Krater
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An example of the bright game world.

Krater is a top down action RPG from Swedish company Fatshark Games. It features all the usual hallmarks of the RPG genre such as a typical ability bar control system and also has a set of distinct character classes with a traditional tank, healer and DPS (damage per second) setup. However Krater does add some fresh ideas into the mix. Things like the injury system and the boosters and implants you can attach to your characters do add depth to the game.

The visual and sound styles of the game are really quite brilliant. The games look is cartoony and certainly looks like it has been influenced in style by games such as Borderlands. The game world looks great and environments have a lot of colour and flair. In terms of sound I’m mainly referring to the games soundtrack. Although the combat sound effects are impressive it is the games music that just had me hooked. I have a weak spot for Sci-fi sounds and Krater has some of the best I’ve heard in a long time.

So you’re launched into the game via a nod to the Hangover films. Your team hit the bottle the previous night and ended up all over the town. Through this amusing opening you are introduced to your first 3 characters and given a little tutorial on each class type as you meet up with the rest of the team. The game does continue with this level of light humour throughout, when you interact with the survivors within the world the dialogue has a comedic edge to it that lends itself nicely to the general style of the game.

Character development takes form in the traditional sense of levelling. But characters can only level a maximum of 15 times and you have to purchase 10 of those levels costing 23,000kr (kr is Sweden’s currency for those thinking I may have meant Cr). However there are a few factors that affect how you’re going to choose to level.

Firstly there are plenty of other ‘adventurers’ available for hire, and there are a few that are known I believe as mutant types. These are generally stronger than the non-mutated counter parts. So before investing the 20,000 it takes to unlock levels 10-15 for your standard character it is worth having a check to see what is available. There are also various implants and boosters to further your characters skills and powers.

Each character has 2 abilities with which you can attach boosters. Now this opens up the opportunity to change your classes a little bit so you can attach a healing buff to an AOE spell and therefore your tank class has a healing property. But you won’t ever find yourself not needing a healer or using your tank as a healer. Implants are more related to the individual characters stats such as stamina and strength. It is wise to apply both boosters and implants to your characters with plenty of thought as these are permanent once applied to the character.

Another large part of the gameplay is the inclusion of ‘permadeath’. That ever more popular feature meaning “once your character is dead it is dead” and this means you have to be careful of how you go into combat. The way Krater deals with this permadeath is actually well executed though. Each character has a bar next to their portrait on screen; every time a character gets KO’d in combat that bar fills a little. Once full the character then suffers a permanent injury, too many injuries and it is goodbye character. So it isn’t so tough that you’ll be losing a character every time something goes wrong, but there is always the threat that one more injury may kill your character that you have invested time and money in.

Questing is unfortunately a weak aspect in the game. A lot of the quests are going from point A to point B, killing/collecting a certain amount of something and the return to point A. There is very little variation and after a while the repetitiveness does begin to take its toll. And repetitiveness is Krater’s biggest problem. Raising new characters required you to go into lower level areas as a high area with even one weak team member usually results in abject failure so you have to go over the same territory again and again raising these characters. At times I found myself going back to level up my party just so that I could progress forward. My characters simply weren't strong enough even after completing all the other available quests.

So what we have here is a solid Action RPG game with great visuals and a brilliant soundtrack. There is also a good level depth through the various things you can do with your character and some great new ideas. Yet the simple moment to moment game play that the game has you repeat over and over just doesn’t shine through enough to make the transition from a solid to a great game.

Look at those colours!