Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review (PC)

Updated Mon, Feb 27, 2012 by Ethec

38 Studios and Big Huge Games are hoping for a big win with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Fans of Copernicus – the upcoming MMO set several hundred years in Reckoning’s future – are too, since solid sales will lead to a much smoother launch of 38 Studios premier MMO.

Is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a true twist of fate - a great action RPG experience and a story-rich introduction to the biggest new IPs of 2012? Find out in Ten Ton Hammer’s latest review!


Reckoning’s “realistic fantasy violence” has a fair amount of blood, but ascribes most of its realism to the Todd McFarlane touch. Execution animations are less gore and more realism – pull off a spider’s head or drive a Brownie’s body onto a spike of fate energy and you can almost feel the cartilage and tendons snapping.



Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, like any RPG, is defined by quests. What makes Reckoning a star of its genre is that the sheer number of quests - and, as importantly, the pacing of quests - is just about perfect.  Side quests and faction quests are interesting enough – the House of Ballads faction quest was particularly affecting – and the main quest never felt urgent enough to make me rush through the side attractions.

The boss fights – usually the underwhelming pitfall of a game this size - have been surprisingly varied, incorporating both standard scripted encounters, staged God of War-style gargantuan boss fights, and even a few novel affairs such as a running gunfight of sorts.

Reckoning aptly sets the stage for its surprisingly varied boss fights.

Combat, coupled with fluid and imaginative animations, is half of Reckoning’s formula to keep a very lengthy game from ever becoming a grind. The moves (combos) are simple enough for just about anyone to master, and are just enough to keep the game out of pure button-mashing tedium. Weapons such as the chakrams, the daggers (coupled with stealthy CoD-style execution moves), and hammers add style points and variety

As for the other half of Reckoning’s patented anti-grind formula, Big Huge has put together a surprisingly varied slate of quests. While many quests were accessible and familiar to RPG or MMO players, few ventured into the droll territory of traditional fetch or kill-x-troll-shamans quests, and the ones that do keep you moving forward through Amalur’s gorgeous and varied landscape enough that you probably won’t notice.

Having too many quests isn’t a problem, but not being able to see multiple open quest markers on the world map quickly becomes irritating.  Unlike a newer MMO, where you can see a number of quests in a given area and plan your evening accordingly, Reckoning forces you to dance between the quest log, the local map, and the world map to determine which quests can be done on the way to what you really want to do. It’s a stumpy process that can lead to a fair amount of backtracking.

UI problems carry over into crafting. On the whole, crafting in Reckoning is a modest improvement over other RPG games: skill determines the likelihood and opportunities you have to gather ingredients, the combining process is simple, and the outcome is never in question. I like that components weigh nothing, so you only need make what you need for your next dungeon run. Several UI inefficiencies start to get peevish – not being able to see what open sockets are available for gem shards as you’re Sagecrafting, for example – but the overall process is far more comfortable and straightforward than in other games of Reckoning’s ilk.

Character development has its own twists as well. It’s largely a matter of distributing points – one into non-combat skills, five into combat skill trees (finesse, might, or sorcery) per level – then choosing a destiny. A destiny is sort of a class you choose after you’ve allotted your combat skill points., which seems backwards from most RPGs but works nicely; heightening the powers you’ve already elected to take.



We first heard the term “stylized realism” from 38 Studios’ own Thom Ang at Comic Con 2008. Since then the term has come to be closely associated with World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, but the term could easily apply to a number of games pre-dating WoW: Fable, Black and White, and Zelda: The Ocarina of Time just to name a few.

So while comparing Amalur to Azeroth is tempting, both games offer a visual style that belongs to gaming, not just Blizzard. Reckoning comes into it’s own when you look at its innovative character models (boggarts, leanshes, and trolls) and devastatingly kickass combat animations in particular.

True, Reckoning uses a bright palette like all of the above-mentioned games (and in stark contrast to the greys and browns of Skyrim), but Amalur comes off as a much more warm and inviting setting than most games in its genre. From story to environment design, R.A. Salvatore promised a world we’d want to save, and Reckoning delivers.

It takes artistic skill to make a corpse pile look pretty.

While Reckoning nails the setting, character models, and combat animations, the game’s facial animations during NPC dialogue (not cutscenes) are awful. Reminiscent of Geoff, the robot skeleton sidekick on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show, the jaw moves as the character speaks (albeit barely), but the rest of the face remains lifelessly fixed.

Considering how natural and fluid animations are throughout the rest of the game, lackluster facial animations are especially jarring. Since KoA: Reckoning uses the same facial animation software (FaceFX) as titles like Batman: Arkham City, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, this might be an error in implementation that can be ironed out in future patches.



Composer Grant Kirkhope has been away from the games industry since 2008, and we’re lucky to have him back. More classically trained and focused than many composers in his field, Kirkhope happily reintroduces mood-inducing elements of his craft. For example, lower woodwinds such as the bassoon were musical agents of the fantastical ever since Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf (or Looney Tunes, if you prefer). Somehow game composers have largely forgotten that in an avalanche of Wagnerian brass, but thankfully Kirkhope (along with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) weaves these and other underused elements into his musical tapestry without the sound seeming cheesy or dated.

While Reckoning’s two and a half hours of orchestral music is perfectly paired with scenery changes and boss fights and other elements of the game’s audio design shine (the steady wet thump of mill grindstones and the lute music peeling out into village squares from taverns, for example), but Reckoning’s voiceover dialogue borders on immersion-breaking.

Voiceover should have been the value added portion of the story experience. Throughout development, Big Huge touted the game’s 30,000 lines of dialogue (despite a mute protagonist) and VO direction as a strength of the game. Instead, too few actors covering too many parts, but overdone accents, neighborly-sounding Tuatha foes (did the ghost of Mr. Rogers voice these guys?), and a general lack of grit and gravel in voices (coupled with the facial animation problems mentioned above) – all of these frequently take away from an otherwise compelling story experience.

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I found the movement and action combos clumsy and unnatural for a PC gamer. If I were an Xbox player, which I avoid, then maybe it would seem more useable. PC games should have mechanics like all the other PC games and not be a simple port of console movements. This was really a shame as I like questing and this appears to be very good in that category.


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Why do you keep calling this an MMO? It's a single player RPG.

after installing KOR, running the application shows “run administrator window” after I press ok, game don’t start. how can i fix this? tnx!

after installing KOR, running the application shows “run administrator window” after I press ok, game don’t start. how can i fix this? tnx!

I like the review and some of the commentary. Not so hot about the bickering between posters. Please keep the bickering off the site so real players and gain real insight.

Excited for the game.. gonna buy it.


If you aren't interested in a fan-boi review, pass over this...

I'm head over heels for this game!! The graphics are eye-popping IMO, some people calling them "cartoony" really mean "style"... Seriously, you won't find more amazing graphics in an action RPG.

Also, I take a bit of issue with someone above (maybe even reviewer) giving sound a low score...Sound in this game is so spot-on "atmospherically" that it's job as immersion facilitator is fulfilled.

Everything, and really EVERYTHING in this game is head and shoulders above anything previous, no joke:
1. Crafting (alchemy, blacksmithing, gems) has drawn me in and won me over when I have in other games spurned is as time consuming and boring, but its so accessible here its fun and the crafted items are rewarding -- I mean you can name the weapons you craft (I made some daggers I named "Seepers")
2. Inventory management huge win, simply being able to add items to a "Junk" section for easy selling is genius and will forever be the norm.
3. Skill trees are very intuitive, and every point spent on a skill has a noticeable effect on gameplay.
4. As has been said, the story is crafted by a real story-teller and true veteran...
5. Again, the
6. Huge variety of monsters and every type of monster has 2-3 or more of their own distinct abilities...It has been since probably my first dungeon crawl ever that a giant rat has grossed me out and given me chills the way giant rats do in this game...and that's just the ground level monster...Giant spiders in this game can toss a web at you, which if it connects encases you...You gotta tap mouse1 repeatedly to free yourself...not super hard but yet another mechanic to mess with...
7. Combat...I've only played rogue, but it is super have so much control and there are many many ways to conduct every battle, from a pack of wolves to double headed lightning casting, ground pounding aoe ogres!!!! And I'm really only like 20% into the game!!! One of the things that killed Skyrim for me was that the combat was so stilted and stiff...Combat here is exciting and dynamic and enough can't be said about it...
8. Lorestones...I mean, genius...its things like this that will contribute to making KoA a legend...You are wandering around and you come across a clickable glowy stone, whereupon you get a snippet of a ballad, sing-songy narrator and dulcimer (or w/e)...each zone has its own set, and when you collect all 5 (or 10 or however many of that type) your character gets a bonus of some sort (like +5% crit or w/e)...
9. Achievements...just for fun, and giggles
10. Sweet maps
11. Amazing graphics (again!)...for instance, started this one dungeon, passed a largish pool of water, in it were colorful coy-type fish and deeper, some weird jellyfish...gave me the creeps for real.
12. The reckoning system...basically when you have enuf Fate stored up you enter a type of Matrix-mode -- you're powerful and all is slow motion...then, if you do it right you get a kick ass finishing move which is portrayed as a mini-cinematic...gotta see them, so bad ass haha.
13. The DEPTH of this RPG is honestly mind-boggling...
14. Very fast load times. Seriously, this has been a real pain in the ass with some recent games...I can get into KoA in about 30 seconds from launch...reloading save games take about 2-3 seconds...I'm so glad for this, as it has seemed that developers have been trying to fasion a new norm in having you wait 60 seconds for a load...I could list at least 5 current games that suffer from this.

Hell, I could really go on and on...If you are a vet and fan of RPGs you must play this game, period.


Agreed!! Fantastic game!


KOA probably has the best combat system I've played in a recent RPG and this title is worth every penny spent.

I purchased Skyrim when it came out but just couldn't get into it. The Combat really ruined it for me. Feels like a downgrade from Morrowind/Oblivion. I have to agree with the one reviewer below that it possibly has the worst combat system I've played in recent years. You can make a game look fantastic and have a great storyline, but if the combat sucks that just kills it for me.

Both games have great graphics and an epic setting. Both games have 100+ hours of gameplay. Both games have repetative tasks/quests/dialogs, both games have sections where you may have to "grind". Its expected from an RPG these days and we all know that NO game is perfect.

As far as graphics go, they are in two completly different styles and can't really be compared, both have excellent graphics however for their chosen style.

The real difference here though is COMBAT. When it comes to the inherent combat systems...

KOA 10 out of 10
Skyrim 2 out of 10

I know some of you will jump down my back for saying this, as I have read the comments below and can pick out the haters in the crowd. I did however remember to state IMHO (In MY humble opinion, not yours).

Pick up a copy of KOA, unless your a hater of fantastic, epic RPG's with fluid, free flowing combat. You will not be disapointed, like some of us have been with other recent epic RPG's.

Yay! For Big Huge Games paid shill!

Ignore most of these user comments folks. They're all written by the same guy under different user names. Notice the similar grammatical errors? Yeah.....Obvious.


I really liked your review. I do want to say, even though it may have already been said, that you can junk items and equip them directly from the UI that comes up when you loot, at least you can on PS3. triangle to junk and square to equip. No need to go into the inventory menu at all!

I am having a lot of fun with this game and I am very happy to see so many other gamers are enjoying it as well.

I'm about 30 hours in and must say that this is by far the best action RPG I've ever played. Probably the best combat system in an RPG i've played, and the RA Salvator made story line is awesome and keeps you engaged and wanting more.

I won't compare it to Skyrim directly, as its already been done on every review site anyway. I will point out the flaws I found in both game tho. They really are completely different RPG style games. However I've now played both and IMO based simply on FUN FACTOR:

KOA: 9/10 - It loses a point for sometimes bad camera angles and the fact that at hour 10 I got trapped against an NPC a table and a wall. The NPC would not move and I was "stuck" even after saving and reloading I remained "stuck" the only way out was to kill the NPC thus resulting in the loss of his big loss as it was a sidequest (there are hundred of these) and I ran away after so I didn't have to take out the entire village. Bummer but not a game breaker....hopefully a patch will fix this unmovable NPC issue.

Skyrim: 7/10 - Also a great game, but loses points for a very lousy combat system, inability to use anything from a pouch if I don't already have it in my hands, drab and boring color skeme, as most bethesda published games it is glitchy glitchy glitchy and like other reviewers said allows you to craft endgame content before even reaching lvl 15. Extremely repetative NPC interactions and Speech lose it another point. Oh and you can't actually see your character, what's the point in equiping some really cool armor, if you can't even see it??

Everyone will have there own preference on what style of action RPG you prefer, but for me, KOA is the best action RPG to hit the shelves since...Mass Effect 2. 3rd person is the way these game should be made, getting to actually see your armor upgrades and character changes is the only way to play....First person is for shooters that don't have armor upgrades and MMO's where even if you can't see it, you can at least show it off.....

Very excited for MassEffect 3 and getting to use my KOA content with Shepard.


KoA should lose more points for the emotionless Fixed facial expressions that actually got super annoying after 40 hours of play ...

i actually don't think i can bring myself to finish this game ... i would say that its a 7 or an 8 out of 10 .. definitely not a 9 imo

for those who can look past the lack of facial expressions .. good for you .. i thought i could but in the end it annoyed me to hell and back and ive moved on to other games.

KoA should lose more points for the deftless Fixed facial expressions that accually got super annoying after 40 hours of play ...

i actually dont think i can bring myself to finish this game ... i would say that its a 7 or an 8 out of 10 .. definatly not a 9 imo

for those who can look past the lack of facial expressions .. good for you .. i thought i could but in the end it annoyed me to hell and back and ive moved on to other games.

Can't actually see your character? Do you even own Skyrim? LOL! And what in the world are you talking about in regards to not being able to use anything from a pouch if it's not in your hands?

And please relate some of the "repetitive" NPC interactions you mention.

The attempts to bash Skyrim in some of these comments is laughable at best.

you go right ahead and be a fanboy for skyrim. it sucks. i want my 60 bucks back period. I am glad i waited to see if this game would be more appealing and now I am sure it is I will be buying it soon. Since you love skyrim so much how about you pay me my money back for it.

How could you have waited for this game to come out to see if it was more appealing? Waiting implies that you didn't make a purchasing decision beforehand. LOL.

Watching you Skyrim bashers embarrass yourselves is infinitely amusing. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if you wrote most of these reviews.

360 Version Played...

Just off the top: 5 retardedly repeated lines from skyrim....and oh there are many many many...

"What you learn here will last you a lifetime. Several, if you're lucky"
"Let me guess - somebody stole your Sweet Roll"
"I am sworn to carry your burdens."
"Do you get to the Cloud District very often? Oh what am I saying, of course you don't..."
"I got to thinking, maybe I'm the Dragonborn, and I just don't know it yet."

Skyrim has 2 hot keys and the extremely annoying favorites menu. If you enjoy leaving fluid combat to enter a freakin menu every time u want to change what is in either your right or left hand (cast a spell vs Equip a sword)....retarded...Skyrim probably has the WORST COMBAT SYSTEM ever designed.

And how exactly did you miss that skyrim is in FIRST PERSON 99% of the time, did you actually play this game at all or just view some trailers??

Your response to the original post is laughable at best....

Like I said, you haven't played the game or you played for five minutes. It's blatantly obvious, as are you laughable attempts at trying to bash the game.

Let's break down those five, (oh so) repetitive comments you mentioned:

Two of those comments come from guards, whom are irrelevant characters..............You do realize that there are hundreds of guards in this game, right? Even the guards in KOA repeat themselves.

It's to be expected! LOL! Hell, you don't even know the most repeated guard quip. It even became an internet meme! And I won't reveal it here.

The rest are generic comments from people in the White-Run. The first major city you come too! Lydia is the one who says, "I am sworn to carry your burdens."

Regardless, is that your horrendous list of repetitive dialogue? LOL. You can do better than that, right?

In regards to hot-keys, at least Skyrim presents them in spades. KOA forces you to go back through the inventory system to retrieve favored weapons, plus you can only access two weapons at a time on the fly without going back to your inventory. Only spells and potions can be hot-keyed. LOL. Yet the inferior Skyrim does weapons, spells; shouts, potions, etc.

And Skyrim is an FPS 99% of time? LOL. Which time? Because there is a 3rd Person view, which is accessible from the outset (following the intro) and allows the player to rotate the camera around the player character when their weapon is sheaved. Hell, you can even talk to people from a 3rd-person perspective.

Really, son, this is getting more embarrassing by the moment. Even worse is your replying under different user names and whilst giving the impression that you actually own Skyrim.

i didnt write this review of this game. i appreciate the guy who did write it telling me about it. the fact that you are defending some other game on a review of this game is pathetic. get a life. and as for any grammatical errors they are just laziness on my part for my posts. as for his post who knows. Thanks again for the review I will most likely buy the game. As for waiting for a review before purchasing a SMART buyer does that. its the reason most people wait til new tech has been on the market to be sure it works properly. I can name alot of tech that didnt work right on the launch (windows, hybrid cars, etc,). always best to wait to see if its worth the hype. Skyrim isnt. This one looks like it will be. Again no one truly knows how he will like anything til he tries it himself. My OPINION about skyrim is my opinion. dont like it move to some other country and get bent or pay me back my money and i will shut up about it. Consumer opinion matters to companies and you wont bully me or the reviewer into shutting up about our opinion. now crawl back under your troll bridges you republican assholes and fuckoff.

How would you know about my comment in regards grammatical errors when my original post didn't even respond to you? LOL. Like I said, you obviously wrote most of these user comments!

LOL! You brought up Skyrim negatively, no one else did. I find it hilariously ironic that you are accusing someone else of defending Skyrim, yet you were the one who brought it up here first.

So wouldn't that make you equally, if not more so, pathetic? Or did I miss something? Cause the reviewer didn't say Skyrim looked like crap or that it sucked. You did.

What? Have trouble taking criticism for your absurd claims?

And what the hell is that about Republicans? You running for a political office?

BTW, why in the heck would you need to wait to see if this game is more appealing? Your comment implied that you waited for this game over Skyrim. Which means, more than likely, that you don't own it.



Some of the remaining game properties from 38 Studios were sold off during an auction this week but Copernicus wasn’t one of them.

Fri, Dec 13, 2013

Bidders made their offers for the remaining game assets and tech left over of the defunct 38 Studios in the final asset auction earlier today.

News, Official Announcements
Wed, Dec 11, 2013

The auction for 38 Studios’ game assets and IPs has been pushed back to December following “greater than expected” interest.

News, Official Announcements
Fri, Nov 08, 2013

The lawyer charged with selling off 38 Studios’ game IPs wants to delay next week’s planned auction due to “greater than expected interest.”

News, Official Announcements
Wed, Nov 06, 2013

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