Dread Delusion Review: Embrace The Pixels In This Engaging Retro-Style RPG

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a touchstone title for the RPG genre, and that influence is deeply apparent in Dread Delusion.
Dread Delusion Key Art. Courtesy of Evolve PR
Dread Delusion Key Art. Courtesy of Evolve PR /

Retro RPGs have experienced a resurgence of late and developer Lovely Hellplace’s Dread Delusion, which came out of early access on Steam on May 14, serves as an excellent example of an Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind-style RPG for modern gamers.

Set in a remote corner of the Oneiric Isles, which is a series of floating islands, Dread Delusion’s setting exists because the surface of its world was destroyed by an apocalypse.

Terrific sound design and a striking art style headline this retro-style RPG.

It’s an intriguing setting, made all the more interesting by the fact that the denizens of the Oneiric Isles defeated their Gods in the God War, meaning that any worship of gods or usage of “unsupervised” magic is not permitted.

Screenshot of Dread Delusion (1)
Dread Delusion screenshot. Courtesy of Evolve PR /

Looks-wise, the game is absolutely striking. While pixel-style art might not be for everyone, Dread Delusion makes terrific use of it. Your enemies are blocky and strange, the landscape of floating islands is marred by jagged cliffs as well as gigantic bioluminescent jade-green mushrooms that tower above you and the sky is a potent shade of magenta. All of those elements combine to make the art of the game a true standout.

While the art is great, the sound design might be even better. The world of Dread Delusion is a living, breathing entity, and the landscape is often pierced by strange, otherworldly shrieks or odd, metallic creaking and clanging – simply as you’re navigating the world.

The enemies as well make haunting, blood-curdling noises upon being defeated, and the standard sounds of doors opening, locks being picked, and swords being swung are also deeply satisfying.

Speaking of swinging swords, the combat is surely not the best, as you don’t really “feel” the enemies as you fight them, but that’s necessarily what the game is all about – this is an exploration game first and foremost, and exploring the Oneiric Isles is certainly a rewarding experience.

Of course, the lack of clear signposting makes it a bit hard to place yourself in the game world, but shortly into the game you’re given the chance to become an amateur cartographer by creating a map of the region, and beyond that, you’ll learn how to traverse the area after enough playtime. And certainly, that dearth of handholding is meant to remind players of the games that inspired it.

Screenshot of Dread Delusion (2)
Dread Delusion screenshot. Courtesy of Evolve PR /

When it comes to RPGs, the level-up system is always an important element, and Delusion’s level-up methodology is reliant on the selfsame “delusions,” which are represented in-game by bluish skulls surrounded by a swirling haze. Interestingly, this “XP” can actually just be found floating out in the world, ready for players to pick them up – though they are also given after completing certain quests.

While there is no spoken dialogue in the game, it is clearly a well-crafted world with plenty of backstory, which can be divulged through dialogue with the game’s myriad inhabitants – many of which are funny characters that deliver amusing dialogue or intriguing history of the region.

These NPCs help to further flesh out the world, and their presence is very reminiscent of, once again, Morrowind, or any Bethesda open-world RPG for that matter, which are known for their kooky and memorable ancillary characters.

Screenshot of Dread Delusion (3)
Dread Delusion screenshot. Courtesy of Evolve PR /

Overall, this game won’t appeal to everyone, but the overall craft with which it was made cannot be denied. The art style, the characters, the enjoyable exploration and, perhaps most importantly, the terrific sound design, make this a terrific retro-style indie RPG, and it was a pleasure to play.

Dread Delusion (PC) Score - 8/10

While its heavily pixelated art style might not be for everyone, if you are into retro-style RPGs, Dread Delusion will be right up your alley. Enjoyable exploration, memorable characters and truly striking artwork make this one a winner.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.