Krater is the fourth game to be released by Swedish developer Fat Shark. Although they call themselves an ‘indie’ company, they are staffed by veterans of the industry which helps explain why the game looks so good, but doesn’t help me understand why so many of the ideas failed when put into practice.
Waking up in a post-apocalyptic Sweden with a convenient plot device of a hangover, your first task is to gather up your troops which consist of the sci-fi equivalent of a tank, medic and ranger, and go off to do whatever it is the game has you do.
To be honest, the game’s narrative is vague at best. For all the games tasty graphics, well thought out level design, and decent (if unoriginal) combat, the game developers seem to have forgotten to add some sort of coherent narrative and story to pull the game along, and instead players are guided through the world by nothing more than side-quests and a sub-par dialogue system used to communicate with characters to try and get a back story as to why they’re fighting the same creatures for the umpteenth time.
The combat is your basic top-down RPG bag of tricks, although a distinct lack of strategy is clear, and you’ll find yourself forcing your ranged players who want in on the brawls to do laps round the battlefield to stop them taking too much damage. Point at an enemy and thrash your fingers on the skills hotkeys will win you bouts for the most part, however the game’s difficulty doesn’t scale as well as other games with a similar sized map, and you’ll find yourself being slaughtered by certain enemies while you laugh off attacks from others in the same area. It makes grinding difficult at times because you’re never sure what you’re going to encounter in what area. The main problem with the game comes from how you’re able to manage your units; You’re able to control up to three units, and can choose from a plethora of individuals.
When you buy a new unit, they start at level 0, and have to be leveled up to catch up with the rest of your team. Much like catching a wild Pokemon, only with Pokemon you have the ability to individually train your creatures. Units have a 4 knock-down maximum. Once they’ve been knocked down 4 times, they’re gone: dead forever, and no amount of healing spells or whining is going to bring them back. This means its entirely possible to get rather far in the game and end up with a team made up of low level units with nothing but a wooden stick and a kiss goodbye from their mother to protect them. This also means that while you grow attached to the first few units you get as they actually have some sort of backstory introducing them, if all three bite the dust, your attachment dies with them.
Another part of the game is upgrading your units, and building these upgrades themselves using blueprints that can be bought and found within the game. Unfortunately, this isn’t really developed within the game, and was an addition that I infrequently used, especially when everything but money was in abundance when looting in Krater, and when a unit dies, they take with them any gear you might have thrown their way.
Is It Worth Your Money?
What Krater does well, it does very well indeed. Towns and other locations feel fully realized with a vibrant aesthetic that doesn’t detract from the games post-apocalyptic feel. The graphics are gorgeous, and the humor can be good. However, what makes a game is how it plays and while there’s no denying Krater provides a good few hours of enjoyment, it doesn’t provide a meaty enough experience. Much like a game in which your save file has disappeared, after a while you feel yourself asking the question “Can I be bothered any more?” While it is possible to get your $14.99 worth of fun out of it, I highly doubt it’ll be a title anyone will play a second time through.
Krater Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 4 Hours
- Widescreen Support – Yes
- 5.1 Audio Support – Yes
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Crashed a few times until I set it to high priority
- Control Scheme – Keyboard/Mouse
- DRM – Steam
- System Specs – GTX 460, 2.4GHz Core2 Quad , 4GB RAM
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- Availability – Steam