Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo Hands-on

January 18, 2012

News

The highly-anticipated Kingdoms of Amalur demo was released yesterday, and being a huge action RPG fan, I had to try it out first-hand. We all know that demos can be a great metric of how good a full game will be, so if you’re wondering if the demo is worth your time, read on. Please note, this article is for the PS3 version of the demo. Just swap out the buttons for their Xbox 360 counterparts and you’ll get the right idea.

The first thing you’ll notice when you reach the title screen is the amount of unlockable content contained in this demo. Simply for downloading and running the demo, you receive a few freebies: a special Fate Card and Twin Chakram weapon to use in the full version of the game, but perhaps best of all, a special Kingdoms of Amalur-themed armor set for Mass Effect 3! You’ve got to love free swag (we know we do!), but adding in some extra content for Mass Effect 3’s release is just icing on the cake. After regaining my composure and calming down a bit, I plunged into the demo’s Story Mode. You’re immediately treated to a quick introductory movie sequence which explains the world of Amalur. It was pretty simplistic and vague, but served its purpose by establishing the big, bad guy you will no doubt have to bash around during the game. After a quick introduction to the war that’s plaguing the Kingdoms, you find a pair of Gnomes pushing a slab and discussing the person contained under the sheet. You might immediately notice the excellent voice talent of Paul Eiding, but what you see next might shock you even more…

The body on the slab is you! After lifting the sheet, the game segues into the character creation mode, where you can choose your race, appearance, and deity. Like other games of this type, each race is particularly suited to combat, magic, stealth, or a mixture of those. Your deity determines unique bonuses you can choose from, and while it isn’t as expansive as Skyrim’s, the appearance menu lets you change your hair, facial features, and accessories. Once this is over, the gnomes all but finish their report on you, even joking that the only thing left to do is “give [him/her] a name”. Of course, that’s where you come in.

Skyrim it isn't, but it'll do.

After being dumped on a pile of corpses, you awake in horror and try to make your way out of your new environs. This serves as the demo’s tutorial, and does a great job of teaching you the ropes. Soon after your awakening, you get your hands on a sword, learn to equip it, and get to give it a few swings. Combat feels intuitive and engaging, and you’ll be cutting through giant rats and enemy soldiers in no time. Weapons are split into two types: Primary weapons (such as swords) are used with the Square button, and can be used repeatedly to chain together combos. Secondary weapons, such as the bow and arrow, can be used with the Triangle button and allow you to attack enemies at range. You can even charge the button up for a stronger attack. Targeting enemies is easy, and is done for you as soon as you enter the fray and an enemy comes within reach. It’s just as easy to defend yourself as it is to attack; you can hit the Circle button to dodge in the direction of your left analog stick, or hold down R1 to raise your shield (or hands, when lacking one) to block attacks. Obviously, a shield is much more effective.

Watch the pointy bits.

One thing the tutorial does a great job of is letting you try out the game’s different venues of combat. After the sword and shield segment was over, I came across a pair of daggers, a “special weapon for Rogues.” To really drive the point home, the game presented an unknowing enemy in the distance to sneak up on. R2 toggles the Sneak mode, and a visual indicator over an enemy lets you know how aware he is of your presence. After getting close enough without being noticed, you can do a silent execution for massive damage. Suffice it to say that the daggers won’t be as effective in straight-up combat, but it certainly provides an exhilirating alternative to the standard sword-and-board.

He won't be in the sequel.

The final demonstration area of the tutorial had my character switching out blades and armor for a staff and robes, as well as a spiffy new power that let me shoot lightning at my enemies. The flame staff allows your character to perform short-range splash attacks that use no mana. This is a great fall-back when your magic reserves are low, but even more intriguing was its use in exploration; the dungeon contained thick walls of webbing that required fire attacks to burn through and advance. Certain enemies are also weak to specific elemental damage types, so a mage can really exploit these weaknesses to make combat much easier.

Shooting lightning from your hands? Yes please.

After trying out each mode of combat, the character is sent to meet with a scientist who may be able to explain the strange circumstances your character finds himself (or herself) in. From here on out, the rest of the demo is mainly to get you into the story, so I’ll end the preview here. Overall, the demo was an excellent introduction to the game, and I’m absolutely stoked to try the full game when it’s released. In fact, the only negative I have to say about the demo is that the sprint and action buttons are both assigned to the X button. This was a bit tedious when I was trying to speed my way through the dungeon, only to find myself having unwanted conversations with my Gnome follower. Luckily, you can also speed through dialogue with the Square button. But other than that, from the looks of it, Kingdoms of Amalur is shaping up to be an excellent Action RPG title and I want to encourage all of you to try the demo for yourself. Be sure to keep your eye on the game’s February 7th release date!

Did you try the demo? Let us know what you think by sounding off in the comments below!

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About Argus9

Jonathan ‘Argus9′ Zisser has been an avid gamer for over 20 years. His early years of playing the NES with his father helped springboard his interest in gaming, and has eventually matured into an avid following for the gaming industry. Studying Computer Engineering at Stony Brook University also gave him insight into the more technical side of video games. A passionate writer as well, Jonathan loves conveying his experiences and opinions by creating engaging articles as often as possible. More often than not, he tries to break down today’s industry and write editorials that make his readers think.

View all posts by Argus9

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4 Comments on “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo Hands-on”

  1. R17 Says:

    Well this definitely sounds like the makings of a great RPG title. I am pleased to see developers throwing in free incentives aka “Swag” for consumers that download their demos. Great Hands on Argus look forward to you’re review of this game when it finally releases.

    Reply

  2. Don Says:

    I had no interest in Reckoning at all, but I was hearing a lot of interviews that perked my interest. I decided to download the demo and it blew me away. I loved the combat and the bright, colorful visuals. There is no doubt that this will be a must have…I just hope I have the time to play it. In a interview they said the QA Testers in a speed run to reach 100% completion took 200 hours. But at least I will get some sweet stuff for ME3 just for trying out an awesome demo!

    Reply

    • argus9 Says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, Don! Reckoning’s looking like the premiere Action RPG of 2012. And the free shwag doesn’t hurt. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Anon Says:

    The worst parts about the game: clunky and convoluted menu, terrible character motion (it’s like the character is running on ice), and the camera is far too close (should have had a camera change option).

    Apart from that, the gameplay is very fun, the story has great potential, the voice acting is well done, effects look fantastic, looks like it has a HUGE library of weapons, items, and more! I will likely buy and play the crap out of this game 😀

    Reply

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