Throughout my time with Krater, I really wanted to like it. It has a lot going for it — a cool art style, interesting music, and game mechanics that cross top-down role-playing with strategy. As Diablo 3 broke onto the scene, Krater seemed to offer an alternative take with an original post-apocalyptic world.
Unfortunately, though, despite a lot of good ideas in Krater, the execution of many of them is lacking. The result is an experience that can get repetitive, and at its worst, frustrating. Krater attempts to iterate on standard genre conventions, and along with its low price tag, it’s not a bad purchase. But it’s held back by a lot of missteps, and those keep it from ever becoming much fun.
Krater: PC (reviewed)
Released: June 12, 2012
Krater starts out with players taking control of three-man team of mercenaries looking for work. They’ve ventured to the titular depression, which is located in what formerly was Sweden, in search of work. The Krater is a verdant area amidst the wasteland where there are towns, as well as monsters, toxic animals, and mines and other areas filled with bandits and other enemies. There’s a story here that has the mercs working various jobs and, eventually, going up against the worst outlaw in the area.
Like other similar isometric RPGs, you’ll bounce from town to town, gathering quests from townspeople, and then venture out to dungeons to complete them. They’re basically all the same: wander into a mine/factory/cave, kill things that are in the way, collect some item, return to quest-giver. You’ll grab lots of loot along the way, consisting of both weapons and crafting items, which you can then use to make new weapons. Leveling up your characters is done by adding implants and “boosters” to them — implants increase key stats, and boosters add buffs to their two intrinsic special abilities, mapped to the number keys. Each character only has these two abilities, which is unfortunate because it means that you don’t have too much leeway when it comes to how you’ll strategize through each fight.
Strategy feels like what Krater is going for with its fights, but really, strategy is sorely lacking. Each character in your team of three has special abilities and a definitive role — there are your front-man tank characters, your status-altering support characters and your healing medic characters, as well as another class of close fighters. Fighting is a mix of auto-attacks and activating those special abilities at key moments.