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Kingdoms of Amalur Is The Well-Deserved Re-Reckoning

kingdom amalur re-reckoning splash
Courtesy of THQ Nordic

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

Developer: Big Huge Games, 38 Studios, Kaiko
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: March 16, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Was Dead On Arrival

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a byproduct of a game released and developed during the sunset of a console’s lifespan. Titles released during this time are always the most interesting as they will often be overlooked in favor of existing games. This is, of course, unless your game is part of a franchise. If you’re one of the biggest developers on the market at the time, doubly so. Unfortunately for the original Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, it was fated to fail as the release of Mass Effect 3 was a month ahead of this game’s release in 2012. 

Considering that EA both held publishing rights to Reckoning and Mass Effect 3, the latter was heavily promoted in favor of the former. EA couldn’t completely leave the game out to dry, so the company decided it’d be best to offer incentives to Mass Effect players, offering bonus items for completion of Reckoning’s demo. However, EA’s sights were set on their largest moneymaker at the time and Reckoning was the sacrificial lamb.

amalur gameplay
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Reckoning Was An Underrated Classic

Those who did play Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning were treated to a surprise as the game was the definition of a “sleeper hit.” It combined RPG elements with action-adventure gameplay similar to that of Fable, all the while including witty NPCs and an open world that didn’t limit the player on what they could do at any given time. The game garnered a cult following, especially on Steam, yet low sales meant the original developers went bankrupt. A fate that could have all but been avoided had their original publishers threw so much as a bone instead of a lone crumb of a treat.

Fortunately, THQ Nordic swooped in and took the rights to Reckoning, after EA forced the title to remain dormant for years, re-releasing the game in its remastered glory last year in 2020. The following year, a Switch port was silently released, as what seems to be the case with most games. The decision to delay the Switch port, focusing time and effort to ensure a quality product for the tiny console, proved to be the correct choice as the Switch version holds its own in subtle ways.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning gameplay
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Re-Reckoning Is Reckoning With A New Lease On Life

The graphics in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning on the Switch is on par with the original’s graphics released nine years ago, which may seem like a cheap trick at first, but, hear me out. The handheld market in 2012 was noticeably different than it is now, especially considering that the Vita was Sony’s last hurrah in the industry, but also because the processing power of the Vita and the 3DS were nowhere near close to that of a 360 or a PS3. The fact that a Switch could provide an experience that, in many ways, exceed the original console source on a handheld device proves that when played to its strengths, the Switch is a powerful device in its way.

While docked, the game runs at a solid frame rate and gameplay felt as similar as I remembered playing on the Steam version many years ago. Everything holds up exceedingly well, so instead, I’ll talk about Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning itself as a game. Re-Reckoning’s ability to allow the player to be creative with their builds is one of many reasons why the title became a cult classic, offering players a surprising amount of depth despite how simplistic the controls are. There’s a primary attack button, a secondary attack, a dodge button, a block button, and a button combination to use spells and skills. 

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning gameplay
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Re-Reckoning Allows Players To Be Anything They Like

At the tutorial level, players are introduced to various weapons including a sword, a pair of daggers, a staff, a bow, and their first taste of magic and stealth. The opening level serves as one of the better tutorial levels as it gives players a chance to show what it is the game offers and that players aren’t tied down to a specific class. Players, for example, can take advantage of the stealth kill ability that daggers provide, while using the staff’s elemental powers to prey at an enemy’s weakness. Players can also opt for a frontal assault while picking away ranged targets with a bow. There isn’t a right nor wrong way to play Re-Reckoning as everything is left to the player’s discretion.

The game’s “destiny” system reflects on this as players tied to a certain discipline can dive to a certain destiny, or class, that will further benefit their investments. Players can go full-on mage or rogue, but also combine the two proficiencies to become a mage that dabbles in poison arts. Likewise, a player can opt to focus on all three proficiencies to provide a “jack-of-all-trades” destiny, leaving the player with a challenge.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning gameplay
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Is One Not To Be Passed Up

Overall, thanks to THQ Nordic’s decision to bring an underrated gem back from the brink of death, many players can experience one of EA’s better titles that no one played both in high fidelity and on the go depending on the choice of consoles. Players who are fans of open-world action RPGs will enjoy Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning much as they would in the past, offering a surprisingly in-depth experience for a game released almost a decade ago.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning was released on the PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch.

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