Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Demo Impressions)

When I heard that this game was an attempt to bridge traditional RPG aspects with third-person action ala God of War, I didn’t stay my hand when it came to downloading the demo.  Plus, for your gracious hard drive space, EA gives you a free piece of armor for use in Mass Effect 3, which is an offer that would sting my soul if I failed to do anything about.  That’s the distant future, though.  Let’s focus on Amalur in the now.

Right from the start, I wasn’t digging too hard on the art direction of Amalur – too many of the cartoonish designs aimed for “stylized” and hit “dumbed down”. There’s definite fun to be had if you can stomach the less than pretty graphics.  The game builds its RPG foundation by presenting a streamlined garden salad of popular features gamers have come to expect over the years.  True to fashion, Amalur has you flipping through menus every few items you snatch up, but thankfully equipping and unequipping armor and weapons is a matter of seconds.

The combat comes off as simple – mapping your primary attack to one button – but variety in battle comes from the different kinds of weapons you wield.  Swords, daggers, fireball hurling staffs; all present a distinct feel or, in the case of the daggers, unique abilities like being able to accomplish stealth kills.  As a prolific weapon hunter myself, I hope there’s a bevy of blades to track down and test in a fight.

Without playing the full product, it’s hard to say if the marriage between RPG and hack n’ slash actioner is as unsinkable as Mass Effect’s matrimony between shooter and role-playing.  Amalur’s action feels a little too floaty for my liking and with a February 7th release date looming, this certainly can’t be excused as an early build.

There’s promise here, the market could always use another adventure game to counter-act the six FPS titles that release per minute, but I predict a few cumbersome blemishes will keep Kingdoms of Amalur back from being embraced as strongly as another certain fantasy RPG devouring gamers’ lives.

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