First Impressions: Amalur tastes good, but a bit undercooked
I’m knee-deep in Amalur now, a game that I can tell has a rich amount of content and some very stylish artwork. Yet something about it feels just a little…off. Its hard to put my finger on it, but maybe we can figure it out in this round-up of some of the early game’s highlights.
First I’d like to be up-front about this, I really like this game so far. This game exists and takes some big tips from other big RPG franchises like Fable and The Elder Scrolls, but is completely unapologetic about it. Sort of like how Darksiders was about taking from the Zelda formula. I actually respect that in a way. Games steal all sorts of things from other games, you don’t exactly need to do a wink-wink every time the camera slows time down.
But eventually something started to nag at me, the game didn’t really feel all that…complete. At this point of my write-up I again want to say how much I liked the game, but now I’m going to proceed to get really, really nit-picky.
From the menu design, to the cheapy-looking red buttons to the pretty tame-looking map above, nothing feels like it got that last coat of paint (just for reference, compare it to the similar-looking Twilight Princess map, maybe you’ll see what I’m talking about). Admittedly all the pieces of the game feel like they are here and nothing is missing, but it also just needs that one extra layer of finish. It feels a lot like if somebody built you a brand new car and forgot to paint it. Its functional, just not pretty.
And maybe that’s not completely fair, because I love the art design to this game. I can tell a lot of effort was put in to give the game its own, unique colorful look. That’s hard pull off sometimes. But look how boring this dialog box is despite all the way-nice visuals going on around it:
Also my character keeps this constantly stern look to him. He rarely displays any sort of emotion. He actually looks a lot like me when I’m not paying attention to someone talking and all I’m doing is nodding my head mindlessly.
The worst offender I saw long after I had started to think about this subject. The books look awful. I mean Myst journals look far more compelling than this, and that game was made almost 20 years ago!
And I’m not quite so heavily disgusted by this panel, but the inventory screens were also rather boring. It wasn’t easy to compare stats or navigate the menus, but to be fair Skyrim still has the same problem.
So at this point I digress. This was indeed my first impression, that the game is just a little undercooked, but I was having a ton of fun with it, so that must count for something. This isn’t really a complaint about the game’s graphics or gameplay, those seem rather solid actually, but just that lack of polish that could have really set this game apart from the competition.
Ok enough nit-picking, its time to jump back in!