By: Jeff Cater
If there was ever a game that was developed for and by alien life, Kromaia would be it. Kromaia is a 3D arcade shooter by the group Kraken Empire, published by Rising Star Games, whose name might ring a bell if you’ve had the chance to play Deadly Premonition: Directors Cut. In Kromaia, you are trapped in a psycho-techno world governed by several gods who must be destroyed to secure your freedom.
Kromaia takes only a few short minutes to get a handle on, but to master the small nuances takes a bit more time. The left stick controls your ship’s general movement: left, right, forward, etc. Orientation of your ship is assigned to the right stick, and firing your weapon is designated to the right trigger. While it sounds pretty standard, Kromaia is a fully three-dimensional experience, so using square and circle to tilt your ship left and right is invaluable (albeit a touch difficult to get used to).
The best way to describe the game’s visuals is this: a copy of NES Tron and SNES Star Fox dropped a bunch of acid in a planetarium, but in the ’50s when there wasn’t color television yet. At first, the color palette seems pretty drab, but as you visit new planets and locations the whole experience gets more and more vibrant.
Kromaia‘s UI is very alien-like as well, keeping the HUD to a bare minimum and using simple symbols to designate points of interest. After only a short time, Kromaia will be throwing so many asteroids, neon enemies, pulsing trails and rings at you, that it will becomes very difficult (but not impossible) to keep track of yourself (much less your objective). Ship design is interesting and unique, if not completely bonkers. Each ship consists of spinning gears attached to what look like bullet shell casings.
Weird alien gods will communicate with you regularly, but mostly through text. When they do speak, however, it is deep, metallic and completely chilling and foreboding. The soundtrack does a wonderful job keeping pace with all of the explosive action as well, while still retaining that extraterrestrial structure.
It takes some time to figure out exactly what Kromaia wants from you. At first, you’re tasked with exacting revenge. For whom or what is hazy, but through exploration of the gigantic environments you will help to shed more light on the expectations.
As you start collecting Jump Cores and opening portals, the worlds you visit grow greatly in size, as do the bosses. As you enter a new world, the game fills you in on why this god was wrong, or why that god did something stupid and needed offing.
While traversing the massive and dangerous expanses you will find power-ups for your boosters and weapons. Usually these are found easily en route to an objective, but you would do well to plot a course that will take you through the power-up and then to the core, because as fun as it is to shoot everything in sight, sometimes the best option is to speed away and just outrun the swarm of enemies.
You can also choose between one of four ships later on, that cater to different preferences of combat. So if you grow tired of the linear firing, initial set of Armor, you can check out the melee-focused loadout for some up-close psychedelic shredding.
While it might not be for everyone, Kromaia serves up a unique and intriguing experience unlike anything you’ve played before. Just lay off the hallucinogens while you play. Or, ya know, don’t.