By Michael Emerson

In this day and age, it’s quite rare to find an original idea. Video games are well into their fifth, sixth or even thirteenth installments when people should be starving for something fresh and new.

That’s where the new game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, comes in and decides to break the post-holiday lull with major innovation. You play a character that you create and choose between four different races, which are just different forms of humans and elves. Your character  has been resurrected by a dwarven invention called the “Well of Souls,”and while everyone else in the world must live to know their destiny, you have no destiny and have the ability to change the fate of others around you.

The first thing you notice when you boot this game up is its beautiful and colorful art direction coupled with the World of Warcraft/Fable-style character design. While the musical score is lackluster, the subtle bird chirps and wind howls will immerse you as you play through each newly discovered area. You start the game as clueless and lost as your character, but soon pick up on the situation and begin to hold your own against the main enemy known as the Tuatha.

The negatives in this game are obvious, but do not hinder you from enjoying the game itself. The voice acting is decent and the characters themselves are expressive, but that doesn’t keep you from thanking the developers for giving players the option to skip some of the dialogue.

Written by R.A. Salvatore, the lore and universe seem refreshing from other fantasy stories enough to warrant a listen, but the lack of engaging characters makes for a pretty basic plot nonetheless.

Although the story and presentation needs more work, the real highlight of the game is its deep and extremely satisfying gameplay. Never has any other game blended third person action with stapled role-playing elements in such a creative, deep, yet simplified way. There are three skill trees you can level up: Might – Physical, sword and shield, Finesse – Stealth and long range; and Magic- Spells and staves. Of course, you can level up in various trees and become a mixture of different skills in order to collect different fate cards that are determined by your preferred skill enhancements. This is only improved by the immense variety in weapons and armor sets that range from steel swords and knight armor, to flaming chakrams and wizard robes. The customization factor is increased after you choose and name the weapons and armor you create, which adds a ton of chances for your imagination to go wild.

To say this game has replay value would be an understatement, between the differing classes, weapons and different factions to pledge your loyalty to. If you were to play this game and do every side quest and faction arc, you would experience more than two hundred plus hours of content worth every penny you might spend. Don’t let this game pass you by, and even if you don’t like the role-playing genre I would whole-heartedly recommend this title just to see how games can be made with a risk and still succeed.