Game play - 9
Presentation - 9
Story / Creativity - 8.5
Lifespan - 9.5
Anyone looking for a casual stroll through the end of the world will definitely want to pick up this right now. So what are you waiting for?
Welcome to the world of Krater, or as we used to call it ‘Sweden’.
This role playing game starts off with your transparent-self waking up in the aftermath of what probably was the party of a life time. You are quickly forced to collect your band of three unique lackeys and leave town to seek the fortunes of this lush wasteland.
The first great aspect of Krater is the easy to pick up combat system. The player party consists of three survivors that will do your bidding throughout the entirety of the story which consists of four unique classes to mix and match. This is where Krater starts to really shine as you can play the game just the way you would want to play. Do you want two heavy hitting tanks and a supporting medic? Or maybe you would prefer two ranged shooters and a melee fighter taking all the hits? It is entirely up to you. Not only that but if you are getting tired with your current party members then you can visit one of the many towns in the game and recruit new people to dispense your post-apocalyptic justice. Having the opportunity to tune and build the party of your dreams is a great experience and the great art style really helps you choose your favourite characters while also allowing the lesser ones to still be aesthetically appealing. This is also something I have missed since the old days of Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy where you picked your ragtag squad out of hundreds of different potential soldiers.
While good looking characters are always great in RPGs, the skills of those characters are what will get you far in the land of Krater. Each class has a selection of two key abilities which help benefit the team in some way. May it be area of effect damage, to slowing down select areas of the field, there is always something to keep your team staying in the fight against the dangerous wilderness. The game doesn’t want to hold your hand though and on occasion will force you to experience the traumatic but intriguing effects of the permanent injury system that Fatshark have placed into the game. If you find that one of your gang falls in battle you will eventually be able to revive them, but not without consequence. Revived squad mates will be tormented forever more with the penalties of injuries that will never go aware until their untimely death. If three of these injuries are received then the next KO will force your minion into permanent death and will be gone forever along with all their gear. While a challenging system, it is also a great way to get players to adapt to different ways of playing and the use of skill based tactics, such as having your medic constantly healing your heavy hitter who is playing decoy while your saboteur uses slow down and stun abilities.
The game also offers an easy to learn crafting system if you feel that the three ponged road sign your bruiser is bashing with just isn’t enough. At one point I was able to create a multi barrelled gatling rifle that fired out bursts of blue flame at my adversaries while my little guy firing it was pushed back by its booming recoil. The crafting doesn’t stop at weapons either as you can also create class boosting implants for your party to install under their thick skin. This is all done through a simple process of drag and click operations too, while giving you a good explanation of what something like a plank of wood and a radiated rats tooth will give you.
That doesn’t come without its problems though as using the abilities on the fly can sometimes be a frustrating task with the game’s rather small user interface. I sometimes found that trying to click between skills while in the heat of combat would make me miss selecting certain abilities and forcing the permanent injury system to unjustifiably punish my party because of the small pictures the interface has given me as a tool set. You can work around this though but it will ultimately force you to adapt in using hot keys constantly and being more of a mouse clicker, I found I would stumble at times when trying to remember which number I needed to press on my keyboard when in the thick of things.
I am going to come out and say it now that Krater is a beautiful game. The world Fatshark have made is a true eyesore with its living and breathing forests and its super cool inhabitants. Walking into a town will have you looking down upon the various denizens as they tend to their daily duties and work on cleaning their huts which seem to have been put together with IKEA furniture.
Each town is great to visit and you will find yourself going out of your way at times just to see what the next one has to offer. This is unusual to experience as RPGs generally lack that atmosphere in their town hubs in-between quests but while receiving the tasks from people, I ended up feeling like my little guys were part of the ever growing community. Hunting for monsters can also be a great treat to behold while doing quests as you unknowingly venture into the wilderness’s dark fog only to see your three man party looking up at the Godzilla sized mutant bear which then chases them out of the area. The world in this game is a dangerous place and it isn’t scared to show it either.
This taken even further in the world map which allows you to venture between towns and forest areas. Looking at it now, I could say that it is probably the closest we will ever get to seeing a HD version of what Final Fantasy 7’s open world would have looked like. The detail in this large open environment is something that would even make Skyrim’s world map look jealous.
Between the adventuring you will at times receive cutscenes that help flesh out the story. While not using animated shorts or in-game assets, the artwork used as still images to move along the story is gorgeous at times and the character design used within them helps portray in your mind what the world these people live in really looks like. It is a change in presentation that I feel is welcome in these current types of scripted action scenes and unnecessary filter cutscenes.
While the game starts off pretty slow, it is in no way a bad thing. The beginning’s pacing allows you to take in the game world for the first hour while also getting used to the questing system and menu systems. Slowly but surely the game will occasionally tease of a bigger upcoming plot that keeps you curiously going forward into the games later sections and finding out about the mysterious ‘Center Hole’, a large crater stretches deep in the belly of the planet.
As I mentioned the game uses still images to present further progress into the story through the use of a narrator that is telling his village about the tale of your legendary party. While the story that is given can be a little too small at times, it easily makes up for it with the vivid variety in concept art shown to the player. This is in some ways the player’s story as they are given the option to talk to local inhabitants the way they would like through the use of a multiple choice conversation window. It is something very similar to games like Mass Effect or Deus Ex: Human Revolution where you can be the greatest gentleman or the world’s biggest jerk but still arrive to the same point in the story without any major repercussions for your choice in personality.
Fatshark have done a great job with the musical score this time too with mellow electronic beats accompanying you on your journey across the wasteland’s towns and dungeons. The world that you are engaged in is a place of harmonious wonder as you venture through the vast world map in search for loot and opportunity. Character class abilities sound deadly and destructive as your bruiser slams down on enemies with spine crunching force, or your regulator disables the enemy with a debilitating electric shock. Characters you communicate with express comedic emotion through muffling and mumbles behind their tightly strapped gas masks, while your own gang shout out popular movie, video game and internet memes that will leave a smile on your face throughout playthrough.
With over 40hrs of already available content and a vast easy to pick up selection of gameplay mechanics, you will not be short on things to do. Developer Fatshark have also already announced multiple upcoming expansion packs, and updates such as PvP arenas and an exciting coop mode allowing you to venture into the enormous dungeons with a friend by your side.