Gamescom 2014: Kromaia Lives

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Kromaia but the developer, Kraken Empire, hasn’t been sitting still in the intervening months.  After their Indiegogo campaign came up short they kept plugging away, earning a Steam Greenlight and recently getting picked up by Rising Star Games for distribution.  They’re currently showing off the latest build at Gamescom, and while Germany is maybe a little too far to travel the newest build doesn’t have to remain an ocean away.  Kromaia has grown by leaps and bounds since last fall, and the new Adventure Mode expands on the shooting in a number of ways.

Last fall’s demo, which is still available if you want to get a feel for things, showcased two out of the four available ships running through a three-minute time attack mode.  The over-the-shoulder viewpoint did a good job of keeping the 6-degrees-of-freedom action manageable, and the constantly swarming enemies made for a nicely chaotic round of shooting once the difficulty ramped up a bit.  Kromaia‘s fast action and stylish visuals easily made up for the demo’s fly & shoot simplicity, and now the Adventure Mode shows off some level design to go with the shooting.

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The four levels available are themed to each of the different ships.  The orange ship has a scatter gun with a shotgun blast secondary weapon, the red ship has a focused rapid shot and laser beam, green fires homing missiles as primary and a bunch of missiles at once for its secondary shot, and blue has a giant sword plus backup shuriken.  The only limits on primary and secondary weapon usage is reload speed, so there’s no point in saving the power shot for later.  The same holds true for boost and the new grappling hook, both of which should be used early and often.  Kromaia is a game about speed, maneuverability, and firepower, and mastering each ship is about learning its rhythm and handling rather than worrying about ammo count.

Kromaia‘s levels are wide open but still structured, so while you can fly anywhere the directional ring around the ship is pointing to the next of the fifteen spheres you need to collect to clear the level.  The spheres are easy enough to see, but dodging giant spinning blades while waves of enemies home in on you doesn’t make collecting them easy.  There are also buildings and other distractions along the way, and if you can figure out how to get in they’ll reward you with much-needed shield pieces.  It’s hard to resist going exploring even if you know you’ll most likely end up more damaged than when you started, because who can resist a simple puzzle amidst all the shooting?

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Each world you clear works towards activating a jump gate, but seeing as Kromaia isn’t shy about its challenge and the save function doesn’t seem to work, what’s beyond the gate will have to remain a mystery.  The important thing from the current build is seeing that the excellent combat from last fall’s demo is taking place in giant open worlds with plenty of unique structures and interesting areas to explore.  The enemies have gotten faster, smarter, and come in greater variety, forcing you to exploit all your ship’s abilities to survive.  I was thoroughly impressed by Kromaia’s potential last year, and the Gamescom build has done nothing but stoke my enthusiasm to blast through the epic encounter to come from Rising Star Games.