REVIEW: Dread Nautical

Dread Nautical is a fairly solid tactical RPG/Rogue-lite that isn’t a game changer but it is quite fun to play nonetheless.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Rogue-lite,
Tactical Turn Based RPG
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
Release date: 29 April, 2020


Dread Nautical is a tactical RPG that takes place on a cruise ship filled with the mutated remains of the ship’s passengers. The game is heavily inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos and you’ll do battle with quite a few different horrors as you search for survivors and explore the different decks. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, do read on, there’s quite a bit to the game.

This is your home base, deep in the bowels of the ship. After each run, you wind up back here where you can use the crafting tables to manage your equipment, among other things.

Story and Gameplay

Truth be told, there actually isn’t much to this game’s story besides talking to any survivors that you meet along the way. The overall story is told through these conversations and notes that you find on each floor. You can view these notes on the loading screen which are deciphered as you find them.

The game’s main focus is its tactical gameplay. Your characters are free to roam around the game world in search of supplies, this is done by your direction, but once combat is initiated with an enemy, you’ll need to defeat your foes before going back to exploration mode. As you explore the game world you’ll frequently come across a variety of weapons, which you can store in your inventory for future use, so long as your inventory isn’t full. Weapons are split into two categories, melee and ranged. Melee weapons include mops, broken bottles, and swords while ranged includes golf balls, darts and pistols. There are also health items such as bandages and medkits around the game world as well.

Conversations between characters are held in a letterbox and close up format which really highlights the nonexistent hands.


As you search the various rooms of each floor you’ll also pick up scrap, which is used for pretty much everything back at your home base. Scrap can be used to build crafting tables, upgrade and repair equipment, upgrade your crafting tables, and build new beds for the survivors who join you in your endeavors.

There are various crafting tables available to you including the workbench, occult study table, and the medical table. The workbench allows you to maintain your weapons and armor. This is pretty much a requirement in the game because repairing your weapons and armor replenishes their uses for combat use. Upgrading them increases their base stats and level. You can also choose to scrap some of your weaker items for scrap to use in other equipment or projects.

The occult table allows you to allocate bonus points into various character attributes, making them much stronger in the process. The amount of points you can allocate depends on the level of the table itself. The medical table allows you to create bandages and medkits to bring with you during a run. You can also relieve the stress of a character using the table as well.

This is the crafting station window. You can see all your weapons and gear on the left, and your actions can be taken on the right.


Combat in Dread Nautical is initiated the moment you get too close to an enemy. Combat plays out depending on your character’s weapons. It’s a very good idea to have both a melee weapon as well as a ranged weapon because you’ll be able to cover any combat situation this way. If the enemy gets too close, use a melee weapon. If they’re too far away but too powerful to get near, use a ranged weapon. Combat is turn based in nature with each character taking their respective turns in an attempt to defeat the opponent.

It’s worth mentioning that with each use, your weapons decrease in durability so you’ll need to be careful not to wear out your best weapons early on. Once the durability reaches zero, you’ll be unable to use the weapon or armor until you repair it. The lower the durability, and the higher the quality of weapon, the more scrap it’ll require to repair it, so keep this in mind.

If the enemy is low on health, I recommend switching to your fists to finish them off so you don’t waste your weapon uses.

Sometimes during combat, you’ll get a cinematic take down like this one.


Overall, Dread Nautical is a fairly solid rogue-lite tactical RPG. The game starts off pretty simple but gets progressively more difficult as the game goes on and you reach higher levels of the ship. It’s also very simple to learn to play as well and features a fairly basic combat system that likely won’t please hardcore tactical fans but for beginners or more casual fans of the genre, you won’t have any trouble with the game. I do kinda wish there was more story elements to the game but since gameplay was its main focus this wasn’t too surprising. Overall, I’ll give Dread Nautical a Save for Later.

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