Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo Impressions

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been causing a little bit of a splash in the gaming community over the past few months, and it’s close to the top of my list of games I’m most looking forward to this year. Needless to say I was more than ready when EA released the demo this week. After my time with Kingdoms of Amalur, I must say that I am certainly looking forward to the full game to see how much more this intriguing world has to offer.

You’re immediately tossed into an opening cutscene explaining something about a war that has been raging for several years, tearing the land and people apart. You see what appears to be the main antagonist, an evil king that uses his dark powers to dominate the races. The first thing you’ll notice is that the graphics aren’t the most realistic looking, but that doesn’t appear to be a problem. They, along with the gameplay, have a Fable feel about them, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was clear that the developers where not going for overly realistic graphics. Instead they focused on graphics and visuals that complement the combat and story, and it works great.

After the intriguing cutscene, you’re (sort of) introduced to your character. You start off your journey … dead, covered up under a sheet while two dwarfs wheel you somewhere and chat about how unlucky you are. After some humorously dark dialogue, the character creation begins. The character creation isn’t as deep as games like Skyrim or the Dragon Age series, but you’re given all the necessities: Hair style/color, facial hair style/color, tattoos, jewelry, facial shape, etc. Your choices were from one of four classes. They are a little vague as to what the classes specialize in, but they are basically your typical warrior, rogue, mage, and thief classes. Although the class selection seems a bit shallow, you are able to choose a god to follow, which gives you special increases in certain attributes such as magical and elemental attacks, brute strength, extra stealth, and so forth. It may not take you an hour  to create your character, but you are given enough to craft a character that will face enemies just the way you want them to. I initially chose a warrior base with a god that gave me an increase to my physical abilities, but that didn’t anchor me down to a certain play style at all.

After I created my character, I was dumped into a cavern filled with rotting corpses. After I awoke, the game begins for real and was in total control of my character. I was weaponless and in rags, though that would soon change. I progressed through the starting area, a large cavern filled with spiders, enemy soldiers, and an interesting troll that didn’t really get along with me. As I battled my way through the dank, dark caves, I found several different kinds of weapons to try out, such as a huge sword, a pair of quick daggers, a bow, and a magical fire-spitting staff. Later on I even unlocked my magic abilities, which increased the variety of combat even more.

The combat is without a doubt the selling point for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. You are able to equip any weapon you find as either your primary or secondary weapon. Primary is used with square and secondary is used with triangle. You can switch between the weapons in the middle of combat by using a combination of both buttons. While slaughtering my foes with a giant sword, I switched mid attack to a pair of daggers and swiftly dealt some more damage, or switched enemies completely and dealt with a mob of baddies. It all depended on how I felt. Combine this with the ability to use magical attacks, and I had access to three different attacks that I used interchangeably, allowing for some very unique combos and play styles. As I made my way through the caverns, I came up against mob after mob  and found new ways to deal with each.

Throughout the caves I switched back and forth between brute warrior, stealthy rogue, and magical spellcaster, seeing which one tickled my fancy best. Each appealed to me in different ways. As a warrior I could get up close and personal and deal some hard hitting damage. As a rogue I could sneak up on enemies and get treated to a cinematic stealth kill or quickly eviscerate my foes with fast attacks. Finally as a mage, I could deal massive amounts of elemental damage from a distance or up close. Each style feels rewarding and hard hitting, making each blow you give feel real and worth the effort. After I had my taste of each style, I started using magic and physical attacks interchangeably during most situations, making boredom with the combat non-existent.

At points you are able to converse with other characters within the world. The dialogue is very much like Bioware’s many titles such as the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. You get a wheel for advancing dialogue, allowing for different choices. However, with the little bit I had with it, it is difficult to tell if my choices would have far-reaching consequences, although that is definitely what is hinted.

Eventually I leveled up. Several options were at my disposal: Might (warrior), Finesse (rogue), and Spells (mage). Again, it may not be as extensive as some games out there, but it allows you to craft the perfect fighter, even allowing for hybrid creations, which was the most rewarding play style for me.

My only complaints during the demo are that the audio drops out in certain places — whether it be music or sound effects — and the dialogue text speeds up and is unreadable after the first five or so minutes of play. This may be me or it might be the demo. Either way I hope it is fixed by the time Reckoning is released.

After I escaped the dark cave and made my way out into the open world, I was informed that I had forty five minutes to explore, accept and accomplish quests, and what not. Though not as massive as the full game will be, I was able to see enough to pique my curiosity about the rest of the world that I didn’t have access to.

The demo opens up the world of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to everyone and gives you just enough to know that you have a unique experience at your finger tips. The combat was rewarding and offered enough variety to keep me entertained despite my short time spent within, and my brief glimpse of the world was fulfilling enough to bring me back when the full game comes out.