Though it has a lot of challenging fun to offer to the strategically-minded, Kronos is not a game for strategy beginners. Who said war is easy?
You say, “move”; they ask, “how many hexes?” That is the power you hold in your hands upon starting up Battle Worlds: Kronos. Commander. Sir. Superior. You are the one calling the shots in this military-might strategy game; you not only have control over a vast number of units, including land, sea and air, but also hold the lives of countless soldiers in your hands. Based on that description, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for just another military turn-based strategy game. But Battle Worlds: Kronos cranks up the difficulty more than a few notches, meaning the path to success requires a master strategist’s mind.
The game boils down to a turn-based strategy game with two campaigns, each chapter of which containing a set mission. In addition to these primary missions, which are mandatory for game completion, you are also presented with optional missions. These do not have to be completed to finish the mission, but can be very beneficial for you and will give you greater playthrough value overall. Completing optional missions will give you a great sense of achievement in finding everything a chapter has to offer.
Battle Worlds: Kronos‘s stage is set in a bleak future, built around the war surrounding a human-dominated interstellar Empire. Every time the current Emperor dies, the Empire’s major factions incite war clambering for power, and the victor claims domain over the Empire. However, the next war may indeed be the last for a while, as life-prolonging technology ensures the next Emperor will not kick the bucket for quite some time. So where does that leave you? Well, you take the role of a commander whose job is simple: to complete each mission through remotely commanding your units and ensuring victory. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.
This game is anything but easy. As mentioned before, the difficulty in this game is what makes it so compelling, especially for fans of the genre. But there is no way of changing the difficulty, which I felt takes some fun out of the game. While I personally welcome challenge with open arms, I feel that some players will find the game too difficult; even with availability of reinforcements every ten rounds or so, Kronos never lets up and never goes easy on you. The option of an ‘easy’ difficulty after failing a mission so many times would have been a nice touch – but who said war is easy?
One of the highlights of the game is the opening cutscene that plays before the main menu appears. The detail and meaning behind it is extremely interesting and the animation is top-shelf stuff. The first time I started up the game, I was drawn straight into this war-torn world of endless battle and destruction. Most of the decent storytelling is done in pre-mission cutscenes. These in-mission cutscenes are static images with no movement or voice-acting, and frankly get a little in the way of the action. The way the dialogue is presented is unique though; you can select different responses when talking, and you also receive a type of novel-esque descriptive text from your character’s point of view. This keeps the game from being an emotionally-detached affair: they strike up determination to complete the mission, satisfaction when you blow up one of the enemy units, and suspense when you send your troops into the unknown (and annoying) fog of war (more on this later).
Following from the cutscene graphics, the in-game visuals are quite nice overall. While they don’t break any visually-stunning ground, it’s easy to tell what everything is–crucial in the genre–and the static images are detailed and easy on the eye. The layout of the menus both in and out of a mission make it easy to navigate and don’t distract your attention. While the graphics err on the side of plain, it’s the sound that pulls you right into the game’s world. Hearing the explosion of enemy units after losing many of your own is a satisfaction beyond compare.
Pedaling back a bit, let’s get back to that “fog of war” I mentioned earlier. Similar to other strategy games that implement it (Civilization 5, Company of Heroes 2), the fog of war is a way to hide the entire map around you, allowing you to see only the area within a close radius of your units. The fog can be unveiled through capturing satellites, allowing you to see more and more of the battlefield. But I feel that while it’s intentionally challenging, it can also prove to be quite frustrating. On more than one occasion I used my last move to scope out the area, only to find it swarming with bad guys. It kind of put a damper on gameplay to be left helpless in the middle of a teeming warzone.
Despite all these little elements, Battle Worlds has the great ability to make you actually use your head. You can’t just pick it up and play (at least, not if you intend to actually win). It requires you to study–and study hard. You need to read the tutorials on how to manoeuvre, brush up on your units’ capabilities and know the terrain to be an effective commander. As you progress through the game you will acquire new units, most often through capturing enemy depot stations.
Not all missions involve mindlessly blowing up enemy units, though, as there are certain missions which emphasize defense rather than offense. The second mission, for example, sees you protecting four depot trucks that won’t reach their destination without some military assistance. This mission proves how easily you can get swarmed: enemy reinforcements keep rolling in, so a guns-blazing approach won’t get you very far. You need to have excellent management of your situation and a tactical mind that can see a few moves ahead. Going in blind is foolish and will usually mean losing many good units, often resulting in mission failure. By blazing through you can leave slower units behind (such as tanks), which will most likely end up getting flanked and obliterated. Even a tank can’t survive for long with a brigade of enemies firing at it.
There are two campaigns to get through, as well as a multiplayer mode that allows you to test your skills against other players to prove your tactical genius. With so much to offer, Battle Worlds: Kronos will give you a lot of playability, though it might be frustrating for the non-tactically mindful. It may be best to put this game on your to-play list and instead invest some time into some primer strategy titles before tackling this one.
If you’re a fan of strategy games and/or you a good challenge, then this is definitely a game for you. You’ll love the challenging combat and exploring the vast world of Kronos as you drive, raid and blow up swaths of enemies. There’s plenty here to keep you occupied for a long period of time. If, on the other hand, this is your first foray into the strategy genre, then I would proceed with caution; the difficulty might be a potential turn-off. The game will start beating you up fast; you’ll probably feel like surrendering before suffering yet another defeat.
Battle Worlds: Kronos is out now on PC.
- Interesting graphics and visuals
- Great opening cutscene
- A game which requires you to have full knowledge of your units, the controls and your enemy, it makes you need to think of what your next move will be
- Sometimes requires you to need too much knowledge about the layout and what will be coming your way later in the chapter, such as enemy reinforcements
- Not the best game for a beginner of the series to try out with the lack of options for difficulty change