Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo is here!

Is the increased commercialization and cross-promotional advertising destroying the integrity of Video Games? NOT TODAY! Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo was released this week on Steam and even though the experience is a buggy one, first impressions indicate that it is a game not to be missed. In an all time first in the video game industry, players who download and complete the 45 minute demo of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will be entitled to 2 promotional in game items for the highly anticipated Mass Effect 3. These completely unique items are not available in game otherwise and don’t require you to spend a  penny.

Here they are:

  • Reckoner Knight Armor: This armor will maximize damage done in close-quarters combat while a beefed–up power cell feeds energy into weapon systems to increase projectile velocity.

  • The Chakram Launcher: This weapon uses a fabricator to manufacture lightweight, explosive ammunition discs. This weapon is earned after completing the Reckoning demo and watching the trailer at the end.

Both games are being distributed by EA making this type cross-promotional branding possible. Many have debated whether or not this type of distribution marketing is detrimental to the players overall experience- forcing completionists to purchases or play games they don’t want in order to have a more fulfilling experience in the game they DO want to play. Fortunately in this case, by preening to my unruly desire for everything Mass Effect 3 I was thrust into a visceral and exciting experience that left me begging for more.

Would you like the freedom and exploration of “Oblivion,” with the visceral combat and gritty art style of “God of War”? Well the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo falls somewhere in between. Created by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, Reckoning is a mystical action RPG that tries to blend number crunching and conversation options with fluid button mashing and hack and slashes. Reckonings Executive Designer Ken Rolston was a lead designer of both Morrowind and Oblivion- two of the most critically acclaimed games of all time and he promises to bring that same level of vast exploration to this IP.  Another big hitter on the list is Spawn creator Todd MacFarlane who is contributing his unique art style and direction to the game. With a pedigree like this it’s no wonder that Reckoning has been a project on the radar of many in the industry, and today we get a sneak peak!

I was thrust into the world of Reckoning with beautiful orchestral ballads and stunning opening cinematic visuals. Then like 90% of gamers I turned on the subtitles and adjusted the screen resolution. The introduction to the story was normal fantasy fare, so and so needs to kill what’s his face because he’s evil and undead. Perhaps not the most inspiring introduction to a world’s universe but it seems your character is (unsurprisingly) special, you are the first of your kind to awake from the dead. Good thing it seems when you’re facing an undead army. At that point you can create your undead-ish antagonist based on 4 playable races, the Alamain(Noble humans, the Ljosalfar (Light elves), the Dokkalfar (Dark Elves) and the Varani (Nomadic humans). Each race offers advantages to different play-style choices, a greater affinity for magic or perhaps a blustering brute of an axeman. Initially none of these advantages seem incredibly deterministic over ones playthrough, meaning if you choose a magic infused Dark Elf you may still swing an axe with ease. After finding just the perfect degree of beard, I ended up choosing a blue Ljosalfar to take me on my quest. The character creation system is impressive offering up a varied amount of styles and oddities to create any character you desire, without running the risk of moving the slider on the chin option so far left that you accidentally end up with a mutant after spending an hour getting the brow just masculine enough!(looking at you Oblivion). I was then unceremoniously flung onto a throng of corpses by two gnome like creatures looking offensively similar to a certain massive multilayer game. My blue bearded enigma awoke underneath the rotting flesh and I was finally given an opportunity to play!

The PC controls are limiting with  the slightest move of the mouse sending the camera flying. But fortunately that didn’t affect the frame rate which is unusual for games like this. Some minor nit-picks right away are the incessant need for invisible walls, every pathway, every cave had a set journey causing for some hilarious moment of beardy trying desperately to somersault off of a cliff edge to no avail. Another big hit is the lack of a voiced protagonist, in this current generation of role playing games it’s frankly unseemly to expect character to commiserate and empathize effectively with a virtual character without some noises spewing from his blue lips.

Beyond the initial flaws the fighting was very fluid and exciting. Even in the early stages of the demo you have the ability to complete stunning looking animations that really provided a punch to your enemies. It’s always important within hack and slashers like this that you find a certain rhythm or flow in combat and I feel like Reckoning has really achieved that balance. That same balance consists even while creeping behind an unaware victim or snipping off enemies from afar. One of my favourite features is a slight shift in angle of the overhead camera when you are facing multiple opponent, this has been an issue with previous games of the genre, not allowing the player to see where or why he is swinging his axe at a wall now I can always tell why I’m dying! Everything is fast paced and exciting for my every increasing ADD infused attention span.

The demo was only played by many because it gave away free Mass Effect 3 items, that greedy completionists streak that led to me this hidden gem has served me well once again. Explore the world of Amalur yourself on February 7th when the full game is released on all consoles. Until then download the demo and see if the hack and slash play-style is right for you.

To find out more about the game, click Below!