Krater is a 2012 PC game by Fatshark. It’s a cross between Baldur’s Gate and Borderlands (Borderlands itself being a cross between Diablo 2 and Fallout 3). I bought this game because the guy from Penny Arcade mentioned it. Yes, I’m a mindless sheep and all that. Let’s get to the game.
My first thought was “I suck at real-time strategy” but combat is closer to Baldur’s Gate. You can recruit dudes for your party and kill other dudes. Collect loot and kill stronger enemies. Sounds OK at first, but combat is too simplistic and generally too easy. Each character’s skills are limited by cooldowns and not any sort of mana system, so they can be spammed frequently with no regard to resource management. Health is restored after each battle, making things even easier. Increasing the difficulty level at the beginning of the game appears to only serve to make your characters permanently die with fewer knockouts. The only challenge I ever faced was enemy healers who could spam their abilities just as frequently as my own.
There are only a couple character classes and each one has the same two skills with no ability to customize except for items. And the items themselves offer few possible buffs. Only the implants are interesting; they offer stat increases but are permanently stuck to that character. Item management is nice and easy, though; you have one item screen for all your characters with no need to shuffle items between them like we’re still in Wizardry. There is no stash that I could find to store extra items, but there’s no need since there are few equipment builds available anyway. I demand more variety in my Diablo clones.
The only choices you have currently are what classes of character to bring with you–the Slayer who deals lots of single-target damage or the Bruiser who can take hits and deal area of effect damage? Or take both, sacrificing the utility you’d get from a Medikus or Regulator? Unfortunately, all the strategy involved which classes you bring to battle; during combat you’re mostly on auto-pilot. Another astoundingly bad design decision is the level cap. Your initial characters can only reach level 5; you have to complete more of the quest to unlock the ability to reach higher levels. Lame.
I was looking forward to Fallout-like interaction with NPCs, but there are no lengthy or convoluted dialogue trees or moral choices. Other characters exist to sell/craft items for you or to give you quests. They aren’t fully voice-acted, which is fairly understandable given the fact that Krater doesn’t have a gigantic budget for something so superfluous. But as the amount of dialogue is minimal, I get the feeling they could have fully voiced the characters anyway but still ran out of budget money. Another symptom of the game’s incompleteness, I suppose.
You can repeatedly visit dungeons and get a whole new set of randomly-generated layouts, enemies, and loot. The downside is that backtracking is harder, as the levels you already completed are full of enemies again. Not to worry, however, you have a convenient
town portal extract function to quickly flee dungeons.
I do like Krater’s map system. There are full maps and minimaps and you can turn the screen in any direction you like. So if you enjoy constantly moving upwards to give the impression that you’re always progressing, you can do that. There are many spots on the world map that appear to be full of buildings but are not inhabited, indicating perhaps that they will be filled in later.
Krater is an earnest but underdeveloped attempt at replicating Baldur’s Gate or Fighting Force with a cliche post-apocalyptic scavenger wasteland aesthetic. I’ve heard that the developers ran out of money and had to release an unfinished product, which is unfortunate given the more complex game they probably had in mind. The creators have promised to add new content on frequent occasions (A promise they have kept), so let’s hope they fix Krater’s problems like the limited characters and lack of strategy in combat and turn it into something more worthwhile. At 778 words, this review is kind of short, but the game itself is just as insubstantial. Check back in a few months to see if Krater has improved and become more like the robust dungeon crawler it ought to be.