Reckoning introduces you to a fantasy story centered on a strong belief in fate. As new as you are to this story, so too is your in-game character. You’re first seen in a cut-scene as a profoundly (and confusingly) well-preserved corpse. You’re wheeled through an unknown, gritty dungeon and dumped onto a pile of rotting bodies, waiting to be burned in the crematory. Already off to a graceful start.

Fortunately for you (and the existence of this 100+ hour game), a gnome by the name of Fomorous Hughes has gone to great lengths to use the Well of Souls to resurrect you. The spell only goes so far, however, because your memory of how you died or even who you are is lost. You wander Amalur discovering parts of the world very slowly, while meeting characters that you don’t recognize but can vaguely understand that they are significant to your character in some way.

There’s an appeal to slowly discovering both the world of Reckoning and who your own character is. There’s obviously a large lore to unravel, which is hugely influenced by complex, spiritual beliefs. You meet strange races of beings who look down on you as a mere mortal, and others who scoff at your lack of knowledge of fate, fortune and the spirits. But you’re still quite evidently a powerful and unique being. People don’t understand what you are or how you might impact the world around them, and it fears them. You defy everything they know to be true, and it confuses you just as much as it does them.

Although fairly derivative of many fantasy RPG games we have all undoubtedly played, Reckoning is such a fully realized world that it’s hard to give 38 Studios any gripe about it. There is a solid, in-depth lore complemented by expansive worlds with colorful, intriguing environments that are matched with thematically relevant enemies. You’re immediately thrown in head first, and if you’re a fan of high concept fantasy like we are, you’ll surely be instantly captivated to want to learn more.

In a very similar vein to a game like BioWare’s Dragon Age, Reckoning integrates a sense of action into the RPG gameplay through mapping your abilities to each button on the controller. Your selected path determines these abilities: tank-like melee abilities, elemental mage damage, thievery and sneaking rogue talents, etc. As a die-hard fan of magic abilities, I had to of course choose to level my elf with mage-like abilities, substituting other character traits where I saw fit.

The beauty of Reckoning is that you aren’t constrained to specific class abilities; you can opt to level where you like. Being partial to magic, I transitioned between the attack that throws a burst of daggers, to a powerful electrical bolt, to spiritual damage and AOE fire effects. The combat is incredibly fun. You’ll almost always be swarmed with enemies, but with these powerful attacks, your shield, and dodge rolls, the hefty challenge is definitely a doable one. Particularly playing as a mage with many spells to cast with their respective animations, taking on mass amounts of enemies is a fun challenge that is simultaneously visually acknowledged by the game.

The various weapons you can use are nothing short of fantastic, as well. They certainly add to the combat when you can decide between multiple kinds of ranged and melee weapons. As a mage, I found it useful to experiment with the typical staves, but I also had access to scepters (pistol-like short-range weapon) and chakrams (twin bladed discs) to hit/slice enemies up with elemental damage. These are just the weapons I found to be most beneficial bonus boosts to the character I had created; you can be a predominantly magic-based character but wield a mace if it pleases you. EA Partners set me up with access to the best (we’re talking purple) weapons. The amount of diversity you can choose between is astounding. I wanted to use every single weapon at my disposal. They are all visceral and rewarding.

We did say that Reckoning feels derivative – which is, to be fair, a hard feeling to shake for any game in the RPG market – but 38 Studios put spins on many of the staples of RPGs that we’ve come to be familiar with. While leveling your character, you don’t choose “specializations” to guide your abilities so much as “destinies.” You can choose to invest skill points in any skill tree, even if they are traditionally ones reserved for other classes. You slowly unlock more advanced destiny cards that provide bonuses to your specific skill tree that you have leveled.

Although currently still quite buggy, particularly the broken map and guidance system, we’re expecting that these should be remedied, as the build we played was pre-alpha. There are some UI designs that I would not agree with - like placing secondary leveling before your primary abilities - but nothing particularly offensive enough to detract from the game. The overall experience is an immersive one; you’ll forget you’re sitting at your console playing a game. You jump into wanting to experiment with your wide-range of abilities, and to explore the cryptic storyline before you while discovering yourself, your past and why you might be dangerous. We’re looking forward to doing just that when the game releases next year, on February 7.