As you might already know, the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo recently went live on Xbox Live, PSN, Steam, and even Origin. With all the numerous bugs and glitches aside, the game was a blast to play. With such a amazing development line-up featuring the bestselling author R.A. Salvatore, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lead designer Ken Rolston, Kingdoms of Amalur gives any RPG gamer something to look forward to this year!
Before I go off uncontrollably expressing the things that I loved most about the demo, I should first cover the many glitches that seem to plague the demo. It would be careless of me to not point out that I had to reinstall the demo twice for it to work, only to run into another game crashing bug that halted my experience right in it's tracks.
After multiple trial and error attempts, I finally figured out that a bug with the "post processing" graphical feature on PC was what kept me from playing the game. I had to turn off this feature in order to play. Beyond that, I found some other blatant glitches in regards to dialogue sequences being cut short or skipped entirely, many NPCs were missing heads, and the audio seemed to cut in and out on a frequent basis.
Bugs and glitches aside, what I saw in the demo seemed to have a lot of potential that was clearly visible throughout the demo. A unique are style that reminded me of World of Warcraft, a 10,000 year old history which could allow for a very deep and rich world/storyline, and a great cast of voice actors were all present in the demo.
The demo kicked off with a short, narrated cut-scene in the beginning of the demo that sets the stage for the story of the game. It depicted a ongoing conflict between the evil empire of the Tuatha and the mortal armies of Amalur .A soldier of the latter, you begin the demo dead, an experiment for a scientist who has plans on resurrecting you with the "Well of Souls."
Before the experiment miraculously succeeds, you are thrust into a character creation screen that forces you to choose one of four classes. The two humanoid classes to choose from are the Almain, a warlike and religious people, and the Varani who are seafaring mercenaries.The other two are known as the Fae, whom are elves in layman's terms. The two options are either the Ljosalfar, an ancient race from the frozen lands of the North, and the Dokkalfar who place emphasis on magic and diplomacy.
After picking your race, you'll have to select a "patron", or god, that will endow you will special abilities relative to their expertise such as +5 physical damage and armor. Once you are finished, you can pick a name for yourself and the journey begins!
Your character wakes up in a pit of rotting corpses and takes the sword from on of the many skeletons at your feet. The following sequences serve as a tutorial for the game's enticing combat system that reminded me a lot of how the Witcher 2 played, but Amalur's was a hundred times better and more innovative. The ability to swap between melee, casting, and ranged was an exciting treat.
Tutorial complete, you'll come across a Gnome named Encel after saving him from two Tuatha guards. Ironically enough, he was one of the two Gnomes that dumped your dead body into the corpse pit in the cut scene at the beginning of the demo. After a brief sequence of dialouge, I found that the game doesn't allow your character to talk. This isn't too big of a deal, but one that I know will begin to annoy me as the game treks on.
Encel tells you to locate Professor Hughes who will examine your “coming back from the dead” situation further. A short skirmish through the laboratory will see your character slice down both Tuatha soldiers and giant spiders! Upon finding Hughes, you learn that you are the first success of “the Well” experiment, a project he underwent to bring back the dead. He tells you that the Tuatha must've figured out his plans and are here to shut him down.
Eventually, after a long fight though the tower, you escape the laboratory in one piece and emerge into the world of Amalur. From that point, you are given 45 minutes to explore the areas of Allestar Glade, Gorhart Village, and Odarath. This was one of the best parts of the demo. No matter where you go, there are always caves to be discovered, surprise quests, and different enemies to fight down. The experience was so fun that I can't wait to see what the rest of the world looks like.
After battling a couple of foes out in the real world, I learned that many of the tactics I've used in other RPGs were useless. The game heavily embraces the use of regenerative potions for healing. While there is regenerative health, it is very slow and I was far to impatient to wait and watch that red bar slowly fill up.
The class progression system was a neat, streamlined and fun system that allows you to improve weapons and combos that were given to you in the tutorial upon leveling. You can also level through three main abilities, Sorcery, Might, and Finesse, and each weapon or ability within these classes has its own separate skill tree. To even further narrow thins down, there are three "destinies," or classes, to chose from including Brawler, Rogue, or Acolyte. Leveling up will allow you to gain new abilities and powers.
In summary, the demo was very fun apart from the many bugs and glitches that I found almost everywhere in the game. The story seemed solid and the gameplay was a blast to experience. The class progression system was also a neat and exciting perk that allows for a fairly deep character from the get-go. Amalur seems to be everything I was hoping for and then some!
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will see a full release in North America on the 7th of February, and a European release on the 10th of February.