From the moment you are spawned into the world of Karagon, you are immersed in the atmosphere; for about 30 seconds. After that moment, all sorts of chaos breaks loose. From being chased down by robot dinosaurs twice your level when you haven't even figured out how to craft yet, to accidentally running right into them because you don't see them hiding behind a rock.
Now, let's get something straight right off the bat here; the game is not bad, it just has quirks that could be fixed to make the experience more enjoyable. While there may be quite of few of those negatives to discuss, let's start by discussing some of Karagon's strong suits. First off, let's go right to the graphic quality. The game is stunning from the moment you open your eyes, and the landscapes are very nice to look at. While they may not be the craziest of 4k details, they still make the game more enjoyable.
On the other side of that coin, the brightness and random splashes of bright light into your retinas can be unsettling at first. The only time this appears to happen is when you move between shadows or within the trees, so it isn't something that just occurs out of nowhere. Nonetheless, it is quite startling the first time you witness it.
Mechanically speaking, the game has quite a few very cool features you'd see in Ark or Frozen Flame. Let's take the "taming a robot dinosaur" feature for example. This was awesome! They fight by your side, you can ride them like valiant steeds, and they make fighting monsters and creatures much easier than if you go at them alone. To construct a friend of your own, you collect different materials by killing the different species of creatures that roam the grounds or just shoot these little green orbs from their backs to collect the scrap metal that drops in various sizes. Once one of the monstrosities is defeated, you can use a pickaxe to mine the metal shell which gives you scrap metal.
These materials from other dinosaurs are used to manufacture your own companions at these different colored beacons scattered across all the different biomes. The color of the beacon appears to coincide with the level and type of dino-friend you are trying to create, but just like many things in this game, it is confusing.
Let me give a very good example of both a good feature of the companion and a bad one. The dinosaurs are rideable once you create them, and their stamina lasts much longer than yours does! This is good, and it makes traversing the ginormous world much easier. Plus, they aid you in battle, and honestly, that made the game much better for me. The bad side of these companions is they run into you as you climb a mountain, and knock you 100 feet into the air almost to your death.
I don't mean they occasionally nip at your heels either, I mean constantly, and if they aren't stuck on your achilles they are stuck on a rock, tree, bush, log, or other creature within the game. They get stuck so often that it almost made me want to get them killed by another dinosaur so I didn't have to keep running back to get them unstuck. Now again, they are extremely helpful in battle, as they can almost conquer monsters triple their level. I had a level 19 dinosaur called a Roboar that was an absolute tank and almost killed a level 59 on his own. But him yeeting me to my death twice was enough to make my blood boil.
Speaking of death, prepare your brain to accept the fact that you are going to die about 100 times in the span of an hour. The balance in this game has room for improvement, as the level one dinosaurs were able to 2 shot me when I was level ten. The scaling appears non-existent because even when I felt confident I could kill a level five monster, they slapped me like it was their job. It seems they have a set number of hits in order to kill their prey, rather than an amount of damage, but that isn't clear for sure.
There is plenty to do in the world of Karagon, as you can collect several different materials from bushes, trees, rocks, crystals, and ores. The crafting system is a bit wonky, but it is easy to understand and use. Most things must be crafted from a tool menu, rather than a crafting table. There are different types of crafting tables you can create as you level your "age" up. When I say age, I don't mean your level or how old your character is, I mean the Stone Age, Metal Age, and so on and so forth. You level this age up by scanning the different mechanical monsters with your scanner. This mechanic is a beast by itself, as the only way I was able to successfully scan a dino without dying in a matter of seconds was by jumping onto a high rock and then glitching them out to where they can't hit me. Now, I do not know if this was a personal error, or if this is just how you have to do it, but I got it done.
The guns are actually really cool in this game and are not too difficult to craft. This in itself made the game much more fun to play, as adding an FPS element to any survival game keeps things interesting. Crafting your very own guns also feels satisfying compared to looting them from a chest or finding them out in the open. Some guns even come with an elemental ability, such as the Shock Shotgun that stuns enemies and knocks them back when fired. The weapons are pretty powerful too, so right from the beginning, you do have a fighting chance.
One of the mechanics I still cannot figure out is the talent points and knowledge points. The game's tutorial states you get "Power Cores" from enemies that reside within buildings, and these are what you would use to skill up your Stamina, Health, etc. I killed several enemies within about 15 different buildings and never got one of these elusive cores. Maybe I didn't go to the right buildings or I was not killing the correct enemies, but it was something that frustrated me because I had nine talent points to use in order to make me stronger or even just give me more stamina, and I could not figure out how to use them. This could also be why I died so many times during my playthrough, but I may never know.
One more thing I would love to mention is the building feature. Accessing the Build menu is simple, and the materials are easy to come by, but the actual building is very clunky. Trying to get my walls to line up, face the right way, or even just trying to lay the roof down is absolutely impossible. Trying to make your walls two-high doesn't appear to be possible whatsoever, as you cannot stand on something tall enough such as your workbench or storage chests (yes, I tried) to place the walls on top of one another. I tried to build a basic house for about 45 minutes, got stuck inside my foundation twice, and had to use the unstuck feature to get free. Not to mention the number of times I had to break down something I had just built because it ended up being in the wrong direction or the wrong height. This is one major downfall that needs to be fixed, as it could be executed much better.
Overall, Karagon is a good game with a few little things that could be fixed and changed to make it even better. Yes, there are bugs and there are mechanics that made my brain melt a bit, but it is not a bad survival game. The ideas are there, perfecting them would make this extremely fun to play, especially with friends. In its current state, I would say yes it has fun elements, but personally am not a huge fan of several mechanics that feel unfinished, buggy, and a bit difficult to understand.
TechRaptor previewed Karagon on PC with a copy provided by the publisher/developer. It will be launching for PC on February 14, 2023.