Review: Dread Templar [PC]
The greatness of the past infused with the best of the present
Revenge is a deadly force. It burns. It consumes. If hot enough, nothing can stop it. For the Dread Templar, revenge is an ally in the depth of a monstrous underworld. And he’s packing serious heat. It’s going to take a lot more than just simple revenge to take on the blood-thirsty monsters that lurk in the depths of darkness.
Since its early access release in 2021, Dread Templar has made a name for itself. In the sea of popular Boomer Shooter’s that have amassed in the past few years, Dread Templar impresses with its FPS hard-hitting gameplay and style. Now, coming out of the shadows for its 1.0 launch, Dread Templar is here.
The only way out of Hell is through it
Betrayed and robbed by the forces of darkness, the player takes to the darkest of the depths to slay every last monster there is. Dread Templar sticks to a simple narrative, but clues to the Dread Templar’s role in the madness are scattered throughout each level. Cryptic messages line the walls in the various locations’ players visit, from temples to demonic dungeons. These monsters wronged you. It’s time you mess them up.
Gameplay takes center stage in Dread Templar. Like other shooters before it, the big focus is on shooting and surviving the enemy. Story is secondary but there is enough to give meaning and purpose to the action of the player. What that reason is, the player must uncover.
Dread Templar is about three things: Speed, aggression, and violence. Enemies are numerous, grotesque, strong, and aggressive. They stop at nothing to attack and end the player. The key is to strike first and strike hard. Shoot until the bullets run dry. Use katanas until the enemy isn’t moving anymore. Dread Templar draw its inspirations from shooters of the 90’s. Quake inspirations are woven into every polygon of the game. This can be seen in the look and feel of the weapons and the environments. Similar to Quake, the world of Dread Templar is dark and macabre. Rivers of lava and dimly lit dungeons permeate the experience.
Dread Templar isn’t entirely old-school, however. Modern shooting conventions are incorporated into the gameplay. Bullet-time allow for quick moves and well-placed shots. A dash button allows for quick bursts of speed for platforms. Headshots are allowed as well. However, there is no regenerating health. Speed is everything. Knowing who to attack and how to do so is essential to survival. Fortunately, there are both autosave and manual save points.
Strike at the Heart of Evil
There have been plenty of retro-inspired shooters as of late. Games like Demon’s Pit draw inspiration from classic games like Doom and Quake. Like those, Dread Templar texture is woven like it was programmed on a Windows 95 desktop PC with a 56k cable modem. And yet, Dread Templar feels remarkably polished and a euphoric sensation. A pumping rock and roll soundtrack pulsates every moment of the experience.
Tools of the Trade
There is an experimentation aspect to the gameplay of Dread Templar. You could shoot an enemy with a dual-wielding set of pistols, but it could be better to shock them first with your electric wrist-dart, then go into bullet-time to put them down. Each weapon in Dread Templar has a secondary fire mode. The standard handguns can turn into suppressed small machine guns. The katana can be transformed into a spear. A regular pump shotgun can turn into a sawed-off shotgun.
Dread Templar goes beyond in that the alternate to each weapon feel and act different. A pump shogun does solid damage at range, but a sawed-off shotgun is devastating up close. Things get even spicier when more otherworldly weapons become involved, such as demonic revolvers and ice rifles. There is plenty to mix and match in the heat of combat.
Exploration is encouraged in Dread Templar. Finding secrets with health pickups and ammo is resourceful, but even more important are the collection of tokens. Collecting tokens allows for perks to be unlocked and assigned to slots. Faster reload times and more damaging bullets are just some of the perks. This encourages repeat play and through examination of each level.
Getting it right
There isn’t much that I can say that is wrong in Dread Templar. The repetitive nature of action games sets in as is typical of all action games. There are cheap deaths and some platforming woes. Some of the enemies tend to feel the same after awhile, save for the big boss fights. These slight chinks in the armor are nothing but the buzzing of slices compared to the larger scope of Dread Templar. It’s a roaring good time and every time I took a break from the game, I wanted to play it more. The feeling of “one more time” is the hallmark of a great game.
Dread Templar rocks! It’s an exhilarating love-letter to the shooters of the past and an electrifying modern take on the genre. The gameplay is familiar but modern. The action is explosive and hard-hitting. The soundtrack is another banger to add to the best of them. Developer T19 Games has done a splendid job in recapturing the magic of the dark retro shooter. They even went a step further in infusing modern elements into the game. Wherever the team goes next, I’ll be sure to bring my electrified katana.
Dread Templar is available on PC through Steam, GOG and the Epic Games Store. It was reviewed on the Steamdeck thanks to a key generously supplied to Mega Visions from publisher Fulqrum.
Dread Templar is more than a love letter to the retro shooter It's an action-packed modern shooter as well. The team clearly made Dread Templar with love and celebration for the art of the fast and swift shooters of the 90s to create a bombastic and electrifying great time!