Developer: Invoker Studios
Publisher: Invoker Studios
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Tested on: PC
Ironkraft: Road to Hell – Preview
Ironkraft: Road to Hell is an action-packed and fast-paced 2.5D side-scrolling car-brawler in the likes of Carmageddon, where you can upgrade your cars to become more deadly – much like the Mad Max vehicle upgrading system. In this post-apocalyptic vehicle driven universe, you’re facing a ton of enemies ranging from Nazis to zombies, or both, to alien technology. The game is currently in Early Access and that certainly shows but it has plenty of room to grow into a killer car-brawler before its planned release in the first quarter of 2016.
Invoker Studios certainly unleashed a “special” game when they released Ironkraft – Road to Hell on Steam as an Early Access game. As a side-scrolling car-brawler, the game features a vehicle upgrading system in the likes of Mad Max and Carmageddon while maintaining the deadliness of the cars in Carmageddon. At the same time, the game also features a certain arcade-like aesthetic, enough to fuel any retro-inspired game fans to join the bandwagon.
Ironkraft takes place in an alternate World War II post-apocalyptic universe where people are living in isolated colonies on Earth. The roads to nearby colonies are unsafe, littered with zombies, Nazis or a mixture of both. Their forces are strengthened with aircrafts and vehicles powered by alien technology. The scattered colonies need to survive with scarce supplies, trading them to gain access to more supplies and this is where you come in. You are a so-called Roadtrader and you deliver a various of goods across the globe.
The entire concept of the game is brilliant and it features many aspects of various well-known games such as Carmageddon and Mad Max, while featuring a setting found in various first person shooters such as Call of Duty 2 and Wolfenstein. Naturally, Ironkraft doesn’t fit in the genre of the latter two although you must shoot your way through the deadly combined German and alien forces.
Visually the game is great with its realistic yet cartoon-like graphics in 2.5D side-scrolling platforming levels. The narrative is told via the means of animated comic-like cutscenes which you can re-watch in the archives. Other than that, the German-inspired aspect is strong in this game as the soundtrack builds upon it as well with its Rammstein-like yet repetitive beats.
Moving on to the gameplay, you will be driving from one colony to another, delivering goods while facing the wrath of the Germans. You can complete missions while doing so, granting the player credits which is a currency to buy goods as well as car parts. Goods can be bought in own city and sold in another for profit, which in turn grants you experience. Notable was that the missions themselves did not grant any experience and it was hard to tell what this experience stood for.
Reinforcing your car can be done by purchasing parts in the garage, making the car heavier but more equipped to deal with the incoming deadly blows. The platforming-like roads are quite tricky with a loaded car but luckily the vehicle is equipped with “blasters” from below – allowing the player to maneuver through any obstacle. More cars such as the Kübelwagen and a Dodge Ambulance can be bought in the garage but figuring out how to unlock them has been a difficult task as the menu interface is not exactly helpful and more suitable for consoles. Perhaps this is where the RPG-like experience system comes in but it’s not implemented well – or not at all – at this time.
Which brings me to the controllers which are only partially supported – the menu and garage is not supported in this case – but full controller support is scheduled. However this doesn’t mean that the game is well playable with the controller as many of the preset buttons are not intuitive enough to play smoothly. The traditional keyboard is certainly advised.
Unsurprisingly the game features some bugs which hopefully will be squatted away soon. They don’t necessarily ruin the gameplay experience but bugs and glitches are never fun to encounter although I’ve only encountered two so far. The first one being a mission bug where you can keep collecting credits from the same mission, allowing you to immediately buy all the upgrades possible. There are only four missions available. Once those are completed, you won’t receive any new ones. The second bug was slightly more “game-breaking” as the in-game overlay of key-bindings could not be closed at all which meant a hard quit of the game.
The concept of a platforming-like car-brawler such as Ironkraft – Road to Hell is great but the execution is moderately lacking, giving it a rather unexpected low gameplay experience with its non-intuitive controller keybindings. The traditional keyboard works as it must but it’s not as relaxing for a casual game – even if the game is action-packed and fast-paced. The vehicle upgrading system is modest but reasonable although one will hope for a larger upgrade system. The RPG-like leveling system is baffling as we are not entirely sure what it stands for, nor if it is even implemented. Aside from that, the game is good but nowhere near perfection but with its expected released in the first quarter of 2016, the developers do have some more time to polish the game.