Monday, November 16, 2015

Kromaia Ω (PS4)

Mine eyes are ablaze with the aftermath of the light show spectacle that is "Kromaia Ω"! It burns! It burns!!! All joking aside do be aware that this shmup bares some intense lighting effects that are sometimes flashy. Those who are prone to having seizures, or who have a family history of seizures should probably avoid this game. Even those who can tolerate such loud, and vibrant displays should only play for short amounts of time at a time as it can definitely effect your vision afterwards ...

When it comes to "Kromaia Ω" I can't say I've really ever seen another 360 degree shoot 'em up like it. The first thing that comes to mind is that this revenge against the gods space shooter could easily be a VR game compatible with a virtual reality headset. It is visually immersive on the highest level, and definitely looks like new-gen material. Whether it warrants the $30 price tag will be subjective though. I think 'Kraken Empire', the developers behind this 'Rising Star Games' publication were trying to base their pricing on it's "WOW Factor", and I have to admit it is definitely impressive enough in those regards. As far as gameplay, and modes of play go it is a bit limited in what it offers, though the open universe you traverse is anything but small in scale. For those of you wondering 'Kromaia Ω' is, at heart a free roaming 360 degree shmup that takes in account simple objectives, and an ultimate goal which does not demand that you stay on a linear path. The objectives being the gathering of level advancing items, and the end goal being that of getting revenge for your father's/mother's death by shooting down four galaxy sized gods.

When you first start the game, supposing you choose the "Kromaia Ω" mode which is atop a listing of options that includes the menus of 'Extras', 'Configuration', and 'Clear Data' you will be briefed on the controls through several text panels, and a visual demonstration that incorporates the spaceship you will be piloting. Through my experience the tutorials are poorly implemented, and only hint at the controls leaving you guessing WTF it is you are supposed to be doing. I'd advise pressing 'Options' once you are in-game, and selecting the 'Controls' option to look over the controller diagram that showcases all of your ship control features, and functions. Once you are past the tutorials be prepared for an absolute mind f**k, because you will be dropped into a seemingly deep seeded mythology that makes no sense outside the mention of four gods, and a father's/mother's plea for you to take revenge on their behalf. You'll be placed in your ship before a sort of intergalactic Pantheon of sorts which houses four large doorways leading to different times, and places within the game's oddly constructed universe.

Along with the doorways at this starting point you'll find several giant glowing orbs with DNA strands contained inside that give you hints on what it is you are supposed to be doing. Along with these hints come strange vocals, and enigmatic plot related text. Again these "hints" are vague, and are typed in a manner that coincide with the father's/mother's mission for you. Besides these orbs there is another, lesser orb located in between the four doorways which contains what looks like gears inside. Flying into it will open up the first gate that is located to the left. Once it is open you can pilot your ship into the flaming orange portal within, and be whisked away to the first trashed galaxy that is littered with tons of asteroids, and attacking enemies. Your objective, which may not be apparent at first is to collect the 20 glowing orange orbs that are scattered about the space ruins (architecture like that of Ancient Greece) without losing all four of your given shields. One thing I forgot to mention is that your ship is kept alive by shields. When you first start the game you'll have four of them, and one extra hit afterwards.

Along with the shields, and obtainable shield power-ups that can be found by unlocking gates on the building-like structures you'll also find a limited weapon upgrade power-ups as well as booster refills that are dropped by exploded enemies. Collecting these items, and maintaining your shield count is what will mean the difference between completing a level, or seeing the infamous "GAME OVER" message pop-up. Aside from these items your ship also has some unique capabilities. These capabilities include a "Spinner" grappling hook device that allows you to tether to distant objects, and pull yourself more quickly to them. There's that, and your gun which can be fired by pressing, and holding the "R2" trigger button. Movement for the ship is a little odd, but ties in the upward/downward, and forward directional controls to the "Left Thumbstick". Side to side turning, on the other hand can be done with the "Right Thumbstick". As far as strafing goes those functions are tied to the "L1", and "R1" shoulder buttons, respectively. I should also mention that you can change ship perspectives from a 3rd person point of view to a slightly 1st person angle, and finally a cockpit view that is more traditional with shooting simulators by pressing "SQUARE". Whichever view you choose you will be guided by a spherical compass with arrows pointing you in the direction you need to go. This goes for each gated level in the game. Aside from the basic objectives I also suspect, but cannot confirm end stage boss fights against the four gods ...

Should you complete "Kromaia Ω" mode, and find yourself wanting more fret not as there are a couple more modes of play available via the "Extras" menu. These extra modes include a single life playthrough mode known as "Pure Mode", as well as an arcade style "Survival" mode. The "Pure Mode" is no doubt reserved for the most hardcore of players as it mimics the core game mode, but doesn't allow for continuations at the checkpoints. All you are given is one life, and the four shields I spoke of earlier. Of course you can still pick up the various power-ups that can extend your play time, somewhat. Something else that sets this, and the "Survival" mode apart is that you get a 'Gradius' inspired selection of ships that each have various stat ratings, and weapon types associated with them. Choosing which ship best suits your style of play is wholly up to you.

When it comes to what "Survival" mode in 'Kromaia Ω' has to offer you'll find that it's not quite like what traditional shmup survival modes offer. Instead you'll find that there is a slight objective that will have you piloting your ship into a series of orange orbs while shooting down the swarms of enemies headed in your direction. When I say "swarms" I'm referring to a decent variety of enemy types that each have their own attack patterns, and bullet hell spray types. You'll find everything from space centipedes to space ships, and even space mines getting between you, and your goal. It should be noted that in every mode available scores are kept, and recorded on a global leaderboard, respectively. You get points for shooting down enemies, asteroids, and even collecting the gold bars that drop from some containers, and enemy types. This scoreboard of sorts wraps up the game nicely, and gives the gamer goals to strive for as well as a decent amount of replay value if they can handle playing the game for extended amounts of time.

Now the Verdict ...

Visually, and sound-wise "Kromaia Ω" is an impressively atmospheric game that will draw you in with it's flashy colors, and immersive universe which is based around a mythology all it's own. Though the playing field is vast, and remarkably beautiful the story is about as simple as they come, unfortunately. It's a basic story of ultimate revenge against the gods carried out by an unnamed spaceship pilot. Seeing as it is a shmup though one can easily look past the plot shortcomings, and enjoy the few modes of play that are given for what they are. At the end of the day (having sampled all the modes of play) 'Kromaia Ω' feels like a high end indie game to me, and in my personal opinion warrants only a $20 - $25 price tag. More so than a $30 one, especially if you go for the digital download version like the one I got. If you were to be interested in buying the physical edition however I think it might be worth the extra money for the collector's value. Depending on which version you opt to buy it could be worth the price, or not. If you plan on forking over the $30 I'd definitely say get the physical retail copy. If not wait for a discount on the digital download version.

For those of you curious about the co-op, or ad hoc multiplayer options the game does include this. It's a sort of shared two player experience in the sense that the four shields are divided up among the two players when playing the game on the same screen in this way. I suppose the trade off might be worth it if you can get some friends in on the action, locally.

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