No gods, no masters.
The PlayStation 4 is known for its wonderful relationship with independent developers. As a consumer, that relationship generally yields a lot of positive results. Some of the most underrated games are the indie games Sony has gambled upon. Kromaia falls into the category of indie developer, but will it shine in the underrated category or drop into the abyss of excess games?
Kromaia Omega, developed by Kraken Empire and published by Rising Star Games, delivers a unique visual experience and fairly sound gameplay. It is the same Kromaia that exists on Steam (for $19.99), but it includes a new Pure mode. From what I gathered, the story revolves around you, the pilot, who is being instructed to take revenge upon the numerous god guardians defending each zone.
Gameplay in Kromaia is simple. The general idea of each zone is to collect 20 jumpgate components. At about every five or so, on the normal difficulty, the game auto-saves your progress, so if you die, you restart at the last jumpgate saved. Once you’ve collected all 20 of the jumpgate components and battle an increasing number of enemies as you do so, you must do battle with the god guardian protecting each zone.
The first aspect of Kromaia Omega that the player notices is the artistic assault on the eyes. Clearly intending to be refreshingly unique as far as visuals go, Kromaia Omega harms itself with the onslaught of color. The player pilots a ship that is capable of 360 degree movement in large zones or worlds. Asteroids float scattered about each map, and structures – some with dangerous appendages – wait to be explored.
The 360 degree freedom to explore each zone is nice, however the colors often got me killed. For example, it’s not always easy to judge the distance between your ship and an asteroid or a structure, and if you’re boosting and accidentally hit one, you’ve lost a layer of shields. This was never particularly a problem with forward movement, but even when zoomed all the way out, thrusting side-to-side or to the back was a gamble. Too many boss fights ended with my thrusting out of an attack and into a small asteroid that destroyed my ship.
After each stage, you travel to a hub of sorts in order to proceed to the next zone. Each zone you enter unlocks a new weapon and armor type for your ship, and once completed, allows you to equip whichever set up you prefer. Also spread throughout each zone are secret objectives for you to discover.
My biggest issue with Kromaia Omega was not the psychedelic coloration of each world (sometimes, they turned out pretty cool and enhanced the experience). Unfortunately, I ran into a few glitches that broke the game for me. For example, I could not, for the longest time, get past stage three because I would try to fly around the boss and shoot his weak spots… only to find myself trapped within his backside. I could not be damaged, and I am pretty sure I wasn’t damaging him, either, but my ship would be stuck for minutes at a time or permanently. I imagine it was supposed to let me fly out once it reopened its weak spots, and occasionally it worked like that. At least once or twice, my ship was absorbed into the center of the boss.
An experience like that, regardless of if it involves just one boss, has the potential to kill a game. I quit multiple times in frustration because of this particular glitch. The good news is that the other bosses were free of glitches (from what I experienced), and some of them are pretty fun to blast about.
While the story mode in Kromaia Omega is very short and lacking of substance, the game still provides a number of challenges for the enthusiast to attempt. There are two modes outside of the story mode. Score mode allows the player to amass as high a score as he/she can muster. Pure mode is the story mode, but the player is only allowed one life. Kromaia Omega also boasts four difficulty settings for the hardcore gamer. Lastly, you can locally play Kromaia Omega cooperatively, where one player controls the flight of the ship and the other the weapons.
Kromaia Omega also features an online leader board for you to check your scores against the world’s other pilots.
Overall, Kromaia Omega offers a flawed technical experience. The gameplay is simple and sound, if not a bit repetitive (every stage is set the same). As far as the ship mechanics and the 360 degree world goes, the execution was pretty spot on. The boss fights were mostly fun, but at least one potential game-breaking glitch exists. Lastly, depending on your eyes and your spatial reasoning abilities, the coloration of some of the zones does more damage than good. The zones that worked well, however, were very impressive.
It is a mixed experience of joys and frustrations, successes and failures. For $29.99 on the PSN, value is mediocre. If you’re in it just for the story mode and enjoyable gameplay, you will find the experience severely lacking. But if this is your type of gaming genre, then the additional score and pure modes may justify the high price tag.