Imagine for a second if a dungeon crawler like Torchlight or Diablo got together with a squad-based strategy game like Warhammer 40K Dawn of War and decided to make a baby. Well, that’s what you’ll be thinking happened when you sit down to play Krater.
Krater is a squad-based dungeon crawler in which you will take on quests, level up your squadmates, and obtain new weapons and upgrades. 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. 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 themselves.
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 quests that task you with simply killing a number of creatures in an area, to finding items in a dungeon or a cave. Much like any other dungeon crawler, you will be rewarded with experience and money along with other items.
Unlike a dungeon crawler, 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.
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.
Each character has two unique abilities they can use in combat. After using the abilities there is a cool down. Luckily, there is no mana or casting management in this game, so you can use your skills to your heart’s content. 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.
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 game has permadeath on both normal and hard difficulties, but like I said, you can always recruit new members. On normal, when your characters go down in combat, they may sustain an injury that decreases stats. If they are not healed at a doctor, after three injuries they are dead forever. In hard mode, if they go down once it’s the big sleep. 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.
The one thing I had problems with was the menu system. They are sometimes a little strange to navigate. Most 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.
The game developers have stated that next month, the game will receive a free update that will include co-op mode via the Internet. This is some great news, because the game would seem to do very will with three of your friends taking on the post-apocalyptic future of Sweden.
For fifteen dollars, you get a well-made dungeon crawler that fans of Dawn of War and Diablo will completely eat up. The game has a lot of charm in the character design and an in-depth take on crafting and character customization. With online co-op on the way, the inexpensive price tag makes the game a complete steal. I highly recommend Krater.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.