by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Traditionally, games and movies have depicted post-apocalyptic worlds as barren deserts or as drab, depressive underground warrens. With lush environments that are teeming with life, Krater is a stubborn but colorful departure of either of these two settings.
In Krater, the apocalypse was caused by a single bomb, but one of epic proportions. On impact, it left a crater large enough for cities, even nations to be built up around. At its center, an immense abyss has formed that is fabled to be full of riches from before the apocalypse. Bands of treasure hunters called Free-Diggers seek out these riches and you, of course, do not want to be left behind.
The game starts in the bustling town of Norrmalm which is conveniently located near one of the entrances into ‘Underside’. Underside is the collective name for the warrens under the crater in which you will be spending much of your time. Norrmalm is a simple town with stacked up cargo crates in the background to give it something of an industrial vibe. Its buildings are made of rusted metal, grass creeps into town, bushes left untended are burying into walls and plants are growing on rooftops. This town has seen better days but despite its looks, people can be seen going about their business everywhere and soft music plays in the background telling you that it’s far from dead.
Before descending into the tunnels, a do-gooder named Alma approaches you and asks for your help, drawing you into the first of many quests. The early missions range from hunting food for a starving family to delivering packages where the postman doesn’t dare go. Basic stuff, but the missions serve just fine to gain some experience and equipment for your team. It also gives you a good reason to explore the map, which is an adventure all on its own. The beta includes nine settlements and a number of dungeons. Traveling from one place to the other, you’ll be hit by random encounters to keep things fresh. A mini map helps you find nearby quests but also unveils enemies in dungeons. A compass is provided too but at in this build it misses an arrow to point you in the direction of your active quest which I hope will be added later.
Your team consists of a ‘tank’ Bruiser, healer Medikus and magician Regulator. Bruiser’s cleaver instills fear into any foe and is able to do damage to multiple foes at once. When the others are in danger of being overrun by enemies, he stomps hard on the ground to draw attention to him. Medikus is able to channel a ray of healing power to one of his allies over a prolonged period of time and is the perfect supporting match for Bruiser who is bound to receive most of the pummeling fighting in the frontline. Regulator uses his magical powers to create traps and stun enemies but can also be equipped with rifles to provide ranged support.
In the beta, a fourth character is tagging along with your team. Brawler stays in the background until needed and jumps in when things get especially hairy for the three main characters. What his role and presence will be in the full game is currently unknown.
If applied correctly, the members on your team are more than a match for anything the game throws at you. Fights are fast paced and usually last only a short, furious moment and most of the time you will feel like you’re steamrolling through the game. That doesn’t mean it lacks challenge, fight your first bear and you know to stay on your toes.
While a large variety of wildlife, plants and trees provide color to the world above, Krater’s near endless caves and dungeons look a lot less joyful. A quiet whistling of the wind, the sound of water dripping in the distance… it’s all very tranquil. Then a roar of something dangerous sounds out of nowhere. You know you’re in trouble now and that danger lurks in the shadows.
A fun aspect of Krater is its crafting system. You can never assume that the things that you find are trash as many items can be used to create new items. Weeds, adhesives, teeth, goo and many other things can be used to craft upgrades, gadgets and even weapons. To help you figure out what does what, blueprints can be found and used as construction manuals.
Krater has the makings of a fun Action-RPG. The post-apocalyptic setting doesn’t always take center stage but that could well be because the current build lacks the overall storyline. Even if it doesn’t, there is a lot to like here and the setting is certainly a nice change from the high-fantasy setting most Action-RPGs employ. One to watch.