Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning (Switch) Review
Built on the sales-pitch pillars of world designer Ken Ralston (Morrowind and Oblivion), money man and 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling (also an ex-baseball player), artist Todd McFarlane (the Spawn guy, not the Family Guy guy) and lore writer R.A. Salvatore (the fantasy author so cool he gets two initials). Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning initially launched in 2012 to something approaching fervency for RPG fans. Reckoning was meant to be the first in a new series of games from 38 Studios. However, they went bust soon after release, and the game was lost in the licencing ether until THQ Nordic snapped it up, polished it off, and released this Re-Reckoned version.
There’s little expectation of the boosted graphics and framerate of the other console versions for Switch owners. Still, we do get the full Re-Reckoning release, which includes all the game’s expansions and improvements to date and setting the scene for Fatesworn, the upcoming single-player DLC (which we assume will need to be paid for). In terms of bang for dollar, though, there’s a lot of game here to engage with. The question then becomes whether you can deal with what is by now quite a dated title.
Reckoning hit when the idea of an MMORPG morphed with the semi-open world; single-player RPG was appealing. This does not sit very well in 2021, resulting in an experience that feels lifeless and lonesome as you keep expecting some online player names ArchLordDumbass72 to hound you to help them with low-level quests. As such, the gameplay fusion of Fable meets World of Warcraft is something of an anachronism. There’s just no reason at all to be engaged when you roll into a new village to see a collection of question marks hanging above static NPCs’ heads, knowing that their sole purpose is to stretch out your play via fetch quests and dungeon raids – especially when the map is as vast as Re-Reckoning’s. With so many such towns and villages across it that you will soon lose count.
Of course, side-questing will help level you up. Still, because you start Re-Reckoning with a generous chest full of awesome end-of-life gear, you’ll be so overpowered, to begin with anyway, that there’s no reason to focus on anything other than main quests. The loot feel is not without merit, though, and this is helped by the McFarlane designs, which manage to look chunky, heavy and desirable to see upon your virtual avatar. Menu-hopping is a slight issue, although you can set a circular quick use for potions and the like. It’s still somewhat annoying to click through multiple menus every time you gain new gear, especially as there’s the added complication of primary and secondary weaponry.
Combat is of the action variety, obviously emulating pre-reboot God of War and as such still feels perfectly serviceable and satisfying. I played as a mage and found that some of my cast animations left me vulnerable to enemy attacks at times, but it didn’t take me long to adjust for this slight sluggishness. There’s a general triad of approaches – Finesse, Sorcery and Might – with concordant skill trees for each. You can mix and match quite a bit, and it’s entirely possible to wield a kick-arse mega sword while slinging fireballs. There are also somewhat weakly implemented stealth mechanics, which only come into play during linear dungeon crawls. I found things much more enjoyable when I just engaged with everything aggressively.
As far as this Switch port goes, the overall art design of Re-Reckoning helps it a lot, replete as it is with bloom effects and dream-like fantasy landscapes. While it generally runs fine, I encountered moments of noticeable slowdown with a 30fps frame rate during scripted moments and whenever facing off against multiple opponents. On the Switch screen, during portable play, it feels fantastic to be playing a fully-fledged action RPG with a hundred hours of content. If this is how you plan to play Re-Reckoning, then it’s a great addition to your collection. But if you’re mainly going to be playing docked, the other consoles’ superior fidelity and performance might be worth considering.
There’s also the rather obvious point to be made that if you are looking for a massive, portable RPG adventure, the existence of alternative (and arguably better) experiences in the form of Skyrim, Divinity: Original Sin II and The Witcher 3 mean that unless you are an absolute fantasy fiend you’d likely be better served elsewhere. Of course, if you’ve already scoured these games to their limits, and are inclined to really push into this genre, then Re-Reckoning, especially at its reasonable RRP, would be worth your investment.
+ Massive game plus expansions
+ Enjoyable if dated adventuring
+ Attractive designs and well-written lore
- There are better fantasy games on the Switch
- Some slow-down