The survival crafting genre has exploded in popularity over the course of the last decade. The market has gotten so oversaturated that it can be difficult for developers to gain any sort of traction. Keplerth is a game that comfortably fits into this category, though strangely, it might be through a lack of trying.
Keplerth was created by a developer named TARO, who, despite my best efforts, remains a bit of an enigma. The reason for this is TARO has had next to no online presence for close to 4 years. This is why you’ve likely never heard of this title prior to this review. Which beckons the question. What is Keplerth?
At its core, Keplerth is a 2D sandbox RPG that focuses on exploration, progression and survival elements. It can be enjoyed as both a single player or multiplayer experience. It recently received its 1.0 update, which I felt was the perfect opportunity to jump in and try it out.
The game starts off with your character emerging from a hibernation capsule on the planet Keplerth. Wondering around, you quickly discover a robot called WM-69. They inform you that two masked individuals captured their companion named Danny, and took her to an undisclosed location. WM-69, upon assessing your abilities, asks you for your help to find her.
Your newly found friend also tells you about a man called Dr Mathew Schip. The Doctor is currently in the process of building a spacecraft to get any stragglers back to Earth. Before being kidnapped, Danny was helping Schip out by gathering resources in exchange for useful items. Upon agreeing to taking over her vacant position, your exploratory journey beings in proper.
I found the story to be rather dull. It’s not because it’s poorly written or overly simple, but more due to the way that it’s portrayed. Anytime that information about a character or event is given, the game provides it to you in the form of an exposition dump. This made it rather difficult to get invested on what was happening, and it ultimately left me uninterested and bored. Thankfully, the insane amount of complexity and depth in the gameplay make up for this in bounds.
Like with all games in this genre, creating a base is mandatory to store all your excess gear, crafting stations, and to simply have a place to call your own. You’ll be able to decorate your new home with various objects, and in an incredibly similar way to Terraria, you’ll house various NPCs in their own rooms. The NPCs aren’t as important in this game, but they are certainly nice addition to have roaming around your base.
One massive positive about Keplerth is gathering materials is very easy. Things like maintaining your farm, which is fairly important to do to keep your hunger levels in check, is incredibly streamlined. This is due to the sci-fi setting which, basically, manages everything for you once you reach a certain point in the game.
The combat in Keplerth may be fairly straight forward, but it is a heck of a lot of fun. You have a fairly sizeable array of weapons to craft, each of them varying in the ways that they operate. You’ll start off with the standard array of swords, axes and clubs, before eventually reaching futuristic gear like laser cannons and Gatling guns.
On top of this, you’ll also gain skills by clearing trials inside the dungeon segments. The skills fit into the standard offensive, defensive and support categories, and are segmented into a specific theme. You are limited to equipping two skills at any given time, though each skill can be upgraded.
My personal favourite skill setup was the Sentry Robot and Fiery Dance. The latter emits flames around you which burn any enemies that get to close. The Sentry Robot, no surprises, allows you to throw out a turret which automatically attacks nearby enemies. There are 16 skills in total, so you’re bound to find a combo setup that you’ll enjoy.
The combat can get a little bit repetitive towards the end of the game, though this is to be expected. If you’ve played V Rising then you’ll be familiar with this combat style. It’s not quite on the same level in terms of fluidity, but it is very enjoyable to say the least.
Traits and Gene System
Levels aren’t something that exist inside Keplerth. Instead, you’ll improve your character through the use of traits. These will enhance things like your chance to critical strike, or allowing you to reflect damage back towards your enemies. You also have knowledge nodes which impact the more passive parts of the game. These include extended building range, and reducing your hunger depletion levels.
You gain traits and knowledge through defeating enemies in the wild. They have a small percentage chance to drop a special item, which, in turn, can then be used to gain a new trait. This creates a system in which you only become more powerful as you explore new areas.
Although it won’t blow you away, the Keplerth art direction does have a good sense of practicality to it. The sprite-work is drawn in a simplistic cartoony aesthetic, and, rather shamelessly, bears an uncanny resemblance to RimWorld. Fortunately, this works to Keplerth’s advantage.
Characters, monsters and other objects are all easily recognisable. You’ll never be confused as to what you’re looking at on screen, even when it comes to the alien themed environments. In addition to this, the different biomes, regions and landmarks all blend in exceedingly well together, and often have no signs of awkward stitching. This effectively means that the random world generation works as intended, so props for that.
The UI design is also impeccable. Areas such as the character HUD and inventory are simple and straight to the point. The more complex RPG screens are lacking tutorials to explain things, but for the most part, they are intuitively designed.
The flash game aesthetics are very prominent in the sound effect department. That isn’t to say it’s a detriment to the game, on the contrary, it enhances the games overall stylistic design. The otherworldly creatures are a great example of this, as they all have convincing interpretations. The only issue here is that the SFX are used sparingly, and the game can sometimes be obscenely quiet.
The musical arrangements in Keplerth range from spaciously ethereal piano pieces, to adrenaline inducing battle themes. The OST is interjected sporadically throughout the game. It’s very similar in its execution to how Mojang utilised their soundtrack in Minecraft. Though admittedly, the quality of music isn’t quite on the same level.
Keplerth is an overall enjoyable survival crafting game. The gameplay mechanics are incredibly fun, albeit rather simple and repetitive. The RPG systems are surprisingly complex, but feel as though they are still waiting to be developed into something more substantial. While the art style is a clear rip off of RimWorld, it has been executed well to suit the game’s needs. As of this review, Keplerth is being sold for a little under £12. At this price, I’d recommend that you give it a shot if you are a fan of games like Terraria or Don’t Starve.