Early Doors: Dread Delusion

While Dread Delusion will have been in early access for around 2 years before it hits the planned 2024 1.0 release, I was aware of it a little earlier thanks to a Haunted PS1 demo disk, played through Itch.io if I recall correctly, a few years back. As this expanded version gradually makes its way to the final stretch, lets take a little look at how things fare so far.

Dread Delusion sees you taking on the role of an inquisitor that has been sent to the Oneiric Isles by the Apostatic Union to seek out the leader of the Dark Star Mercenaries, Vela Callose. It’s said she is on the hunk for an artefact of great power which would have repercussions throughout the land if she’s successful. As a confessor you’re pretty much left to pick up her trail alone using any help you can muster along the way.

Once the drawbridge is down and you make your way over to Oneiric, you’re now left to you own devices. Over yonder there’s a town which has the inn you need visit to continue the main questline. There’s nothing stopping you heading in another direction or taking on other jobs tho, aside from having no idea where you are or where you’re going. Take a little time at first to get your bearings and take in the world a little.

Like RPG’s of old, Dread Delusion requires you to build your knowledge of the world. There’s no big quest marker to offer a direction on a map, hell there is no map. You’ll need a compass from a shopkeeper and a map from a cartographer just to see WHERE you are. Every quest you take on gets logged in the journal which will offer a little info on the general direction there at least. Keeping an eye out for landmarks and using the compass signposts will be integral when you first step foot on these cursed lands.

Keep an eye on fatigue too, it caps stamina and reduces stats the more tired you get. A few hours kip at an inn will sort you out, Don’t be daft and sleep rough thinking you can save money as you’ll likely get pick-pocketed in dreamland. If your short of cash just look around, you can pilfer some goods or take on some small shady jobs to get by. Being early access means there’s some things that don’t hold up too well for the moment, mainly weapon variety and the enemy AI which makes the combat a bit easy at times, bit of a chore too unless you mix things up with magic or charm your way through encounters.

Graphically the game definitely has a charm to it that draws you in. Surreal, haunting, dreamlike, fantastical, any or all together those kinda words can be used to describe it. I guess you could say it looks like an acid trip through Morrowind, and that certainly sticks, but there’s more to this world than meets the eye. Exploring it is a treat with many interesting places to find while lost, and the charming PS1 styling holds up even when atmosphere & dread comes to the fore. It’s beyond what a PS1 could actually do of course, but the limited graphics also allow for your own imagination to fill in the blanks sometimes – just like back in the day.

Performance is perfect on my system (R7 5800X3D/32GB/RTX 3090) Sure you’ll look at the screens and wonder what the fuss is about, but considering it runs on Unity I was surprised it ran 4K/120Hz with ease and didn’t have any issues. Unity can be really hit & miss for performance with some games, but its thankfully fine here and there are some options to tweak the visuals more if you want a less retro look.

Dread Delusion tugs on the nostalgia with its retro visuals and old school RPG adventure, but its really the world itself that will drag you in – Exploration is a treat and is the standout aspect so far. Sure its not all on the money yet with weak combat in particular, but we are only at V0.7 so there’s definitely improvements to come. With the recent inclusion of the new Clockwork Kingdom, which further expands the world with new land to explore and quests to complete, the game is ripe for jumping in early if you don’t want to wait to punch that ticket to the Oneiric Isles.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

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