When the name Kritika is thrown around, it’s difficult for Westerners to not immediately think of Kritika: The White Knights. With more than 10 million downloads, the game is definitely popular among mobile users and is considered a fairly successful handheld hack-and-slash RPG. So now En Masse Entertainment (known for TERA) has partnered up with Korean developer Allm to bring the Kritika MMORPG to a Western audience later this month and we got the opportunity to check it out with a Kritika Online Pre-Beta preview.
Kritika Online continues to follow the trend of many Korean developed games that take a long time to reach Europe and North America. Initially released in 2013, Kritika Online also received an English server in SEA last year but the ping is generally too high for anyone outside of the region to enjoy the action combat. With En Masse putting up additional servers, it will now be possible for most of the world to get their hands on Kritika Online.
What is Kritika Online?
I was recently invited to the Kritika Online Pre-Beta test and had the opportunity to speak with representatives from En Masse Entertainment. While the game claims to be an MMORPG, it’s more like an MMO-lite that emphasizes instanced dungeon crawling. For the most part, players will either zone into instances by themselves or with a small group and work their way towards some over-the-top bosses with massive hit points and crazy attacks, or fight against other players in PvP.
Kritika’s aesthetics are incredibly stylized with a heavy emphasis on cel-shading, anime characters, and ridiculous particle effects. It’s an art style that is known to be polarizing, with most players either loving it or hating it. Furthermore, the visual choices have allowed the game to hold up quite well, despite being five-years-old. The characters and monsters still look pretty good, however, it’s obvious from the terrain and texture quality that Kritika isn’t a brand new game.
In the Western release, there will initially be four main characters: Warrior, Gunmage, Rogue, and Reaper. Each class has multiple subclasses that are unlocked early on, and the Korean version also has the Monk class. Unlike many other MMORPGs, the specialization you choose can completely change the way a class works instead of just adding a couple of unique skills.
For example, the Rogue has the Catspaw, Assassin, and Wolf Guardian subclasses. While the Assassin is a typical stealthy, stabby character, the Catspaw is an acrobatic brawler and the Wolf Guardian focuses on using an animal companion. The Gunmage also has three very different progression paths; the Shadow Mage is a midrange brawler that summons a deadly avatar, the Frost Mage slows and freezes enemies while acting as more of a support role, and the Warp Mage has a lot of long-range area-of-effect and debuff attacks.
How Fun is it?
While the idea of ‘fun’ is entirely subjective, I can definitely see Kritika Online appealing to a certain demographic. Anyone who likes anime stylized art and/or twitch-based co-operative dungeon crawlers will probably find some enjoyment from Kritika Online.
Having played through a few missions with each of the starting classes and testing some later dungeons, the combat can be exciting and challenging. Instead of relying on a trinity system, a majority of the classes strictly focus on dealing damage while a couple provide both utility and damage, but there is no dedicated tank or healer. This means that players have to utilize the combo system in order to keep enemies stunned or juggle them in the air; in this case the best defense is a good offense.
As players progress, they will gain access to dozens of new skills and equipment. According to En Masse, there will be a heavy focus on min-maxing and top players will want to play around with different builds until they find the best that works for them. Additionally, instead of investing skill points in every ability, picking a few skills to heavily invest in will generally provide a better outcome. This will be great for hardcore PvPers, or anyone who wants to brave the most dangerous dungeons, but it might be overwhelming for the casual player who just wants to log in and kill some monsters.
What Kritika Online won’t do is scratch that open-world MMORPG itch. Nearly all of the game is instanced besides the town hubs; all of the PvP and PvE missions will take place in zones with small groups of players. There won’t be any sandbox style gameplay, ganking unexpected players who wandered off the beaten path, or traveling with friends in a vast open world. Instead, Kritika will be all about who is the best in condensed gameplay sessions. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, it’s simply what the game is.
As far as the cash shop goes, only time will tell how intrusive it will be. From what I saw, it mostly consisted of costumes, boosters, and the Elite Status subscription, but it’s always possible that this changes on release. The En Masse representative stressed that the shop would be tailored towards Western audiences with a balance between what is fair and also keeping the game profitable. There didn’t appear to be a way to directly purchase power from the shop, and hopefully there isn’t a huge paywall on progression like we’ve seen in other recent free-to-play releases.
When Can You Play it?
If you’re interested in giving Kritika Online a try, the Closed Beta begins on May 24, 2017. Anyone can sign up for free in hopes of getting an invite, but in order to secure access, a Founder’s Pack can be purchased from the game’s website. In comparison with other founder’s purchases I’ve seen in the past, Kritika’s are actually pretty fair.
The cheapest option is $14.99 and provides 2000 En Masse EMP, a special title, and 30 days of Elite Status. If you plan on utilizing the cash shop at all, the EMP alone is cheaper than purchasing it separately. There are also some more expensive options, $29.99 and $74.99 respectively which include additional EMP, a special pet, and costumes for every class.
If you don’t want to purchase a founder’s pack or play email roulette for a chance to access the game, it’s likely that an Open Beta won’t be too far behind the Closed Beta. This, of course, also depends on feedback during the Closed Beta and how well everything performs once the floodgates are opened.Related: Allm, Beta, En Masse Entertainment, Kritika Online, MMORPG, Preview