key review info
- Game: Krater
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Dungeon crawler experiences have been getting quite numerous in recent months, as Blizzard has already released Diablo 3, while Runic Games is now getting ready to deploy its long-awaited Torchlight II.
In between these two games comes Krater, a squad-based dungeon crawler RPG from Swedish Studios Fatshark and Bitsquid.
With the promise of a post-apocalyptic setting and a special squad mechanic that requires intense micro-management, Krater definitely looks like an interesting blend between dungeon crawlers and strategy games.
Have the two developers struck gold or should they keep digging until they hit pay dirt? Let’s find out.
Seeing as how Krater’s story is quite forgettable, I’m jumping straight to the gameplay that delivers a mixed experience.
First up, if you’re coming to this game after finishing Diablo 3 or other such experiences, you’re in for a much harder time that requires keen strategy skills.
While the game may seem like another dungeon crawler, its gameplay is much closer to experiences like Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II and other squad-based real-time strategy titles, as you always need to micromanage your team of mercenaries.
You squad can be composed of three characters from four classes. As such, you need to experiment before finding the right combination. You can go with the tank-like Bruiser, the long range Regulator, the berserker-like Knife-Looney, and the healer Medikus.
As you progress through the game, the characters level up and you can augment them with different upgrades and implants. Unlike other games that tie you down to a single team, you can hire more mercenaries from the four classes that have better abilities or a higher level cap.
There’s one catch, however, as these new characters all start at rank 0 and have no implants. As such, you need to practically restart the game by going through the first levels and killing enemies once more. While this system may seem novel, this resulting work is extremely tedious and sucks the whole fun out of Krater.
It would’ve been much better to assign XP to a character class and, once you had hired another character, you could have picked up from where you left off, instead of grinding the first few dungeons over and over again.
Combat is also a bit slow and the lack of a tactical pause mechanic makes things even harder once you get passed the first few caves you explore. Each character comes with two abilities plus a special gadget like grenades. All of these are mapped to the number keys and easily occupy the whole row. Thankfully, you can rearrange them, but it still makes taking split-second decisions harder.
Speaking of exploration, this is also a bit tedious as the world map is hard to navigate, but at least the environments are quite pretty and you once again have to deal with random encounters while traveling, just like in older RPGs. The game would have benefitted from a teleport to the entrance of the dungeon mechanic, just like Diablo 3, as you're currently forced to trudge back through levels before reaching the surface.
Enemies offer a serious challenge on normal difficulty and consist of all sorts of things, from animals, mutated or normal, to bandits and other types of humans, each with different attacks and different tricks.
Plenty of other RPG mechanics are present in Krater, from a crafting mechanic that’s a bit clunky, to an upgrade system that relies on you augmenting your mercenaries with boosters or implants found in the game world.
Sadly, the inventory isn’t that great and the tooltips don’t really convey the array of things you can do. For example, it took me a while before figuring out that I can sell items to merchants by right clicking on them.
As of yet, Fatshark and Bitsquid haven’t released the multiplayer component of the game, which should allow players to work together via a cooperative mode. As such, at least until next month when the update is supposed to arrive, Krater is a single-player experience.
Visuals and Sound
In terms of visuals, Krater looks really good thanks to sharp and vivid textures that make the lush environments stand out even more from other gritty RPGs. Sadly, while character design is quite varied, the game always tries to hide the faces of characters behind gas masks and other such things.
Sound-wise, the game delivers a decent experience but it’s not something to write home about. Characters have relatively interesting taunts but they repeat themselves a lot so you’ll soon grow tired of hearing them. Dialog is reserved only for story moments, so most of the time you’ll just be reading blobs of text.
- Lush environments
- Original concept
- Lots of backtracking
- Lackluster story
- No multiplayer at launch
Krater could be a great game, but the lack of resources makes its initial version hard to love. Combat is a mixed experience and there are still quite lot of things that need to be polished, like the squad mechanics, and plenty of things that are missing, like a tactical pause.
Many updates are scheduled to appear but, at least for now, you might want to steer clear of the dungeon crawler.