I’ve played few games that have such an appropriate title. “Dread” is exactly what I felt anytime I loaded up Dreadlands – partially because of the hostile, oppressive, and atmospheric setting, partially because of a gameplay loop that does its best to stifle any sense of progression. It took only a half-hour of playing to send me digging through my library and discover another Fatshark title with which it shares a lot of DNA – Krater: Shadows over Solside. Dreadlands is another Scandinavian, post-apocalyptic RPG, with an interesting setting, stylish artwork, and amazingly moody soundtrack; however, it too is let down by limited gameplay variety, bland mission design, and wonky difficulty.
Set in a world devastated by war and environmental cataclysms, you pick from one of three gangs that offer a different story arc through the “Dreadlands”, where survival revolves around the hunt for a mysterious substance known as “glow”. You’ve got the Scrappers, experts in junk tech and ranged weapons; the Tribe-Kin, nature worshippers with melee-focussed beasts; or the Skarbacks, modified by cybernetics and capable of both ranged and melee proficiency. It gives players an opportunity to pick a gang that matches their playstyle and encourage replays.
Despite the great premise and varied environments, the narrative only exists as flavour-text for a string of bland missions that, by virtue of the limited gameplay options, almost always involves going from place to place killing other gangs or mutated creatures (though sometimes, mercifully, you might only have to talk to an NPC or deliver an item without combat).
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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9 November 2020
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