Krater Review

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)
Developer: Fatshark
Publisher: Bitsquad
Released: June 12, 2012
MSRP: $14.99

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.

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1 Comment on Krater Review

Daan

On August 8, 2012 at 9:53 am

Hi Phil,

After the disappointment that was Diablo3, both Path of Exile and Krater kept me busy for quiet a while in the topdown hack&slash genre. In general I think I agree with with your take on this game in this review, but you made quiet a mistake concerning one or two of the major cons you described, namely the repetitive leveling in the game, and perhaps also the difficulty spikes.

Leveling goes pretty quick, and the main time-investment lies in finding/crafting boosters and implants. That time is lost when you would be forced to create a new character to reach new level caps, and that would be very annoying. The thing is that that is not neccesary. The level cap can be raised, for a price of course, in certain villages (I only found one so far, the second village you go to); first from 5 to 10, than to 15. My initial party has been prancing around at level 15 for some time now. I would say the game is therefor not as repetitive (in an annoying way) as you presently describe it.

I don’t know if I agree on the difficulty spikes being a problem. They can give cause to a partywipe, but at normal difficulty this is no problem because you can heal your injuries before permadeath occurs. I also think these difficulty spikes, ones identified, can be waylaid by using a different party setup. My main party is ballanced in the sense that I have the classic tank, healer, DPS setup, but some encounters just ask for a different approach or you’r in for a lot of hurt. There is enough customization possible (probably with a new character with a different skillset) to allow for different approaches. In my experience these difficultyspikes are not random, but have to do with the encounter itself, and one that knows the game could thus identify these spikes beforehand and prepare enough characters to provide for these encounters. At the highest difficultylevel this means you must indeed know the game to avoid permadeaths, and this can be considered and probably is a big flaw. One might argue that the simple fact a player does not know encounters ahead should never in itself be a cause for permadeath. On the other hand one might argue this actually adds a layer of depth to partydevelopment and makes a secondplaythrough interesting because you go differently about leveling up your party, resulting in quiet a different experience than the first playthrough, and that people new to the game should simply not play on hardmode, which goes for a lot of games (although I admit a permadeath you could not see comming is just annoying, not a matter of playing at a higher difficulty and taking a world of hurt for granted). Of course this doesn’t mean anything for the repetitiveness of the action and questing in the game itself, which might be cause to not want to do a second playthrough anyway.

I quiet like the game. Nothing great or fancy, but refreshing in a way good worth for money.

With kind regards, Daan