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Krater Review

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A unique squad-based dungeon crawler made of pure post apocalyptic fun.

Krater pretty much is a blend of different games and genres. Imagine if a dungeon crawler like Diablo merged with a squad based strategy such as Warhammer 40k. The world that the game is set in is very similar to games such as Fallout and X-com – except greener and full of happier peoples…

Hailing from Swedish Developer, Fatshark, Krater is one of those games that is assumed to fall into the category of an Action Role Playing game that merely take concepts from the Diablo series and repeats it without adding anything new. Fortunately, it does more than copy something that works. Rather, Krater mixes ARPG with the tactical prowess of RTS games by having the player control 3 squad members at once. The game takes place in the distant future in the mysterious land of Sweden. Yes, Sweden. The land is ravaged by nuclear fallout, and the only way to survive is by wearing gas masks. As you would have guessed from the name, the game takes place around a massive crater or ‘Krater’. Your squad is new to the large land mass known as the Krater, where people try to live in peace while bandits, mutated monsters, and other hazards get in the way. Now, your up and coming team is ready to make a name (and a little cash) for them.

Awaking with a humongous hangover, it’s your job to get your tank, healer and ranged characters together to find out what the hell is going on. Sometimes this sense of handheld confusion and intrigue can work to a game’s advantage, but I found that in Krater’s case it takes far too long revealing what you should be doing, how you should be playing and whether you should be.  This is not a major problem, but it did irritate me. Instead of an introduction, or video you just start picking up quests, which after a few hours will reveal the main theme of the game. This was only as minor hitch though, as the gameplay is bloody good fun!

The graphical style for Krater is both humorous and attractive; and it completely suits my taste in games. It creates a friendly atmosphere that could seem to turn dark at any point. The characters and NPC’s in the gam wear gas masks and both nicely crafted and animated. The cities and settlements are a mix of old buildings being re-used and rusty, worn down buildings built from scrap metal and rubbish. The monstrosities that litter the game really do give that post-apocalyptic vibe that Fatshark were looking for. Simultaneously, however, it also adds the colorful atmosphere that most, if not all, post-apocalyptic games lack. Thus, Krater is presented in a unique tone and style not seen in other games. The occasional voice-overs and quirky characters makes for an interesting story that, after you get into the main storyline did keep my attention. While it did have a rather generic and unimaginative start, the game quickly engages the player by showering the surroundings with lore that is familiar yet new.

As stated above, you control a squad of three characters. There are four classes in all that you can choose from, and you can switch out characters at recruitment stations. The classes range from the brutal tank to the healing medic to the high DPS rogue. Choosing the right group for you is dependent on how you play the game. You’re never limited to specific class choices.

During the game, you will take on a variety of quests that range from you killing a group of monsters, to finding sacred religious documents in caves.  At times it does seem a little to ‘World of Warcraft’ esq, but there were many quests that I found to be exciting and very different to most action RPG’s.  Much like any other dungeon crawler, you will be rewarded with experience and money along with other items.

However, unlike most dungeon crawlers, there is not a very large emphasis on gaining loot; at least, not in the gear category. You don’t choose new armor to equip, but rather upgrades to your abilities and permanent enhancements for the characters themselves. These boosts come in many different forms: increased hit points, more intelligence and stat growth. When you actually sit down and dive into the customization, you will begin to see just how deep it really is.

Each character has two unique abilities they can use in combat. After using the abilities there is a cool down. Luckily, there is no stamina or casting management in this game, so you can spam your skills to your heart’s content, or at least when they are off cooldown. This comes in handy when surrounded by a particularly nasty group of baddies.

Each character can equip a weapon and a gadget. Gadgets are special additional abilities that can be used like any other class ability. Weapons are all based on statistics, including attack speed and damage per second. It’s simple management, but it never gets old. Plus, you’ll be obtaining new weapons and blueprints such that there will always be something new to equip.

The game offers a crafting system that allows you to create enhancements in the form of weapons, gadgets, boosters, and permanent character upgrades. You can only craft items if you have the blueprint for them. These can be found as treasure, quest rewards or in vendor stock. To start with however, the crafting system can be quite daunting. Also finding the necessary pieces for a certain gun or other piece of equipment may take time.

The game has permadeath on both normal and hard difficulties but you can always recruit new members. On normal, when your characters go down in combat, they may sustain an injury that decreases stats and you can always revive them.  Its If they are not healed at a doctor, after three injuries they are dead forever. In hard mode, if they go down once they stay down. This mode is not for the fainthearted.  Of course, on casual, there is no death at all. I played most of the game on normal, and the injury system was enough to keep me on my toes. I somehow felt permadeath didn’t really fit in with the happy atmosphere that you are surrounded by.

While in combat, you can choose to either use all three party members at once, or use them individually. This can come in handy when you want to keep your healer or sniper in the back while the tank keeps the enemies at bay. This is where the strategy comes into play. For the first few quests you can go full on with your entire party, but when you start running into the tougher enemies, you will want to move your party to better locations while in combat.

The major gripe I had with the game was with the menu system. They are sometimes a little annoying to navigate. Many modern games usually use the mouse for most everything, but I found that some menus required you to hit either escape or the button that brought up the menu. Yes, it’s a small gripe, but there were many times I just wanted to check something in my inventory but ended up having to relocate the button on my keyboard or reposition my mouse just to leave the menu, which ended up breaking up gameplay.

Fatshark have stated that next month Krater will be getting a free update that will bring the online co-op mode into action. This is some great news, not only because it’s free but also because you will be able to join up with two of you’re friends taking on the post-apocalyptic Sweden. Suddenly the game seems like a bargain.

Krater is an enjoyable, engrossing game that is well worth your money. The combat is very repetitive and the menus could do with some streamlining but once you delve into the customization and crafting you can really start to have fun. For just over ten pounds, you get a well-made dungeon crawler that fans of Dawn of War and Tourchlight would love. With online co-op on the way, the inexpensive price tag makes this charming game a complete steal.

Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.

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