Just when it looked like the grandiose Skyrim and the irreverent Fable had sewn-up the whole open-ended fantasy RPG thing, along comes Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Reckoning valiantly tries to occupy the middle ground between the black hole of time that is Skyrim and the silly inventive charm of Fable, yet it’s actually rather hard to spot anything truly distinctive about it. Its story of a hero who rises from the dead to save the day is intriguing but too traditional to be genuinely memorable.
The game itself is an echo chamber for other RPG games. The influence of World of Warcraft reverberates around the quests, and the visuals will resonate with Fable fans.
The combat is Reckoning’s finest feature – an addictive cocktail of hack and slash action that nicely balances hacking and slashing with tactics – but even that brings Fable II’s streamlined swordplay to mind.
This sense of familiarity is Reckoning’s greatest problem. Look at any part of it and the game just feels like a follower – a game designed by committee that replicates because it doesn’t have enough of its own to say.
However, when you step back and forget avoid nitpicking, the game’s familiar take on the fantasy RPG gels to create something that is actually rather satisfying and fun. Its classy combat and decent pacing provide just enough hooks to keep you going, even though it won’t inspire Skyrim levels of devotion or leave anyone with as many memorable moments as Fable.
But give Reckoning a chance to suck you in and within a handful of hours the initial skepticism will melt away to reveal an enjoyable, if straightforward, RPG that doesn’t demand total commitment to the cause or overdo the fart jokes.
If ever there was proof that a game doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be good, this is it.