Chances are high that, thanks to some quality time with the demo for Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning, I won’t be getting the full release when it drops next month. Boo hoo. And that has nothing to do with how the game plays, as it’s quite a fun action-adventure RPG with bright colors and the potential to be huge and vast and a total timesink. Nope, that’s all well and good. Alas, it suffers from tiny text syndrome.
Why can’t every game just be like Saints Row: The Third? I mean, when that game tells me to drive a tiger around the city and keep it calm and relaxed by not running into other cars, I can totally read those instructions on the screen with no problem whatsoever. Big and bold font versus what seems to be a growing standard of tiny and scrunched. It’s all I ever want
But let’s start at the beginning. The beginning of the demo, that is. It opens with a lore-heavy cutscene, voiced by a woman that desperately wants to evoke Galadriel telling the tale of those rings forged in darkness. Amalur is a world of many races–gnomes, elves, magical beings called Fae, and smelly ol’ humans–and, from what I can tell, a Winter Fae named Gadflow and his followers, the Tuatha, have decided to kill all the younger races. I think it has something to do with a prophecy. And you, whoever you are. You are dead at the beginning of the game–SPOILERS!–brought back to life by the Well of Souls, something the Tuatha also want to see destroyed. Plot-wise, it seems like you will be investigating how exactly you came to be reborn, as well as get mixed up in all this bitter conflict.
The escape from the pit of dead bodies is clearly a tutorial level, wherein you’ll learn how to use weapons, equip stuff, kill rats and giant spiders, have some dialogue, and fight a rock troll. Afterwards, you are given 45 minutes to explore as much of Amalur as you want, doing whatever you want. The game even makes it explicitly clear that the 45 minutes will pause during dialogue so nothing needs to be skipped. Regardless, I skipped a lot of dialogue; it’s not the game’s strongest bullet point.
The game looks like Fable II and plays like Dragon Age II, and you can interpret that how you like. Vibrant colors abound and combat is fast, heavy on action and rolling. I really like the visuals in Amalur, with all the flowers and colorful trees and billowing grass. Even dungeons look nice and non-gloomy. In an industry washed with browns and grays, it is nice to see something a little brighter, even if it draws comparison to World of Warcraft‘s cartoony style. I did notice some odd quirks during the demo that have me worried about the game as a whole: my avatar glitched in and out of cutscenes a few times and everything seems to glow, which can be overwhelming once outside in the wild.
I mentioned combat is fast, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a play style here for everyone. You can do range with bows and staff spells or stealthy with sneaky daggers or full-on force with swords and such. From the selection of weapons so far, I actually prefer to just go in swinging contrary to my normal stealthy ways. Third-person stealth is always harder to do for me than first-person. The magic spells and Fate Combo Thingies look pretty fantastic, with nice particle effects all around.
By the end of my 45 minutes of free time, I had killed some smugglers, froze a bear to death, found a magical sword, and stole some peasant clothes from a stranger’s house. Y’know…RPG stuff. I liked the demo a lot and can see the potential here, but alas, I won’t be picking it up until I get a new TV, which might never happen. Sorry, citizens of Amalur. Save yourselves.