Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an RPG – that much is clear. What is not as clear is how expansive the universe is going to be. During the E3 demonstration, the team at Big Huge Games emphasized that despite the strong focus on fluid action (reminiscent of action games like God of War); Reckoning is still a hardcore RPG at its roots. However, the combat appears more well-rounded than something like Dragon Age II but more deliberate than a traditional character-action game like Devil May Cry. Functional stealth options are also included.
Based on the hands-off presentation, combat looks decisively deliberate and precise, but we’re assured that all of the things that go on in the background of an RPG are happening in Reckoning. This means that there are in fact gnomes in your TV rolling dice to determine how many hit points you have left while you beat up dudes and undead guys. Blacksmithy, alchemy, distinct factions, armor sets and other standard fare RPG systems are of course included.
The absence of a traditional narrative path is perhaps one of the more interesting things about Reckoning. It’s difficult to garner exactly what this truly means, but in a world without an obtrusive “guiding hand” or any hint of a metaphysical dangling carrot, Reckoning looks to make a stylish splash that retains all of the pen-and-paper goodness that make RPGs as meticulous as they are. Hopefully, quests and sidequests are not structured in a traditional branching manner that leaves little to the player other than following giant arrows. The promise of the player character shaping the world as he or she interacts with it is always a difficult promise to keep; Reckoning’s bold approach mashes genres but cusps the underlying RPG elements ever so gently. One thing I wouldn’t have said yesterday: this is probably going to work.