Dredge is one of those concepts that come from the ever-popular mix of something + horror = game we see from indie developers. One part horror game, one part peaceful fishing adventure. While the game doesn’t quite reach huge highs, it is a surprisingly cozy game with a concept I'd like to see tried more often.
You play as a fishing boat captain who has come to a new area hoping for a fresh start as the local fisherman. When their ship runs into rocks, you are left with the town’s loaner ship to go out there and start earning money… and trying not to be out during the night.
The basics of this game revolve around fishing at various spots to catch and then sell those fish at the local port. This will eventually pay off your tab and allow you to buy upgrades and new parts. Each depth you can fish at has a different mini-game for catching. Eventually, you’ll gain the ability to dredge spots for resources that can be used to permanently upgrade your boat in different ways.
And if you just want to play the game like that, there is a peaceful time waiting for you. But just like the ocean itself, there are some hidden depths to uncover.
The horror comes in as you learn more about the area and start to take on missions from a mysterious collector who wants you to gather “objects” from each of the neighboring islands. As you go out further and start to fish at night, things start to get weird. Rocks may appear where there weren’t any before, “things” out on the water may attack you, and you begin to realize that something is not quite right about the area. The different islands offer puzzles and challenges for you to complete in order to get access to the objects. Throughout the world, there are numerous side quests for you to attempt to gain access to more resources or special fishing gear.
The game has a great loop of fishing, horror, upgrading, and exploring. With that said, the depth of the game is a bit lighter than I hoped for.
A Light Haul
Dredge is a game that gives you everything it has to offer relatively early on, which means there aren’t any more hooks (pun intended) to go after. Eventually, you’ll get enough money that you won’t really need to do any more fishing beyond the required ones for quests. I would have liked a bit more interaction between the different kinds of fish you can catch and what you can do on the water.
You’ll get access to special powers that help to speed things up and give you an advantage. While there are “things” that can attack you, you don’t have any direct means of fighting back. The actual sailing of the boat is alright, but you can get into situations near objects where you can’t really see your surroundings all that much due to the camera angles.
If you want to play this game for the main story, it’s only a few hours long, with the side quests definitely adding more time, but not necessarily more depth. Dredge doesn’t overstay its welcome, and I hope this goes on to inspire more “fishy” adventures. I do wonder how much more there is to this kind of gameplay loop, and if a deeper experience would necessarily be a better one.
For fans of horror looking for something a little different, or fishing fans wanting a bit more “bite”, Dredge is a great game and a great concept to check out.
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