Republished on Wednesday, 28th October, 2021: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of November 2021's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
As regular Push Square readers may already know, we decided to hold off on our Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning review back when the embargo lifted. This was thanks to a game-breaking bug that we encountered on three separate character saves, which prevented us from seeing most of what the remaster has to offer. Thankfully, that bug was fixed with the game's latest update (at the time of writing, anyway), and so we finally feel like we can give Re-Reckoning a full review.
Let's start from the top: Kingdoms of Amalur was one of our favourite action role-playing games of the previous generation. It certainly had its flaws, but it was fantastic fun to actually play. The whole experience was propped up by a slick, satisfying combat system — and the good news is that this system still holds up today.
Performing combos with various weapons, unleashing powerful magic attacks, and pulling off perfect parries — this is what Kingdoms of Amalur is all about. We're almost a decade down the line, but this combat system is still one of the best that the genre has to offer. It's weighty, punchy, and really rewarding once you've mastered the fundamentals.
So smacking monsters about is still a joy, but the same can't be said for the rest of this high fantasy adventure. In terms of storytelling, structure, and presentation, Kingdoms of Amalur hasn't aged especially well. Even with its graphical touch-ups on PS4, Re-Reckoning is rough around the edges. Character models are downright ugly, the user interface is seriously clunky, and a lot of the voice acting is decidedly dodgy.
Still, there's a certain charm to Amalur despite its chunkiness. Its semi-open world, complete with picturesque forests, rolling plains, and foreboding swamps, is fun to explore. It feels like a secret or two hides down every overgrown path, and quests often lead you towards fresh and exciting new areas. It's a big game, and only following the main story means that you miss out on some of Amalur's most intriguing attractions.
Speaking of the main story, there have always been some cool concepts at its core. Your custom character is not bound by fate in a world where everything is predetermined and foretold. You and you alone have the ability to alter destiny, and as such, your actions send shockwaves across history. Needless to say, your hero has a role to play in the ongoing war that engulfs the world — a battle that mortals cannot win without your help.
It's an interesting plot on paper, but it's mostly told through dreary dialogue from secondary characters that you don't really care about. Similarly, side quests are often quite boring. Killing a specific monster, collecting a certain number of items — you know the drill. There's a lot of busywork to get through if you go looking for it, but again, it's the promise of more combat that keeps you hooked.
Character progression is also a factor. Developing your fateless hero is engrossing, as you mix and match abilities from three different skill trees: Might, Finesse, and Sorcery. You can spend all of your skill points on maxing out a single tree, or you can dabble in a bit of everything. Depending on your choices, your play style may change dramatically as you begin to favour specific weapon types and skill synergies. There's so much room for experimentation here, and it's another area in which Amalur still excels.
However, as a remaster, Re-Reckoning can be very hit and miss. It adds some welcome bits and pieces, like camera distance options and a very hard difficulty setting, but visually, it's not a huge improvement. Aside from an obvious bump in resolution, not much has changed, and the remaster has even managed to introduce a number of graphical glitches that weren't present in the original release.
Fortunately, if you can look beyond the graphics, Re-Reckoning makes some much needed changes to the game's underlying systems. Most of these alterations won't mean a thing unless you're already familiar with Amalur, but they make a huge difference to how it all works. For example, zones are no longer locked to your character's level upon entry. Instead, they scale with you throughout the game, resulting in a much more consistent experience, both in terms of enemy difficulty and loot. What's more, randomised loot is now geared towards the kind of character that you're playing.
Re-Reckoning isn't a great remaster, but there's no denying that Kingdoms of Amalur is still a lot of fun to play. Its action-based combat has stood the test of time, and exploring its often whimsical world is enjoyable. If you can look past the clunky presentation and fairly frequent bugs, you'll find an ample high fantasy adventure.
Played this about 2 years ago in ps3. Was a blast. IMO it deserves a 7/10, maybe even 8.
Damn it!! Was sounding so good until;
“zones are no longer locked to your character's level upon entry. Instead, they scale with you throughout the game”
I genuinely hate enemy scaling in an RPG. It makes the entire levelling system pointless. Even locking enemy levels to the zone when you enter sounded bad, now it sounds much worse. Why can’t enemies just be the level they are!? I want to feel a sense of progression, from being completely decimated when trying to pass through a particular area, to eventually wiping the foor with all before me.
This a gem 💎 of ps3 ERA
This game is oddly very boring while also being kind of enjoyable. At no point does any plot development grab you, no character has charisma, the world looks like someone tried to recreate a WoW zone in Dreams from a vague memory... But I still find it playable. It's the videogame equivalent of going on a walk on your own through places you're really familiar with. Pleasant and relaxing but also somewhat dull.
I'm really enjoying playing this again. There's so much content that I'm pretty sure it'll keep me busy up until I get a PS5.
I was really enjoying playing it again... until I encountered a bug where the background of the local map is gone. Difficult to explore when the map is just a black screen so I've put it on hold until it hopefully gets patched.
I finished it back when it originally released.
It was very captivating game. I will try the remaster down the road for sure. Plus I never played any of the DLCs - The Legend of Dead Kel and Teeth of Naros.
I'm glad to see this game get another chance to shine. It's the closest we'll ever get to having a third person Diablo.
Kingdom of Amalur and Skyrim are still my top two RPG's
@Matroska Reminds me of my thoughts on Watch Dogs 2. Oddly fun while also feeling uninspired and a bit boring. I really should play this one, never did check it out on PS3.
@thefourfoldroot They're set to your level when you enter but then stay at that level while you're there, so you do still get to outlevel them. Also, it seems like the enemies are tiered, so when you go back to an earlier area, even though they reset to your current level, they're still a pushover. And I'm playing on Hard so it's presumably even more pronounced on Normal.
@nessisonett Yeah, it's okay as a kind of virtual tourism with some vaguely Diablo-like loot system. Though I respect the man who can last more than about half an hour after the tutorial without skipping through all the dialogue after speed reading it. Prepare to get a TED talk from a lot of NPCs if you want to see all the dialogue, especially the Fae. (And I like wordy games, it's just that it's pretty flat in this game).
@thefourfoldroot same here. Such a bummer. I don't know if I even wanna play it now.
I was honestly thinking they would do so much better with this remaster...but it just looks like a port! I'm waiting for a sale
I bought a copy of the PS3 original a long time ago for ten or so dollars but never played it lol.
Grant Kirkhope composed the music, so that's neat-o.
@thefourfoldroot To expand on that point, in the original game, regions were locked to your level when you entered them. This means that you could run through the main story, visiting all these different zones, and locking all of them to a very low level. This meant that the enemies would always be weak, and the loot would always be rubbish in these areas. You could basically ruin your game if you weren't careful.
That's what this remaster fixes. And to be fair, you can still become incredibly overpowered just through unlocking skills and upgrading your gear.
@darkswabber I would have given it an 8 back in the day. But this remaster is far too rough to be scored much more than a 6 in my opinion.
Absolutely loving it so far, only two gripes for me and that's the amount of loading screens and long loading times, and also the really low level cap of 40 for an Rpg is pretty tame
@thefourfoldroot Meh level scaling's not en-TIRELY pointless... Well, depends on the game. But level progression is mostly about your character getting stronger; so enemies getting stronger doesn't take away from that if done properly.
For example, in Pokemon, when they level up, they learn new more powerful attacks and evolve. So the enemies scaling (which they don't but I digress) wouldn't matter because it's fun having your mons rise to the challenge. But if it's like a Bloodborne and all leveling allows you to do is raise stats, THEN I can see it being an issue if done poorly.
Yay! You reviewed it! 😁
A 6 is disappointing, but it was one RPG I missed last-gen, so I'm excited to give it a try finally, even with lowered expectations. 😊
@thefourfoldroot I tend to agree with you. You have a better idea of where you’ve been and what you’ve done when the enemies don’t scale.
I loved the original; it was about as close as you could get to a single-player WoW. Not sure I will get around to the re-master just a jam packed last couple months and I want to work through SOME of my backlog before the PS5.
Then make the enemy levels higher as appropriate from the start! What they are trying to avoid is people who just want to run through the story complaining about difficulty spikes.
@Crimson_Ridley With slightly lowered expectations I think you can have loads of fun with this game. Like the review says, it's very rough at times and showing its age, but I still really enjoyed playing through it again (after the bug was fixed!).
Man I thought I saw this game at Walmart for $5, it turns out they repackaged the xbox 360 version in xbox one cases like rockstat has been doing.
@Valhalla91 - Thanks for pointing out the long/frequent loading. I got the PS3 plat for this only a few weeks ago and the loading absolutely killed the game for me. Was really hoping that got sorted out. Ah well, I'll pass on this version. I'm not going through that again.
Ahhh, thanks @ShogunRok. Yes, I feared that there would also be other bugs. Did the patches not fix most?
Also, I heard rumours that the inventory Stash had an increased max storage space. Did you have any problems with holding everything you wanted to keep?
I found before, in the original, that all the unique armour sets were cool so I wanted to keep them and some weapons, too. Then I ran out of space.
I remember the fetch quests for sure, but as you say there are some really interesting ones that led me into a unique fortress and everything. Think they may have been fighting, mage and thief guild quests mostly, still completely optional.
I was really wishful thinking when I was asking for added CG cutscenes for some of the important missions... haha
Thanks for the review, it was a good read.
I bought this on release day for PC (due to the 60% discount, it only cost me around £14 quid), and so far I've sunk over 20 hours into it. I haven't encountered one bug or crash to desktop, even though there's been two PC patches since release.
I originally bought this on the X360, and (somewhere) I even have the official strategy guide for it. However, even though I'm quite familiar with the game, I seem to be enjoying it more this time around.
@Jayofmaya In my experience the patches have fixed all of the bigger issues — the ones that cause crashing and broken quests. It's still buggy, but it's just a lot of smaller issues that pop up from time to time, like graphical glitches and bugged NPCs/enemies.
I never had a problem with the amount of stash space that you're given. I do think the inventory space could be bigger, but I dumped all of my legendary loot that I found into my stash and it was fine. I'm not 100% sure, but I think you get a 300 item limit with storage. Whatever it is, it's more than enough.
@ShogunRok I think it was like 100 before, so that's good news. I'll definitely get it now it has at least been fixed a bit, even if it could have been better. Thanks for the info!
I'm very curious if they will make the new expansion they're working on Stand Alone somehow as I have this game on PS3 but I'm not sure if I should just get the PS4 version instead.
I never played the original, but after seeing this review I will wait for the DLC to release and for the game to be fully patched.
I'm just over 67 hours in and I'm getting a bit burnt out! Gotta stick with it now though. The developers patched the game breaking bug, but the game is still full of glitches. They're spoiling my enjoyment of the game.
Super excited for this! Absolutely love this game!
I'm waiting for the new DLC Fatesworn
Let’s remember that this gem of a game bankrupt 38 Studios.
60fps on ps5? I'm becoming spoiled with frame rates.
I think reviews that state bugs are present need to be updated later on to reflect possible patches that come down the line.
I played this a couple of months ago with plenty of patches applied (this is not to excuse the launch issues), and had two crashes (I can cope with that, they were very rare.)
Great game folks, give it a try. 8/10 as far as remasters for games where the studio who made are gone goes.
@zebric21 It's ~60fps on the PS4 & Pro (higher resolution) too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozIzeThVWTo
I've been playing this for a while now (before it was touted as a Plus title) and yes it looks a little rough around the edges but it still plays great. Probably a 7 or 8 out of 10.
@ShogunRok Thanks for the review. I played this when it came out and like you would have given it an 8 (or 8.5) in it's day and was excited for more games in the series.
However I never got round to the DLC. Is this accessible from the menu or similar? I wouldn't mind playing those but don't fancy a 20-30 retread of the main story to get there. (I'd read a synopsis or watch a quick video)
Or can you access them much earlier? I assume they're end-game content.
Will give it a go. Wish it was a true RPG rather than having enemy scaling, but I’ll just think of it as an action game where your character isn’t supposed to get stronger, just more varied.
@themightyant Nah, I'm afraid you've got to work your way up to the expansions, there's no way to just skip ahead to them.
That said, they're not necessarily endgame content. If I remember right, at least one of them can be found and followed up on quite early.
@ShogunRok Thank you. It's a shame more games, but remasters in particular, don't allow you to jump straight to the DLC.
@themightyant @ShogunRok I think you can start on the DLCs (Legend of Dead Kel, Teeth of Naros) from about level 10? Not sure how Fatesworn will integrate with the base game.
@sanderson72 Thanks mate, much appreciated.
Knowing me i'll start planning to get to level 10 just to play the DLC and then just fall back into all of it.
Can't wait to jump in today! I was always interested in this title but never got around to it, being on Plus is the perfect excuse to give it a spin!
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