Platform: NSW , PC , PS4 , XONE
Genre: rpg
Release Date: April 29, 2020
Developer: Zen Studios


In what situations did the characters of survival games not find themselves. But I don’t remember such a disaster that caught them during a cruise on a fashionable liner, as in the tactical RPG Dread Nautical. The reason for what happened was not raging weather or another post-apocalypse (it would be better!), But it seems that Cthulhu himself, who entangled the ship with his tentacles in the middle of the ocean and made his way into the heads of passengers.

Cthulhu Date Cruise

Yes, the story described in Dread Nautical is clearly inspired by the work of Lovecraft (Howard Lovecraft). The authors do not talk about this directly, but where it comes from (or rather, tentacles) grows immediately. So, the Nadezhda cruise ship got stuck during a storm in the middle of the ocean, falling into a temporary anomaly and falling into another dimension. And those same tentacles do not allow him to escape. At the same time, a strange voice appeared in the heads of the passengers – most of them went crazy, turned into monsters, and began to kill each other.

Few survived but were cut off from each other on different decks. We play for one of them. First, you need to choose who it will be – a man who looks like a smoked detective from a noir movie, a Japanese man who escaped from the yakuza, a black-skinned little girl or a teenager who does not part with a handheld game console.

Each character has different characteristics and has three unique skills. The former Yakuza, naturally, handles melee weapons well, the “detective” with a cigarette in his mouth stakes on the right gun, the little girl stuns everyone with her cry, and the game-dependent girl knows how to throw a gamepad, equated here to a boomerang.

Groundhog Day

As you can see, the uncomfortable atmosphere of Cthulhu myths in Dread Nautical coexists with humor and irony. And this is even more evident during communication with other survivors. We are just starting the game alone, waking up somewhere at the very bottom, on the first deck. Nearby is a strange guy, but he only gives initial advice on what to do, but he doesn’t go with us to explore the ship, going to other decks by elevator. Although help would be very useful …

Rising higher, we meet more and more dangerous monsters. Some can attack from the start and stun, others scatter around some muck, which heals the enemies, but cripples us, and so on. Often we get ambushed when all the doors are closed and only open after we kill a certain number of critters. Well, escaping, you need to complete the task (find, for example, the source of infection) and breakthrough to the bridge to activate the siren.

The latter acts in a strange way and simply cuts down the character, after which he will again find himself on the first deck and begin his next Groundhog Day – an elevator, a trip to the upper decks, battles, a siren … And so you need to repeat until we reach the 20th on the elevator tier.

Hit anything

During battles, the game goes into the turn-based mode, and exercises familiar from XCOM begin: we spend action points (AP) on moving or attacking with different types of weapons – cold or firearms.

A bunch of murder weapons – mops, throwing knives and darts, oars, harpoons, sabers, scissors, pistols, Molotov cocktails, and so on and so forth. Some may set fire, poison, poison, bleed, or increase the chance of critical damage. And all differ not only in “damage” but also in the amount of AP that is spent on their use.

At the same time, something will not work endlessly – all weapons have a limit on the number of uses, and sooner or later they will have to be repaired. The same thing with consumables and armor, the strength of which decreases as the damage is received.

Also, during battles, you can use unique skills – a “detective”, for example, is able to shoot at several enemies around. And his passive skills allow you to increase the range of a pistol or try to find caches several times during a sortie to find weapons, bandages, resources for crafting, and runes for leveling characters. Loot also remains after defeating every enemy.

You are not alone!

During our sorties, we encounter not only enemies but also rare mind-preserving people. It may be the mannered Italian dancer, who seems to be more concerned with his own hairstyle than the monsters; famous and very narcissistic actress, who just does not like the Italian; the captain of the ship, worrying that he failed his crew; asthma nurse; an old warrior in a helmet and so on.

They just don’t want to join us. First, you need to establish relationships with them, correctly responding to their remarks and fulfilling the requests – the same nurse, for example, urgently needed a new inhaler. And besides, in our shelter on the first deck, there should be enough space for new arrivals. And you also need to consider that an extra mouth will appear – at the end of each day (that is, at the end of a sortie) we distribute food between the characters, otherwise, they will begin to starve and lose health. And finding new servings of food is not so easy. And if there is not enough of her or her beds, you have to leave the one who has trusted the player at the level – and his attitude towards you will worsen.

However, the game is worth the candle. Each new character joining us has his own useful skills and brings with him new weapons. One girl from some secret organization, who really does not like asking about her, is so fired from her rifle that she inflicts twice as much damage as my “detective” with her gun. And besides, the space for loot is increasing – the number of cells in the inventory is limited. Well, in general, the three of them (yes, they are allowed to take only two with them on a mission) are easier to survive.

Collect and survive

For the construction of new beds, we spend resources collected during sorties. But the construction part is not limited to this. There is also a workbench on which we repair and pump equipment, and a table for creating consumables. And on a special altar, we pump characters for the collected runes, improving the main characteristics (health, defense, damage in ranged or melee combat, the number of APs), learning new skills, or increasing the number of cells in the inventory.

And all these workbenches, tables, and altars must also be pumped for resources to open access to new opportunities, to create/improve even more and better. Therefore, the question of where to invest (and whom to feed) is quite acute. Yes, in principle, there is an option to return to already completed decks to dig up materials, but there is another problem – the more we accumulate the same runes, the higher the infection level, the more monsters and the stronger they are. So we actually influence the level of complexity.

In general, the degree of hardcore in Dread Nautical, as usual, depends on the choice of difficulty at the start of the game. On normal after the death of the protagonist, time is simply rewound to the beginning of the day and you will only lose what you managed to collect during the sortie. At a difficult level, the equipment that you took with you will disappear, the survivors who did not have time to take on the team will die, and the partners will be lost – you can find and hire them again. And only on the “hardcore” the game opens to the full and gives the desired acuity of sensations – according to the classic “bagels” in case of death, you have to start all over again.

Laugh through horror

The disadvantages of Dread Nautical could be the comparative primitiveness of a tactical system, where there are no shelters, the use of heights, and so on. On the other hand, this is partly offset by the abundance of weapons, interesting skills of the characters, and, for example, the ability to go behind enemy lines or the flank to inflict increased damage.

At first, it’s also not very clear how to respond to a particular survivor in order to gain his trust, because each of them is a person with his own cockroaches and motives (and this, by the way, is very cool!). And besides, voices act on everyone and in general the situation in which they find themselves – some may seem to be nonsense, which makes it only more interesting.

Then, communicating with others, we learn that he does not like to be questioned about his stories, and such a girl does not want to be questioned about her former duty station. Well, what does the Italian dancer say when he asks in tears if his hair has gone bad, I think you yourself will guess.

This mixture of French with Nizhny Novgorod, that is, Lovecraftian madness with humor and girls-gamers, can also distort someone. But personally, I did not warp. On the contrary, this (like the funny cartoon graphics) gave Dread Nautical charm.

Dread Nautical is really an unusual “survivor”, which, in theory, can disappoint those who expected from it the most serious immersion in the abysses of Lovecraft madness or tactically advanced battles. But the essence is precisely in the mixture of different styles and ideas, from which a unique and generally interesting game has turned out in its own way. You just have to go through it at high difficulty levels right away. Alas, there are purely gameplay flaws, but I simply have to recommend Dread Nautical to all fans of the genre.

Pros: colorful setting at the junction of Cthulhu myths and comedy; funny characters with their own characters and skills, which are not so easy to recruit in their ranks; good tactical battles, where many types of weapons and skills are used; not the most detailed, but the competent system for detuning the base and leveling characters; flexible complexity setting; stylish picture; music that fits well into the atmosphere.

Cons: in battles, there are not enough advanced tactical capabilities; the mechanics of survival could be more detailed.


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