09/06/2020

๐Ÿ™Dread Nautical | Review | PS4 | "if one of Rob Brydon’s cushy cruises turned bad" ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿšข @ZenIndies #GameDev #IndieGames

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Ever wondered what would happen if one of Rob Brydon’s cushy cruises turned bad?
Or if Jane McDonald hadn’t forged a daytime presenting career, but instead had to fight off hordes of bizarre beasties?
Of course, you have. Anyone who’s been on an ocean liner fears the day it’ll be overrun by marauding monsters with a taste for blood and a penchant for attacking people with suspect accents (more on that later).
It’s a new setting (in my experience at least) for the turn-based stealth/fighting/resource gathering genre – the cruise ship. But this is where you find yourself in Dread Nautical. As one of a choice of disparate characters, including a grizzled PI, a cool kid and a Yakuza gangster, you start the game dazed and confused, with no knowledge of what is going on.

To say much more would spoil things, but you do have a guide, in the shape of Deep South hick, Jed (exhibit A in the ‘accents crime log’) who gives you pointers. 

The game is essentially one of survival. The decks of the ship are increasingly large and creature-riddled, but there’s also greater loot and weapons to plunder, not to mention other survivors to “recruit” to join your cause (which is staying alive, natch, as well as working out what is happening on the ship)
The aesthetic of the game is cartoon horror. Though it has a zombie apocalypse vibe, it isn’t scary. The creatures that lumber towards you are dispatched using standard weapons, like guns and knives, and more improvised, ‘Shaun of the Dead’ options, like lobbed golf balls and a harpoon.
A neat aspect to the gameplay is that when there isn’t an immediate threat, you can run around as speedily as you like. The turn-based, action points side of things only kicks in when you get too close to one of Davy Jones’ rancid pals and then combat mode is engaged.

Combat works well and is straightforward to pick up. If you’ve played X-COM, you’ll know the drill. The main challenge of getting through the game alive is resources. All the weapons have a tendency to break or run out before long, so being judicious is the key.

Add to that the fact that you need to keep your ever-growing entourage alive, with beds constructed and a steady supply of food to consider, and you can see that this survival game has more depth than the ocean lying below the ship... 
So, in essence, this is an adventure mystery version of an X-COM type turn-based fighting game. And, as such, is most enjoyable, though a little repetitive. The quibbles I have are limited, and some are only slightly annoying. The voice acting I referred to earlier is, in places, laughably poor. If the accents are meant to be bad and actually a joke, then great. If not, they’d make Sean Connery’s “Russian” accent in Hunt for the Red October look like a piece of grand imitation. To call them stereotypes would be putting it kindly.

In terms of the gameplay itself, I found that the loading between combatants’ moves was a bit sluggish, reducing the fluency. I’d also argue that the resource side of the game is a bit mean, which leads to the best tactic often being avoiding foes as much as possible, which is not my (admittedly overly macho and Chuck Norris-infused) style.
This game is fun, challenging (even without insane mode with its perma-death) and definitely a refreshingly new mash-up of turn-based and survival gameplay. I’m not sure that it has the longevity or variety of play to be a classic, but it’s worth a good few hours of your lockdown time.

๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ง

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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