Note: This is the PC version of this game and not the PS3 - I cannot review it under the PC version because, according to the site, I have already reviewed it for which I haven't.
When you have a former major league pitcher conjures an idea of making an epic RPG, its strikes a little odd having this dramatic shift. I guess there’s no harm in that however stepping into unmarked territory can be a daunting task. However Curt Schilling decided to do just that and formed his own ‘dream team’ to get the job done. And what a team he gathered as he obtained writer R. A. Salvatore to create the game’s ten thousand years worth of history, Spawn creator and a vivid baseball fan Todd McFarlane, Elder Scrolls / West End Games (and many others) champion Ken Rolston, you have a talented top level development team. The net result was a decent action RPG however its direction is slightly confusing from start to finish.
The Kingdoms of Amular can be deemed as an action RPG. Not in the style of Diablo however more of Divinity 2 where the world renders in full 3D. There’s no stats management however there are skill trees which are not exactly comprehensive. Think of it like Mass Effect where you need very little of forward planning. You start off with a classless hero and what’s unique about this hero, comparing to the other folks in the game, is that your fate is not set. And that forms the basis of this game as everyone’s life is dictated by fate. And because of this you are free will to choose whatever class you want and even swap / change classes at any time (with a small price though).
The game has your three stock standard classes being the warrior, mage and thief. However, because of you having no fate, you can combine them in any way you wish. You can even play all three classes all at the same time so the game is quite flexible with its character creation. Even if you are unsure what to choose from, the game eases your decision by playing out the three classes during your first mission with hints aiming to assist your decision. Of course, veteran RPG players may shun with this however I feel it’s a great idea combining the mission / learning what each character class can do.
Yet arguably, the strongest point of this game is the combat system. Everything from the warrior’s smash with the Warhammer to the mage throwing chakhrams to the thief’s backstabbing with multiple thrusts always places a satisfying feeling, no matter how easy the opponent is. And you want more and more of this wonderful combat system as every class and every skill has its own very cool animation to match. Seriously, the combat is that deliciously addictive that you need to go on rehab to cull the obsession. And because the game encourage you to combo your attacks, it’s a drug that too difficult to stop.
However this is also where the game falls down as well. As much addiction you have during the combat sequences, the battles are few and far between. There are patches of enemies to knock off however they rarely go beyond four at one time, unless you are fighting a boss battle. Thankfully but much later on, you can enter a tournament where combat is plentiful if you need to satisfy your hunger for combat. Also monsters do respawn however not that often to cause too much grief. And why complain anyways as you get to use your skills in style.
Yet the highlight of combat is going into reckoning mode. Once obtain enough fate points, you can enter this mode thus receiving a lot less damage yet ditching out a lot more. Everything runs in slow motion as the concept is your character manipulating the threads of fate. The ideal use of this mode is for bosses and not for trash mobs as bosses, you can get extra experience points whilst trash mobs, virtually nothing. To gain fate points is to kill mobs – the fancier, the faster you earn.
The main plot, the Crystal Wars is always in the forefront however as the game progresses, this plot tends to sit on the bench (excuse the pun) and here’s where the game confuses itself. Being a single player game, you cannot help but feeling it’s more designed as a MMO. There’s nothing wrong with that however, because the main plot line somewhat disappears from sight, most likely you’ll forget why you are there to begin with. The world itself is deceptively large and separated into many regions. Each region has its own story to tell yet doesn’t effectively link to the main plot line. So my suggestion here is to concentrate each region as its own storyline and try not to think about the main plot until you reach Klurikon.
So there’s no denial that the world is rich with lore. In addition to this, there are lore stones scattered everywhere further enhancing the lore as well as books to collect. I highly suggest to read the novels and listen to all the lore stones to fully appreciate the effort put in to create this fantastic world. However I feel that the lore itself can be better off told via a physical novel (or set of novels) than a computer game and this is where, I believe, the confusion kicks in as there’s so much a computer game can do comparing to the almost limitless imagination arriving from reading a novel.
There are other activities to do other than combat. You can harvest regents to make potions, create armour and weapons, socket weapons, pickpocket, create gems and so on. However any of these activities are based on your skill level so naturally the higher, the better chance of doing those activities. And if you feel that you chose the wrong skill, for a fee, you can reset them. Personally I feel that blacksmithing and detection are the skills of choice, especially detection otherwise you will miss out some of the cool features this game can offer.
Visually the game is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Feels like a Fable game with that cartoon look however don’t let that deter you in any way. Also the game is well optimised as my graphics card did not scream in terror when running at the highest settings (GTX 480). All the characters are fully lip-sync and every person you’ll meet has a spoken dialogue. It even goes beyond that as almost every person you’ll meet has something different to say instead of churning out the same words over and over again. Charming musical scores to match, you can tell it has a very high production value.
Speaking of value, the game is deceptively large only due to the fact that, because every word is spoken, the length to complete naturally increases. I’m not sure what’s the total amount of quests are however I can safely say it’s beyond two hundred with about over a hundred locations to discover. I took around two hundred hours to complete however I’m the world’s slowest player so I feel it should take an average person about one hundred and that’s including side quests – naturally shorter if you stick to the main storyline however that will be a waste considering what this game will offer.
The Kingdoms of Amular: The Reckoning is certainly an ambitious project. Making a single player game that feels like a MMO, there’s no issues with that however it can cause confusion when playing. I feel that this game was meant as a MMO however, whatever circumstances it may be, went along as a single player game. In addition to this, the storytelling, even though it’s well thought out, will play out better as a novel than a computer game as there are parts where it drags on (e.g. The House of Ballads quest line).
So you have this double dilemma here – if you play just for the main quest line, you’ll miss out on a lot of content that this game have to offer. Yet, if you want to do everything, prepare to be confused with the mishmash storyline as there were times I just want to finish off the Crystal Wars (as everyone in the game tells me how terrible it was etc). It was like I just want to get on with it. So if you want to complete the entire game with all its goodies, I suggest to treat each region as an adventure in itself, even though the vast majority of times bears no relation to the main plot line. Yet, once you arrive in Klurikon, then worry about the main plot. This way, you will thoroughly enjoy this game like I did.
7.5 / 10