Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Krater Overview and Impressions

Fatshark has been running a Krater public test for the alpha version of the game for many months. I have been playing it for quite some long time and have seen many significant updates to the game, but I have never been able to get that far into the game since it currently has no save function. I can safely say that Krater, like the cover art says, is a post apocalyptic role playing game. It has a similar feel to many party based RPGs that use hotkeys for abilities and a normal inventory system. The game has quite a bit for a smaller game: there is a main storyline, there are side quests, there are optional areas to explore all over the place, there is a crafting system, all in a surprisingly pretty post apocalyptic world. The combat feels good, even at it's current state, and it is a mix between old school rpg mechanics and newer action based rpg mechanics. You control a team of three, but there are four classes in the game and many different characters you can recruit. 

Krater will come out with an initial release called Shadow Over Solside, but they alread have a planned expansion for the game called Pledge of the Patriarch. The first and main part of the game will let you play the first three episodes of the story of Krater. You start in the town of Norrmalm, a town full of odd individuals, merchants, rapid dogs and a theme that makes you feel like you are traveling through a trash filled mechanical city. The whole city fits pretty well into the post apocalyptic setting, yet you can immediately tell that Krater has it's own unique style to it and that Fatshark doesn't intend to deliver a generic experience.

When you start the alpha version of Krater you are thrown into Norrmalm with your three characters. Immediately there are characters talking to you about the games mechanics and where you should go once you wish to start moving through the story. The city is fairly small with only a few merchants, but it looks like a real makeshift city that is made out of old technology. After completing a few trivial quests in the city, one of which introduces you to freediggers (treasure hunters of a sort), you are free to enter the world. From the moment you exit the city you can see many different explorable areas, some of which are cities, farms, caves and mines. If you head a little to the west you can see some other cities, which aren't currently as well done or fully developed as Norrmalm but you can still explore them and do some basic interactions.

When I decided to actually progress the story, and not just explore, I headed to a nearby cave that happened to be packed with wolves, some huge, some tiny, but all dangerous. My first encounter nearly wiped me out as I struggled to press hotkeys and use my medic to keep my brute melee character alive as three wolves ripped him apart. I quickly learned what skills did what and how to plan for each battle, which make the battles progressingly easier as I learned each characters abilities and weaknesses. Immediately I found some new equipment and enhancements. It seems that each character in the game can be given enhancements that increase intelligence, strength or other attributes. These enhancements seem to be one of the main ways to increase a characters overall power, other than gathering new equipment. Traveling through the cave I encountered many groups of wolves and eventually came to a boss wolf, who was not so daunting once I focused all three members on him. Once I defeated him and completed that quest I headed back out into the world.

Once I explored the world a little more I started to run into harder and harder enemies, but my party was progressingly fairly well themselves and it felt pretty balanced difficulty wise. If I made some mistakes and didn't use my abilities well then my party could easily die, but if use my brute to pull them all the enemies in on him, my support to provide extra damage and my medic to keep everyone alive then it all works out, most of the time. The world of Krater reminds me of older games, or newer ones like Dark Souls, where if you wander into something you cannot handle you are dead, it's not going to scale to you. In this alpha stage there already is a lot to explore, many towns and many dangerous locations. The locations are pretty varied too, some are drab multi-level mining facilities while there are also gorgeous nature filled surface areas. As you get stronger and move into more dangerous areas you start to see some remnants of the old technology, eventually leading you to places that look like old bases that are still pretty advanced looking.

I've been watching Krater develop into something enticing, something that has it's own unique feel yet still uses many familiar aspects to make you feel comfortable with the mechanics. They have recently announced that the game will be coming out on June 12th, which should provide some good competition for Torchlight 2. Krater will have singleplayer and cooperative multiplayer, both of which will interact seamlessly with each other. If you want to pre-order the game you may do so and get immediate access to the public test version. It is currently only for PC, but a Mac version will be released in July, both of which will be coming out on Steam. The game looks to be around $15 on release, but you can pre-order various editions cheaper than they will be at release over at the website. I haven't been able to get too much into the game yet, thanks to the lack of a save feature, but I will play it quite a bit more soon and record some gameplay as well. Keep an eye out for that impressions article in the feature and thanks for reading.
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-Written by Sean Cargle


  1. The standard edition of the game will be around $15

    1. Ah, I was basing that on the collector's edition (the most basic preorder) that is on sale for $20.