On the surface Dread nautical is a weird and twisted game but plunge into its icy depths and there is a wonderful, deep and intricate title that will tax your logic and planning to the utmost degree.
Dread Nautical is brought to us by Hungarian developer Zen Studios. Yep, the same guys that brought us Pinball FX. I have whittled away so many hours on the Star Wars and Marvel tables on Pinball FX that I was intrigued to see what Zen Studios would deliver when bringing something different to pinball. By Nimah, Dread Nautical is probably as far away as pinball as you could get!
Dread Nautical begins with you on a pleasant cruise aboard the a cruise liner called Hope, when out in the middle of the ocean the ship is transported to another dimension full of Supernatural forces and mysterious malevolent monstrosities.
At this point you chose one of 4 characters to take control of throughout your adventure, A teen girl who lives on the internet, an old school private detective, The cruise ships lounge singer or an escaped Yakuza.
Each character has their own perks and can change the way the game plays dramatically in terms of tactics and recruitment.
Once you have picked your character the rest is simple, recruit survivors to your party, build up your little refuge to accommodate, craft weapons and level up party members in an attempt to reach the 20th floor of the cruise liner.
If all that isn’t hard enough for you then the difficult settings for Dread Nautical leave no room for misinterpretation. I’ll be honest i have been playing on Normal and cant get past the 10th floor. I doubt i will ever be brave enough to click on Insane difficulty!
Zen studios decribe Dread nautical as:
“a moody, tactical, turn-based RPG with roguelike elements and a Twin Peaks flare“
That sums up dread nautical quite well. Each deck is procedurally generated, the members you recruit are weird as hell and would fit right into an episode of Twin Peaks (By Nimah, I am showing my age here) and the lighting, shadows and setting of the cruise liner really give an ominous feel to your surroundings.
Then we have the monsters and abominations that you have to slay. Each monster has its own characteristics and moves making every battle a tactical affair. Walking into a room with three different types of monsters can end up with you sitting back and studying the room like a chessboard before you even make a move.
The turn-based, grid system fits so perfectly in Dread Nautical that I can’t imagine any other type of control interface working at all.
Your initial urge is to blast through all twenty decks as soon as possible and for the first few that’s OK but you quickly find yourself going back to replay decks (again procedurally generated) in order to stock up on food, scraps, and weaponry. Found an awesome weapon that you love and kick ass with? Well, you better hope you have enough scraps to repair it after you have completed the deck or you won’t be taking it out on your next run.
Yeah I said runs instead of level because that is exactly how it feels. Dread Nautical sets the scene so perfectly that you honestly feel as if you are a rag tag bunch of survivors risking live and limb to bring back supplies to your tiny hideaway so that the group can survive.
After each run you will be shown just how hungry every member of your party is. If their hunger drops too low they become less effective when fighting. If you dont feed them or use them too much they become stressed and again will be less effective when in battle.
Upgrading your camp becomes incredibly important. Not just to increase stats like inventory space, health, etc but also building yoga mats to release party members stress. Oh, and if you haven’t built enough beds then new recruits can’t join you!
I haven’t even gotten to the tomes yet! Actually I think I will leave them out. Let you discover their purpose by yourself.
What starts out as fun, twisted and weird little game soon becomes a deep, complex and absorbing fight for survival.
Graphically Dread Nautical is interesting. The characters all have a cartoon-ish look to them but the real beauty is in the amazing use of light and shadows within each room.
As you move from room to room on each deck the use of lighting is simply sublime. From the neon and ultra violet in the casino room to the dark oppressive lightning storms in the garden. So much care and thought as been put into each room that it has created a truly oppressive backdrop to your adventure.
I am fully aware this review is full of praise and hasn’t mentioned any of the downsides to Dread Nautical. That is quite simply because I cant find any!
No this review hasn’t been paid for and here at Stoffel Presents reviews never will be. Quite simply put Dread Nautical is an amazing game and at £15.99 ($19.99) should be played by everyone.
Dread Nautical is a game I can honestly play for months to come. Each character makes the gameplay differently and how you approach the game tactically gives it a massive amount of replayability