Krater defies our usual classifications. At first glance, it appears to be a dungeon crawler, replete with monsters, spells and loot. And yet, it also has elements of real-time strategy, with players managing multiple units, each with their own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Further still, we've got traditional role-playing elements, including an overworld map and even random encounters.
What really sets it apart, however, is the way that Krater treats its characters. Krater takes place in a ruined Sweden, destroyed by a massive, apparently nuclear explosion. Those who survived built their homes along the edges of the crater left behind. The blast, it turns out, unearthed lost riches ... and a heaping helping of monsters. That's where you come in, along with your team of trained killers.
The game plays similarly to other dungeon crawlers, in that you find and accept quests, battle monsters, gather loot and upgrade your gear and abilities along the way. The difference is you aren't controlling a single avatar, you're controlling three of them. There are several classes of hero, ranging from the heavy-hitting Bruiser to the long-ranged Regulator. Each serves a purpose – dealing damage, healing, etc.
Every hero has two skills, offering the player a total of six to work with in combat. With three different characters to manage, combat isn't as straightforward as it is in most dungeon crawlers, and it actually plays out more like a real-time strategy game. My Bruiser generally leads the pack, landing the first hit and drawing enemy attention, while my Regulator hangs behind, strategically stunning or slowing enemies and my Medikus heals those who need it. It might sound difficult to manage so many tasks, but hotkeys for hero selection and abilities make it very simple.
Despite the unique hero system and RTS elements, Krater makes no attempt to hide its dungeon crawling roots. The heart of the game is still taking on quests, finding and crafting loot and slaying monsters. There's even a quest about killing rats in someone's basement, which the characters themselves acknowledge is a cliché. Still, you accept because, as the quest-giver points out, you know you want to.
Because of that adherence to tradition, your mileage with Krater may vary, but anyone with a love for loot and grinding will probably enjoy trekking through the dilapidated landscape and listening to Krater's synth-heavy music. Between crafting, recruiting new heroes and upgrading heroes and items, stat hounds shouldn't have trouble staying busy either.
This article is based on a download of Krater, provided by Fatshark. Krater is available on PC now for $15.