Why Amalur offers great stories

Beware, there are some nasty SPOILERS lurking in the shadows of this text. If you haven’t finished the House of Ballads quests in particular please do not read further for your own sake. Rabidgames warned you.

Apparently, we suffer a new internet meme. After having taken arrows to the knee for a couple of months, the latest flavour of the day is to accuse Kingdoms of Amalur of having bad writing – mostly by people who skip cutscenes and have no interest in reading about the lore of Amalur because it’s so bad and boring … (how would they even know about it then?)

First, if you are one of those strange fellows who play RPGs and skip story content, why the fuck do you complain when you know nothing about the story? That’s just like whining you suck at GTA because you don’t want to shoot people!

Second, yes, Amalur‘s presentation of the dialogues is old-fashioned, even a bit stale in 2012. A mute character, lots of stuff to read from a simple list … true, Mass Effect does a better job there. But a stale presentation has absolutely nothing to do with story quality, guys. Sorry.

Third, yes, it’s hard to get into Amalur‘s lore. It doesn’t help you start with names and events you have no idea about. And the first quests still leave you an unwitting pawn in a big game of chess. While all this is true, the same could be said about Dark Souls … you’re in a strange world, you know nothing about it, you are dead, too. And Dark Souls got praise for telling its story that way …

OK, back to Kingdoms of Amalur. After a couple of quests and some reading or listening, you realise the main theme of Amalur: Fate.
It is all about the seemingly unchanging fate – and the one hero who is able to bring change to the world. You can choose your fate, and you can choose the fate of the inhabitants in Amalur.

One excellent set of quests which explore the meaning of fate in Amalur‘s world is the House of Ballads. The House consists of immortal Fae who relish their tales not by telling them but by living them again and again. Yet all of a sudden, the villain (imagine a fiend cursed to die again and again … forever) tries to change the game for good. Even better, you realise the House of Ballads is full of actors who are still forced to fulfil their destinies – again and again. And the villain is pretty desperate because she knows she is supposed to die … It’s up to you if you want to kill her or you take her offer to rule alongside her.

Sounds pretty ordinary, doesn’t it? Surely, we have played quests like these … but when? Rabidgames liked the idea of a great cycle of death and rebirth where the Fae are blessed (or cursed) to repeat the same events over and over. How can anyone call it blank or bad writing? The game also tackles philosophical questions like “would you change fate?” or “does change bring hope or fear?” – mind you, Rabidgames hasn’t even finished Kingdoms of Amalur, he is about halfway true, and the only faction Rabidgames has completed is the House of Ballads.

Rabidgames dares you: OK, what is bad about the writing of Amalur? Can anyone tell Rabidgames? The game might not give us the best story ever, but compared to last year’s RPGs like Skyrim, Dark Souls or Deus Ex, it is definitely not worse.

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