Upcoming game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the first offering from 38 Studios, a newly formed company filled with an all-star cast of game developers. After months of showing brief bits of the game, players are finally able to get their hands on a demo, which is now available for Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and Steam.
There’s been a surprising amount of hype surrounding this new IP, with RPGers everywhere eagerly awaiting the February 7th release date. With all the excitement in the air, does the demo live up to the standards that journalists and gamers alike have set for the game?
Well, as of right now, it’s a little hard to say. In my experience with the demo, I created a character that I liked, with a customizing system that isn’t massive, but is adequate. Adequate…That’s probably the best word to describe the rest of the demo.
Your character has been raised from the dead thanks to a new technology called “The Well of Souls”, and you fight your way out your underground resting place, running into a handful of friendly gnomes who instruct you how to use the items and weapons that you find scattered about the corridors of the underground body dump. Soon enough, you’re entering into combat with humanoid type creatures and giant spiders, because a fantasy game just isn’t the same without giant spiders.
The combat was a feature that 38 Industries seemed especially proud of, even going so far as to call it “groundbreaking”, in reference to the usual, slow paced combat found in most RPGs. While it isn’t incredibly complex, the combat felt…Adequate. It flowed at an easy to follow speed and a low difficulty level. At your finger tips are a variety of weapons, from staffs to swords to daggers to bows, not to mention, a simple magic spell. The only thing really wrong with all of this is the fact that your ranged weapons, be it bows or magic, seem seldom necessary. All the player needs to do is mash the attack button to slaughter his enemies, with a dash of evasive rolling here and there.
Then again, it’s important to remember how early in the game the demo sets you. I was just barely exiting tutorials by the end, and sneak peeks of the some of the later combat looks really incredible, maybe even enough to fit that “groundbreaking” title that 38 has been talking about.
Anyways, after escaping the underground caverns, I was left with 45 minutes to wonder a bright, colorful and relatively lively land. I ran into a few folks with quests for me, I found a wolf that had been turned into a man and was begging for my aid, and I found a few small forest creatures, practically asking for my twin daggers to pierce their tiny skulls. Sadly, here was where some problems arose: the world didn’t feel particularly special. It felt like a more colorful Fable, with a dash of World of Warcraft. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the demo didn’t offer anything defining for the game. It felt like a mash-up of multiple RPGs, not a new, innovative game. An…Adequate world.
But, I’m probably just being way too critical of a game that has a lot of clear potential. I want to like Kingdoms of Amalur a whole lot, and I probably will. Despite my minor gripes with my ephemeral hands-on experience, Amalur really is shaping up to be a memorable game. For those interested, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning releases February 7th, 2012.
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