Dread Templar review

2023-02-08 by George P

  • Reviewed on

  • Platforms


  • Developer
    T19 Games

  • Publisher
    Fulqrum Publishing

The Old-School Campaign Strikes Back

Dread Templar is a new 90s-inspired shooter that promises a hardcore, exciting, and gory adventure in dozens of handcrafted levels filled with enemies, secrets, loot, and surprises. In Dread Templar you take the role of a vengeance-fuelled superhuman warrior packing an explosive arsenal of guns and sci-fi weapons that descends into a dark dimension to obliterate a seemingly endless army of devilish monstrosities. If this tale sounds quite familiar then you will not be surprised to hear that Dread Templar takes a lot of inspiration from Doom for some of its gameplay elements but especially for its setting, themes, and overall aesthetic. However, it is important to note that while the game uses its retro counterparts as an essential foundation, it does not stop there as it combines in its design formula both modern elements and interesting ideas. But before getting into more specifics I would like to highlight just how pleasantly surprised I was to encounter a retro game with an actual linear retro campaign, which is quite a rare occurrence due to the continued dominance of roguelike procedural generation in the indie scene. And while I am undeniably a big fan of roguelikes, it was truly refreshing to journey through a carefully curated old-school campaign filled with handmade levels set in a wide variety of landscapes, from your standard hellish Doom-like dungeons to Egyptian temples, to haunted shipwrecks, to a corrupted medieval town, and more.

. The level design, while not revolutionary in any way, was engaging enough throughout the experience and also features plenty of secret locations, puzzles, and what the game refers to as “side areas”. Side areas are essentially additional optional compartments within the level itself that provide an extra layer of challenge and of course an extra treasure of rewards for those capable of making it through. Dread Templar markets itself as a hardcore experience and it certainly does not break that promise as the game is indeed pretty challenging. Even at the more standard difficulties, you will meet your doom fairly often if you are not careful, and in the game’s “Nightmare” mode you will require complete mastery of movement, positioning, gunplay, environment, and every single mechanic the game features. “Difficult” and “fair” are a very hard combination to execute correctly in game design but for the most part, Dread Templar does a brilliant job in that regard. While there were certain moments where I felt like the occasional jankiness had overpowered me, for the vast majority of my playthrough I felt like the game provided a fair, polished, and balanced challenge as well as a smooth difficulty curve.

Retro Look, Modern Shooter

While the game does have some elements that provide a touch of replayability such as the horde wave-based defense “Guardian” game mode or the New Game+ option, if you are looking for endless hours of fun then Dread Templar is most likely not the game for you. The main linear campaign, which is the heart of the game, will last for a few hours depending on your difficulty level choice and of course your personal skill. However, if you are like me and you do not mind shorter adventures then you will be pleasantly surprised with how “dense” the game feels. It is not uncommon for game developers to drag out a project’s content in order to artificially pad out the total playtime, usually to the detriment of the overall experience. However, Dread Templar is a game that thankfully strays away from that path.

While a few specific levels can sometimes feel a bit repetitive, the campaign itself acts as a constant stream of additions and extensions that keep the player engaged. In my playthrough, I always felt like the game had established a proper rhythm of introducing new guns, environments, enemies, upgrades, bosses, and more. Dread Templar’s smooth pacing and well-designed progression system not only made the gameplay loop much more enjoyable and diverse but also retained my curiosity, encouraging me to keep playing just to see what else I would encounter around the corner. For its graphics, the game uses a combination of low-res pixel art and contemporary 3D modelling, establishing a sense of retro nostalgia while also aiding Dread Templar’s more modern features. The game’s visual presentation enhances the gameplay loop itself and especially makes the more modern gunplay feel dynamic and responsive.

The Good and the Bland

While the game's art style helps Dread Templar stay true to its retro roots and the overall visual presentation is well coordinated with the gameplay itself, there is also a major negative aspect that becomes obvious early on. Dread Templar is a competent game but also an aesthetically bland one. For example, the environments are nothing special, the soundtrack fits but does not stand out, the gun models all look very standard for an FPS of its kind and the same can be said for most enemy designs which follow the generic undead monstrosity formula that you have probably seen countless times before. Additionally, the fact that Dread Templar decides to settle with the “hellish” theme for its aesthetics also does not help as it is the setting that most of its counterparts also utilize, rendering the game almost visually indistinguishable in what is an increasingly oversaturated genre. But this issue of lack of flavor or specialty goes beyond just aesthetics and affects the gameplay itself.

As mentioned earlier, there are numerous gameplay components that one can praise in Dread Templar, such as the smooth pacing, the balanced difficulty, the weapon variety, the responsive and satisfying gunplay, the well-thought-out sense of progression, and more. However, at the same time, there is no element that you can really describe as unique or exceptional. Dread Templar is an enjoyable and engaging game, but it is one that also fails to forge its own distinct identity not only aesthetically, but also in regard to mechanics, level design, and overall gameplay. As a result, Dread Templar is also not a particularly memorable experience and it is a game that I would most likely not revisit in the future. However, with that on record, Dread Templar is a polished and carefully designed boomer shooter created with a great amount of effort and passion that offers an action-packed campaign and there is no doubt that I had a great time playing through the core content. So, if a few hours of quality FPS fun through a handcrafted old-school campaign containing a wide variety of weapons, enemies, and environments sounds exciting to you, then Dread Templar is certainly worth a try.


Dread Templar is a high-quality 90s-inspired shooter with modern elements that provides a short but carefully handmade retro campaign packed with a wide array of guns, enemies, upgrades, and mechanics. And while the overall experience is fun and engaging, it, unfortunately, fails to develop a unique identity in regards to both gameplay and aesthetics; and is relatively forgettable.