In January 2014, Krautscape was announced by publisher Majesco’s new indie label, Midnight City, along with Double Dragon: Neon on Steam and Slender: The Arrival. Right off the bat, the classy racing game had big peers in its small pond.
In early April of that year, the project with bird cars moved to Steam’s Early Access program to “collect, analyze and engage with the community.” A price for the multiplayer title is set at a reasonable bar of €7.99. The plan is to raise the price to €9.99 after Early Access. That is, if there ever is a post-development era. As of this post, Krautscape is dead. In fact, the racing game was nearly stillborn. We have a video below to discuss yet another hopeless Early Access venture, while watching what happens in real time:
As with many of these multiplayer games, the biggest problem is sustainability. More than one person is required for the dynamics of the game to work, as in getting to first place or bouncing off each other in any competitive manner whatsoever. There are, however, not nearly enough people in the world who play the game for that to be a possibility. Sadly, the other option is an endless stretch that goes nowhere. In the so-called singleplayer portion of the game, this same void is offered as a “free build” variety, which is the same as waiting in a lobby, but without all that pesky hope of actually getting to play a round.
Now, in all fairness, Krautscape is an amazing idea and it’s well executed, as it lets its guests flutter around in the dead air of multiplayer waiting limbo. In particular, its art design is top notch for a game selling for such a low price. Some sharp color differences separate a track in multiple parts, indicating how to trigger new road parts. This presentation, papier-mâché plane car included, gets drenched in black splotches to bring the whole together, where it was separated by its contrast. There aren’t many racing games like that in its circles. Some gravely sounds and high-pitched whirring perfectly complement the dark yet colorful theme. Even mechanically, the difference between driving a car with some weight to switching to a plane that floats across the screen is easily distinguishable. Krautscape is a good game, if it were actually a game. Right now, it’s a concept that’s up for sale.
Chances that Krautscape may one day pick up are astronomically small. There’s a nearly absolute failure rate of any other multiplayer game before it, fading to dust over time. Few are the exceptions that come back from the dead, if there are any. It’s not even possible to play some of the latest Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare content sometimes. Do the math. We only picked up the game because we’re game bundle fans. Indie Gala had put up the project last week and not even the surge of cheap copies could make one lap happen, after 68 minutes of waiting, according to our Steam time.
According to Steam Charts, the racing game hasn’t managed to average one person playing it since two months after its initial launch. It bears repeating: Less than one person a day was playing Krautscape at any time since June of 2014. According to a recent forum post, the developer is still “active” in the development of Krautscape, whatever that may mean. Even so, there is the admittance:
“Progress is slow, there’s just not much to share yet.”
Looking at the updates for the Early Access game, not a lot has been reported since September of 2014, when there was a small bugfix for Sony Dualshock gamepads on OSX. The only comment there says:
“Has this game been abandoned? Because there hasn’t been an update for a while.”
As of right now, buying Krautscape results in purchasing something that won’t be playable, unless some serious effort is put into it. Not everyone will be able to set up a splitscreen to force some life into the game, fewer still will bond around a LAN event. There is no alternative.
The only sliver of hope is that, by some miracle, artificial intelligence (AI) comes to Krautscape. There are a few issues with that. For one, Midnight City recently went through some uncertain changes, as publisher Majesco does more often. The company only recently picked activity back up, though it hasn’t mentioned Krautscape since April of 2014. Secondly, programming AI is a complex issue, certainly one that needs to drive and fly competently. And seeing how development is slow already, it’s doubtful that this can be done. Until then, however, it’s best to stay away from this beautiful, but also very dead game.