oh-So-Happy
Fable 2 and 3 were the biggest staples of my entrance to console gaming. Kingdoms of Amalur’s control scheme is so similar! I fell immediately into the familiar pattern of left-stick for movement, right stick for the camera, X and Y for primary and secondary attacks, and the D-pad and bumpers for things like magic and item use. There’s also a special power-up mode, activated by holding ZL and ZR for a moment, that you have to build up through normal attacks. The game felt so nice to play on the Pro controller that I managed 9 hours in a single sitting, and geez did my back know it!
I love it when a game has a character creation system, and KoA’s is just deep enough to give a sense of control over your hero. Where it really shines, though, is in the character development section. There’s no such thing as a fixed “class” in Kingdoms of Amalur; instead, you allocate skill points and ability points to determine your character’s attributes. The number of points allocated to Might, Finesse, and Magic unlock various Destinies that give a variety of bonuses, and can be switched out at any time for any other Destiny cards you’ve unlocked.
The fluidity of the Fateless One’s build is wonderful, and really let me play the way I wanted to without taking any penalties. Fae-blades and chakrams, here we go!
Oh, Stutter, I Have Missed You So!
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning looks really nice on the Switch. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be winning any awards for its graphics, and the text is too small for the handheld screen, but on the whole, it’s still pretty enough to play. There were occasional graphical bugs, such as an odd shadow-self hovering behind my character and stutter when the screen got particularly busy. None of these were major enough to cause issues. It was actually kind of nostalgic. The gorgeous set design and well-chosen colour palette were still enchanting and fantastical to play with.
Voice. Acting. Two little words, that when implemented properly can elevate a game from good to awesome. Every conversation in Kingdoms of Amalur is fully voiced, with the exception of the protagonist. It was a small detail that added a lot of charm to the game. Not that it was lacking in charm, as the epic and atmospheric soundtrack evokes memories of fantasy RPGs of old and stimulates that all-important nostalgic smile.
Other than the occasional graphical stutters, and choices on a conversation wheel not always accepting an input straight away, there were no real bugs or performance issues. I only had one instance of a major issue, and that was the game force-closing on me a single time. That said, I also had issues with other games until I’d restarted my Switch, so it may not have been caused by Kingdoms of Amalur.
Joy! But, Grr! But, Joy!
I am by no means good at video games. I’ve always loved games where I can button-mash and still get by fine. I’m also a big fan of selectable difficulty levels. Thankfully, Kingdoms of Amalur ticks both of those boxes. A choice of 4 difficulty levels sets the baseline, and enemy levels increase based on areas. This makes it easy to recognise when you’re in a too high-levelled area and either confront the challenge or back off according to your confidence. I spent a lot of time in the early game trying to sneak my way through some areas because I was too weak to tackle the enemies safely. But that meant that when I levelled up and earned better equipment there was a real sense of progression. Enemies that had been absolutely beating me into the ground before, suddenly became much easier to deal with, so I was left with an ongoing sense of accomplishment.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning isn’t perfect, by any means. It has graphical stutters, control quirks, and definitely comes across as an older game. However, I found that all of these little niggles added to the experience. They took me back to the gaming I grew up with, resulting in an imperfect but wonderful experience that I’ll be recommending to everyone I can. There are so many hours of gameplay that it’s almost intimidating, but it’s great fun from start to finish and well worth the price tag.
- Pretty, fantasy world
- So. Much. Fun.
- Graphical stutters
- Minor control irritances