Geek to Geek Media (Shield Logo)

Geek to Geek Media

Dread Delusion is a Morrowind Throwback Aimed Directly at my Heart

Key Takeaways
1. Morrowind Vibes with a PS1 aesthetic
2. Simplified in every way, but still satisfying
3. More bugs and jank than you'd expect after Early Access

Morrowind is one of my favorite games of all time.

I like the Fallout version of Bethesda’s formula better, and I’ve probably spent more hours in both Oblivion and Skyrim, but Morrowind holds a special place in my heart.

I played Morrowind alongside my older brother when he spent some time back at my parent’s house while I was in High School and he’d finished College. We played that game constantly, and thanks to its obtuse narrative and quest design it was easier to feel sunken into that world than maybe any other game I have played before or since.

When I first heard Dread Delusion pitched as “hallucinogenic Morrowind“, I knew I was in for a treat.

Mini Morrowind?

Everyone in dread delusion needs your help with something.

Dread Delusion is not ashamed of its inspirations.

You start as a prisoner on a ship arriving on an island nominally controlled by geographically removed from a larger empire. You are inscripted into service in exchange for your freedom and then set off on a long main quest which you might occasionally make progress on while completing side quests. Along the way you level up skills, gather new equipment, and learn new magical abilities.

It is a lot like Morrowind, but if everything was stripped down.

First person melee combat in dread delusion is fine... But it is not what you are here for.

While there is a lot to see in the world, it’s smaller than Morrowind. While there are branching dialogue paths and even multiple outcomes to quests, they are more restrained than Morrowind. Combat is… well, actually, combat was never that great in Morrowind, but it’s even a bit blander here.

Even the visual style feels like it is inspired by imagining Morrowind if it was released for the PS1.

Sleek Simplicity

Little vignettes like a pair of corpses holding each other fill in the backstory of the world of dread delusion.

All that simplification isn’t a complaint, though. Dread Delusion manages to keep the core joys of exploration and story intact in a tighter package.

Instead of a billion bits of junk to pick up, whenever you find a new nook or cranny there will be a simple reward there. It might be a potion, some coin, or a crafting material. The advantage of this slimmed-down experience is that you still get the dopamine hit of finding a thing, but you also know exactly what the thing's use is when you find it. Gold buys things, crafting materials craft things, and so on.

The most exciting collectible to find is a floating blue skull. These sort of work like Heart Pieces in Zelda, but towards leveling. Instead of experience points, you gain steps towards leveling by completing quests or finding these floating blue skulls. Knowing these are out hidden in the world makes exploring extremely enticing.

Bethesda Bugs?

Dread delusion is buggier than i'd like... including missing text prompts in a few quests.

I have been absolutely captivated by Dread Delusion. Supposedly the main story should take about 10 hours, but I’m at more than 15 and haven’t even started exploring the fourth major region of the game. The gameplay itself is simple, but running all over the floating isles checking off quests and meeting bizarre characters is incredibly satisfying.

Unfortunately, I’ve also run into a lot of weird issues that make this game feel less polished than I’d expect after its Early Access run. I’ve found ramps where the physical geometry doesn’t match the visual design, missing text in quest lines, and objects overlapping with each other in a way that makes them impossible to interact with.

In one region, the main save point was in an inn in a city built way above the surface of the ground, but for some reason loading a save there spawned my character before loading the floor. That meant that every time I opened the game I found myself plummeting a few hundred feet to the ground below. Even in a game with a shockingly generous fall damage window, that’s a terrifying way to start playing.

Overtly Obtuse

This early npc in dread delusion is meant to nudge you towards finding a map. I did not listen.

For all its rough edges, I am still having an absolute blast with Dread Delusion. After spending a lot of time with the Fallout games recently, it’s refreshing to step into an adventure that gives up all the modern niceties in favor of asking the player to actually immerse themselves in the world to find their way. There are no quest markers here; heck, you don’t even have a map at the start of things.

You don’t even have a compass unless you stop in a shop, buy one, and then equip it and use it!

Dear reader, the “equipping and using it” part is important. I didn’t realize that was a thing, so I spent my first six hours of the game navigating based on figuring out that one landmark was east of another and working things out from there. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized I did in fact have a working compass since hour two. And also imagine my further embarrassment at hour 12 when I realized there were weathervane-like compass stars along the roadways all over the world and I just had never noticed them.

Final Thoughts

Dread delusion is filled with npcs big and small to interact with.

I have no idea how Dread Delusion would strike newcomers, but retro throwbacks like these aren’t appealing to that audience first. This is a game built for people like me; people who loved being lost in Morrowind; people who still think Stilt Striders are the superior form of fast travel; and people who were addicted to Skooma before they were old enough to drink.

If you grew up on Morrowind, I think you’ll love Dread Delusion just as much as I do.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Quick View
Title:Dread Delusion
Release Date:May 14, 2024
ESRB Rating:Unrated, likely M for Mature
Number of Players:1
Publisher/Developer:DreadXP and Lovely Hellplace
How Long to Beat:10+ Hours
Recommended for fans of:Open World Adventures, Retro Throwbacks, and Jaunty Corpses
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.

Share article

Add A Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

Stock images by Depositphotos | Find our reviews on Open Critic | Privacy Policy | About Geek to Geek Media