Demo Thoughts: Kingdoms of Amalur

Although the Kingdoms of Amalur demo came out last week, I had to wait until today to download it because I refuse to pay Microsoft for the privilege of ignoring people & getting one week-early access to some games.  But my patience was rewarded & I got to spend this evening checking out the upcoming new franchise.

There are two parts to the demo.  It starts at the game’s opening.  After the opening cutscene, you get to create your character from the four available races (two humans & two elven).  There’s a nice variety in the character creation screen.  Each race has their own unique features, & there are a variety of structure styles to pick.  You can even give your character a facial piercing.  From there, your game starts with your character literally climbing out of a pile of dead bodies & quickly being thrown into the chaos of the ongoing war.

This first section is basically a big tutorial.  I got to try my hand at the different combat styles; Might, Finesse & Sorcery.  Might is almost strictly melee focused, & involves swords, great swords & hammers.  Finesse is the rogue class, & involves stealth, dual daggers & bows.  And Sorcery is your spells, but also includes skills using staffs, sceptres & chakrams (which I didn’t get to try out).  By the time I left the Well of Souls, I had a set of armor for each class, a sword, a shield, daggers, a bow & a staff.  I collected various ingredients & reagents, picked some locks, dispelled some traps & attacked enemies with fate itself.

The second part of the demo begins after you talk to the Fateweaver, when you’re given 45 minutes to wander around the world as you’d like.  I stayed mostly around the starting area, picking up a few side quests from the village & nearby.  I found a cure for a Fae, fought some sprites to help a wolf remove his curse (to look human) & beat up a bunch of bandits to stop them from spreading the fantasy equivalent of a biological weapon.  I also tested out the blacksmith & alchemy systems, as well as stole some things.

By the end of the demo my dark elf had reached level 3, used primarily daggers, a bow & lightning spells to attack, had crafted some nice flaming daggers as well as some leather gloves that increased my health & learned the ability to harpoon people.

The Good & Bad:
     + Combat is fluid & it’s easy to switch between styles
     + You can equip 2 different weapons at a time
     + Magic regenerates fairly quickly
     + Crafting systems are easy to understand (note that I didn’t get to test out sagecrafting)
     + Unraveling enemies’ fates is pretty cool
     + Persuasion options show rate of success
     – Unsure how (if) health regenerates
     – Dialogue system feels a bit confusing
     – The ability screen is hard to read
     – Graphical glitches

My overall impression of this game so far are pretty positive.  I didn’t see any part of the game mechanics that I didn’t like.  My only complaints are that the ability screen (alchemy, dispelling, etc) can make it hard to see what level those skills are at & that the dialogue system is a bit confusing.  Dialogue splits between two screens.  One is for asking questions, which just lists the name of the topic (like “Well of Souls”).  The regular dialogue screen seems to take after Mass Effect.  It’s circular, with options on the left exploring topics more while options on the right advance dialogue.  Positive responses seem to be on the top with negative ones on the bottom.  Switching between to two interfaces was a bit confusing at first.  But I do like that they use color coding & symbols to make options more obvious.  In the questioning screen, the blue lines move conversations forward.  Green denotes a persuasion topic (which also shows the chance of success on the side).  Accepting or declining a quest is marked by a thumbs-up or down respectively.

I also have to speak a bit about the graphical glitches I encountered.  Overall, the graphics are nice.  The art style strikes me as somewhere between World of Warcraft & Fable.  The scenery is nice to look at & character are well animated.  However, I encountered two glitches.  The first was that, while I was talking to an NPC, her animation stuttered & she kept bouncing up & down in place for the rest of the conversation.  The second happened a few times, where after I defeated an enemy their pieces would stretch out over the scenery.  This problem went away when I got close to the object.  Neither are game breaking issues, but I hope they’re dealt with before the final release.

If you plan to get the demo, don’t forget about the unlockable content for both KoA & ME3.

Kingdoms of Amalur comes out next month, & I’ll probably be picking it up some time after it comes out.

– GamerDame


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