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Terrian Saga: KR-17 (PC) review

 
Terrian Saga: KR-17 logo
Terrian Saga: KR-17 logo
Terrian Saga: KR-17 logo

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC (reviewed)
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.0
8/ 10


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

We liked?


  • Attractive, if deliberately low-res graphics
  • Soundtrack evoking the era of classic platformers
  • Ultimately, a fun slice of gaming that captures the feel of early 90s titles

Not so much?


  • Prepare to use the keys - analogue controllers do not do the job here
  • Occasional points of directionlessness, especially hitting hard on larger maps
  • Does it appeal far beyond players with a sense of nostalgia for the early 90s?


Final Fiendish Findings?

Terrian Saga: KR-17 feels like a tribute. It isn’t trying to be new, but it does old very, very well – and whether it interests you is likely to depend on whether you see that as something out-dated or as old-school fun.

0
Posted July 13, 2014 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

If it had been released twenty years ago, Terrian Saga: KR-17 would possibly have sat happily as one of the platformers that defined the late 8-bit/mid 16-bit era. And your opinion of the game will likely be matched by your reaction to that last sentence – whether you see it as a retro title reworking a classic set up, or something that has been left behind and moved beyond.

The story is of malfunctioning war robot KR-17, who is left to finish his mission alone after his squad is destroyed. And this is pretty much all that is needed to explain progressing through numerous levels populated by hostile robots and traps.
Terrian Saga: KR-17 screen
Of course, KR-17 isn’t helpless, and has numerous tricks to cope – being able to jump and dash, fire a default laser, carry several ammo-limited secondary weapons, and use J1m. Offering advice to KR-17, J1m is a talking smart missile, also working as a player-guided shot to destroy obstacles and enemies at such distances that it would be game-breaking if it didn’t use ammunition so quickly.

The actual level design is about as classic as it gets – colour-coded doors needing appropriate keycards to open, collectable items (in this case, cogs) lie around to be grabbed, buttons and levers sit across hazards to be used, and there are more than a few platforms floating in the skies. Some parts of the game are very much skill-based – leaping across moving logs carrying you towards staggered, insta-kill electrical grids, for example – but even though deaths can be common, the game tends to throw in save points at key locations. Thanks to being given as many retries as you need, even at the hardest points progress is slowed by a learning curve rather than stopped by vicious design.
Terrian Saga: KR-17 screen
It’s also worth mentioning that the save points display a 3 1/2″ disk when used, and it feels like something more than a way to have older players feel their age. The entire game is styled as an old title, with a soundtrack that evokes the feel of early-90s console titles, and low resolution graphics. And to be clear, this isn’t ultra-stylised low resolution, such as is used by games like Fist of Awesome. This is a game with a lot of detail and a lot more pixels on display… and it works.

The visuals are bright and clear, with a lot of detail despite the low resolution. This goes both for the various characters and the backgrounds, which again revisit the classic standards of the genre (forests, military bases, mountainous backdrops).
Terrian Saga: KR-17 screen
Controls are via the keyboard or a joypad – the 360 controller is supported by default, and my first piece of advice here is “stick with keys”. Despite the game seeming to recreate a console experience, this is an old console experience and so the game is best played with digital controls. But having tried playing with a 360 pad, the analogue stick has significant deadspots when changing directions in the diagonals – something that is essential when using the jetpack pickup. With either the keys or the D-pad (which works far better but still doesn’t feel ideal) this is a clean movement; with the analogue control you’ll often find yourself dropping before the new direction is picked up… and this is a game that regularly makes you navigate around insta-death traps.

If there are any other faults, it is largely regarding level design. Most of the areas are large but keep you moving in the right direction even when looping back on themselves; some, however, will leave you wondering where you may have missed a button to open the exit, backtracking though apparently clear areas until you spot something.

In conclusion

Terrian Saga: KR-17 feels like a tribute – maybe you’ll see it as a late 8-bit platformer, or one of the shareware titles that arrived on PC in the mid-90s when VGA seemed cutting edge. It isn’t trying to be new, but it does old very, very well – and whether it interests you is likely to depend on whether you see that as something out-dated or as old-school fun.

Terrian Saga: KR-17 is available now on Steam; it is also on sale at 20% off the regular until July 16th.


Peter

 
Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.