Dread Nautical (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 02.05.2020

Review for Dread Nautical on Nintendo Switch

Dread Nautical is a turn-based tactical RPG with rogue-like elements, where you get to explore a cruise ship in a sort of Bermuda-Triangle-meets-H.P.Lovecraft tale of mystery. If you want to survive, you need to gather supplies, find survivors to add to your party, and upgrade your little base of operations. Standard stuff, right? Well… maybe too standard. Cubed3 checks on what was originally an iOS-only title, to see how it fares on the Nintendo Switch.

You boot up the game, and the creepy, malevolent narrator makes you think that this is a horror-themed experience. It isn't. Sure, you are trapped in a situation where all the people on the ship you are on have disappeared, zombies and other nasties are wondering around, and time itself seems to have entered an infinite, infernal loop, but no, this is too cartoony for its own sake to ever make you feel frightened, or at least anxious, despite the actual gameplay having a kind of survival horror vibe, with you being forced to scavenge the place for supplies, as you are usually sort on them.

Screenshot for Dread Nautical on Nintendo Switch

The cartoony look of it all isn't a problem. The problem is that this doesn't know what it wants to be. So, it's not scary - cool. Is it funny, though? Quirky? Does it have a dark, or goofy sense of humour? A unique… "thing" worth talking about? Frankly, no. This is as lifeless as a title can be, therefore, if you are in need for something with a stronger atmosphere, this isn't it. Is the gameplay aspect of it all any better? Well, it's certainly better, but not substantially. The four main characters players can choose from, for instance, are a taste of things to come, as there's little point in choosing A over B… or C, or D.

Sure, each character is better in some aspect than the rest. The Noir-style detective, for instance, has +1 range in handguns, and has an ability that can help you find more supplies, while the '70s Afro-American badass lady (yeah, they are all just a bunch of stereotypes) is better with boosting her teammates. In the end, nothing about them stands out, so just pick the one whose look you prefer, and start adventuring. Don't think too hard on it. After all, you'll meet more characters along the way, each one with its own set of abilities, and pros and cons.

Screenshot for Dread Nautical on Nintendo Switch

Now, onto the main gameplay loop. The concept of Dread Nautical, is that players need to explore a number of floors; find helpful items, kill baddies, and… well, find even more helpful items, and kill even more baddies. You can also make survivors join your cause, which is done by making them like you, by telling them what they need to hear - sort of like in a job interview. If it sounds too simple, it's because it is. There's nothing really special about it, really, which makes the whole process a bit repetitive. Most importantly, for a tactical game, the element of strategy is barely existent.

Battles won't really test your mettle, as things are mind-numbingly easy to figure out. In fact, losing a battle is usually because you came unprepared, either by not gathering enough items to fight with (as each weapon has a limited amount of uses), or just wasn't lucky. This is a rogue-like after all, so there's a big possibility of not finding, say, a medkit. As for the exploration bit, it all revolves around clicking on plainly marked spots, so again, nothing 'tactical' about it. Even the limited inventory at hand, instead of making things feel tense like in a Resident Evil, it will make you feel frustrated.

Screenshot for Dread Nautical on Nintendo Switch

There's a little bit more depth in the management front. Before each mission players can work on the base; the place where characters can be levelled-up, items can be upgraded or get turned into resources, and so on and forth. You need to think what to do and when a little more carefully here, as what you'll do before heading off to the next floor can really make a difference, whether that's feeding your survivors (and making them more durable), or finding the best loadout for the party that will do the actual adventuring - but again, it's all a bit too casual-friendly to be any exciting.

…And that's the thing with Dread Nautical. It doesn't do anything particularly wrong, but it doesn't do anything considerably better than [Insert Tactical RPG]. Maybe that lack of depth was acceptable on its initial mobile home, but not here - especially since it is now much more pricey! It should also be noted that, for something that's clearly meant to be enjoyed in short bursts, the loading times can be quite long. Starting the game can eat almost three minutes, and each subsequent loading screen usually takes 30 seconds, which makes no sense in such a game.

Screenshot for Dread Nautical on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

In a sea of mediocre, mobile-born, turn-based tactical RPGs, it's easy to find something even more lifeless than Dread Nautical, but that doesn't say much. Zen Studios' creation lacks the depth usually expected from the genre, is way too repetitive, and even seems uncertain of what kind of atmosphere it wants to have. The only dread players will feel here is from the lengthy loading times.

Developer

Zen Studios

Publisher

Zen Studios

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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