Kromaia is Kraken Empire’s upcoming arcade shooter. The game is a throwback to the old style arcade shooters with scores of enemies being hurled at the player and unlimited ammunition. The game has won awards at Freeplay 2011 and HóPLAY 2010. Kraken Empire is seeking funding to complete the single player campaign through IndieGoGo. Currently, the Score Attack mini-game is available to play for those donating $10 USD or more to the campaign.
The Score Attack demo features four armours, each with a unique style of attack. The amber Alpha armour provides a straight firing bullet backed up with a shotgun like secondary attack. The red Mu armour fires a laser in two different modes. The primary fires a single short laser pulse while the primary attack fires a steady beam for a several seconds. The green Tau armour fires short range missiles that locks onto nearby targets, while the secondary attack will lock onto several nearby enemies and unleash a deadly salvo of missiles. Finally, the blue Psi armour poses one of the greatest player challenges. Its primary attack is a close ranged slash that obliterates almost everything close enough with one swipe. The secondary attack will throw a giant shuriken that will stun and disorient enemies for a short time, which allows players to safely close the gap between them and the enemy. Secondary attacks have a short recharge time depending on the armour which encourage liberal use of the special abilities.
The demo is meant to showcase the technology behind Kromaia. The AI is designed to adapt to the player’s style to provide a unique challenge. The effect is most apparently when using the Psi armour. Normally, my play style consists of strafing the enemy to dodge incoming danger while keeping them at range. Since Psi’s abilities are focused on close combat, I cannot rely on my usual tactics. I noticed the game immediately compensated by throwing close ranged suicide bombers far earlier in the game.
The physics engine is a big part of Kromaia. The game moves the armour based on its thrusters. Players are able to move in all directions with ease. The controls are best used with the mouse and keyboard, though the Xbox 360 controller is an option. The armours are able to move like a helicopter, but with simpler set of controls. But even with the simplified controls, a skilled player can start dodging and weaving through the plentiful asteroids.
Kraken Empire is providing a very easy way to hop into modifying the game. Kromaia allows full access to XML files that provide modifiers for practically everything in the game. The team says gamers should be able to make small changes like tweaking the player’s speed and large changes like creating new types of enemies with the XML files. At this point, there is little documentation on the XML files, so it will be a matter of trial and error. However, I see this providing some extra longevity to the game as players create new scenarios with the tools.
Personally, the lack of crosshairs was a bit of a challenge for me. When flying forwards, the weapons will usually fire straight ahead, so lining up enemies is not difficult. But once the armour begins strafing, aiming tends to require the player to “walk” the projectiles onto target. Of course this affects the Alpha and Mu armours the most, but I would have also appreciated to see a crosshair for Psi’s secondary ability.
Kromaia’s visuals looks like an interpretation of the internet from the 1980s. The environment reminds me of the Tron franchise. The enemies on the other hand feel more Japanese in nature with their sterile white bodies and clean lines. The game does a great job portraying fast movements in an a vast area. The long trails of colour that follow in the wake of the armours provide an impressive visual display.
Surprisingly, Kromaia’s visuals really shine when the game is played on a 3d monitor. Although 3d displays is not officially supported, the game was a jaw dropping experience when played on a Nvidia 3D Vision monitor. Kromaia is a perfect game to demonstrate the joys of 3d gaming.
My only gripe with Kromaia’s visuals is the menu system. All the major menu entries are supposed to be pictograms of some sort. However, the images used for each menu option has no discernable meaning to them. The only way to figure out what they do is to highlight them with the cursor, to reveal the English description. Although I suspect this decision was made for immersion purposes, it gets in the way of navigating menus quickly.
The audio is a little bare at this point. There are sound effects and music, but there is little variety at this point. However, what is there compliments the game well.
Kraken Empire is seeking funding to finish Kromaiai’s single player campaign mode. They currently have the framework for an excellent retro styled shooter reinterpreted for a modern generation of gamers. It is already a fantastic title to demonstrate 3d gaming. Retro shooter fans and 3d gaming nuts take notice, Kromaia is ready to knock your socks off.