Impressions On The Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo

Recently released is a demo for the game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.  This upcoming fantasy RPG was penned by R. A. Salvatore, the author of works such as the Icewind Dale series and the DemonWars saga.  Come with me as I take an in-depth look at this preview.  However, there may be plot spoilers, so if you wish to go into the game fresh you may want to turn away….

You’re still here?  Alright, I warned you!  The start of the demo appears to be the beginning of the full release.  A yet nameless narrator explains the setting: a war is raging between the young races of Amalur and the powerful,immortal Fae of the Winter Court (who have taken the name Tuatha), with the latter of the two winning.  This may not be permanent though as the player’s life, or rather their death, is hinted as being a turning point.  From here, the scene opens on two Gnomes (not the kind with pointy red hats) transporting a cadaver for disposal.

This dead body is that of your character’s, and once the sheet is pulled back it’s time for creation.  Players have a choice of one of four races, two human and two elven, and each comes with its own bonuses to different stats.  For the ladies, you may choose to play as a woman as well.

After race and gender selections, players may select a god to align themselves with, for various other stat enhancements.  Should you not favor the idea of being tied to a deity (like I don’t) then you have the option of being self-sufficient with an extra 1% experience bonus.

From here, it’s on to appearance.  As per usual RPG fare, players are able to pick several preset face structures, hair styles, eye colors, facial hair, and even tattoos.  The amount of customization available before gameplay even starts is fairly hearty, and upon release it’s sure to make many players very happy.

Once you’re all done, your dead character is dropped down a hole.  Some time later, you awaken, amidst a pile of rotting corpses.  After digging your way out, you finally get control.  You’ll be led through a few brief combat lessons, and will eventually run into one of the Gnomes who dumped you.  He will explain that you’re in a place called the Well of Souls, which was designed as a place to bring the dead back to life in order to gain an edge in the war.  Being the only success, he notes that your survival is crucial, and with that you’re off to see the Well’s creator.

What follows is a bit of a tutorial level, designed to teach you each aspect of the game such as advanced combat, how to use magic, and how to be stealthy. Some players may notice many similarities to the Fable series in terms of both graphics and control schemes.  You have two buttons for attacks (which any weapon type may be equipped to), one for evasion, another to sprint, a trigger for blocking, and another to enable magic usage.

Stealth mode can be toggled on and off, and if you’re successful in sneaking up on an enemy, then they can be instantly killed via an assassination animation.  This will surely be a favorite of rogue players.  Overall, the combat is very impressive, using simple yet engaging controls.

After fighting your way through the level, you will eventually come to meet Professor Hugues, creator of the Well of Souls.  Here you will find out a bit more about the Well, and what the attacking Tuatha want with it.  Your chat will be cut short however, as your enemies catch up with you.  Hugues demands that you escape, and meet a man named Agarth.  He then distracts the foes, and the doorway collapses behind him, buying you time to cheese it.

Once you turn tail and run you’ll eventually come across a Rock Troll, who acts as the first boss battle.  He won’t be too hard to defeat, so just use what you’ve learned and you’ll come out alright.  When he’s good and dead, you’ll be brought outside the Well, where you’ll have about 45 minutes to complete main or side quests, or simply explore the world, before the demo will end.

At this point, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is looking like a game to watch out for.  The small bit of story present is enough to get a fantasy fan like myself excited, and the simple yet engaging combat mixes with it incredibly well.  All in all, it’s a title I’m very much looking forward to.  The game drops on February 7th in North America and three days later on the 10th in Europe, and the demo is available now on both Xbox Live and PSN.

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January 25, 2012 - 8:30 am