The conceit of fate continues straight to the belly of the game in the shape of Reckoning Mode - the title's heavy-duty time dilation ability that has you "unravel" the destinies of enemies when fully charged.
Similarly, Amalur's emphasis on flexibility means crafting allows for old armour to be broken down and recycled into constituent parts to be reused for new designs if you ever decide to see a Fateweaver to reset your ability trees and have another pop with a different style of character.
Each zone has its own role call of fauna, ranging from ogres to variations on traditional supernatural fare like goblins. The wildlife is more fantastical than what you stumbled across in Skyrim, but there's still a degree of naturalism to the world of Reckoning when you spot certain species fighting against each other on road sides as if battling for territory.
This all combines to make up a main quest line that lasts over 25 hours, and Reckoning is bolstered further with hundreds of side and faction quests.
Still, somehow despite all this life the various kingdoms of Amalur are largely characterless. There's a pervasive sense of impersonality to the world: NPCs are wooden and strange, often unblinking and corpse-like during cutscenes. Their conversations can seem awkward in the context of the scene - my ageing, moustachioed hero has been referred to as "young one" enough times to baffle. Reckoning is more Westworld than Skyrim, a game that can feel more automaton than lifelike.
While Todd McFarlane's work as art director helps provide some limited level of comic gore and style to the fight sequences, overall Reckoning still seems to hearken back to an all-too familiar art direction particular to Blizzard, with its palette of primary colours, vaguely cartoon style, and even quest hubs and exclamatory markers that wouldn't look out of place in World of Warcraft. Add into this some basic BioWare-styled conversation wheels and you begin to get an idea of the difficulty of seeing the essence of Reckoning through its myriad slate of references.
Look deep enough and the spirit is there, however, with a mix of mechanics and lore that successfully ties Reckoning's ruminations on fate to the workings of the genre.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's wholly undiluted overview of Western RPGs often amounts to a beige concoction of a thousand blended fantasy worlds, but it's also a testament to 38 Studio's inherent knowledge of the genre. It's a workmanlike interpretation of what makes an RPG tick, placing a spotlight on all the right mechanics and features that most titles struggle to perfect. Regardless of the game's bland exterior, Reckoning is considerably well crafted.
VideoGamer.com Score8 Score out of 10
- Massive explorable environment
- A thorough knowledge of the genre
- Struggles to develop its own identity
- Highly cliche’d