Reckoning and (over)empowerment

I finished Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning last night. I don’t always update with retrospective thoughts, but I felt this game deserved some more thoughts thanks to observations that came closer to the end.

We play games for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it’s to challenge ourselves, other times it’s to explore a different kind of world than our own, or experience a new story. Sometimes it’s just to get the satisfaction of building and powering yourself to the point that you can shred through enemies like wet tissue paper. Reckoning is what I’d categorize in that latter camp. Most of the satisfaction comes from crafting your fateless one into this walking weapon of destruction. It’s a great feeling, but being a god starts to feel mundane near the end.

I went for a full Mage class, because that’s generally how I like to play. (I messed around with class combos a little too, but that’s besides the point.) Around the top tiers, you gain the Meteor spell, otherwise known as the “Kill Just About Anything” spell. My mana pool was so large that I could cast it over and over after the relatively short cooldown period. So I basically waltzed through everything but the final battle, which relies on a different mechanic. Even that wasn’t too tricky, since it relied on a pretty easy gimmick.

There’s nothing wrong with a game being easy. Some games are much more fun when you set them to easy mode and enjoy the playground. But over the course of the last, I’d say 4 or 5 hours, nothing posed a challenge. I was just going from place to place, getting missions, wrecking everything, and then moving on. I didn’t even do many sidequests. My ludicrous power came just from the faction and main quests.

So, all in all, good on Big Huge for making an excellent empowerment game. For the next one, I’d hope the end-game enemies are ratcheted up to that sweet spot that makes the player feel powerful, but still challenged. It’s a pretty delicate balance, so I can see how that didn’t work out. And to be fair, they probably didn’t expect someone to spam Meteor over and over. And over.

  • Please, please be a good Spider-Man game.
  • I maintain that the best part of BioShock is that it is a story that can only be properly be told in video game form. Making a movie out of it just seems counter to all my best wishes for the medium, so I don’t mind so much when it hits snags.

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