When I reviewed the fishing-horror game Dredge back in March, never suffered from a shortage of dangers and hazards. And yet, it was time to expand the game, and that's where the latest DLC offering, "The Pale Reach" arrives, and does so compellingly.
The great thing about this expansion is that it integrates into the main adventure, even if you are just starting out on the main campaign. The DLC updates the main menu, but the Pale Reach isn't a post-game episode nor is it a standalone adventure accessed from the main menu; instead, it adds a brand new location to the existing game world. This new location is an icy winter nightmare, and as if fishing wasn't hard enough as is, it's even more dangerous when there's frost involved.
The sudden inclusion of a new location is jarring, even to the inhabitants of the game world, as one of the merchants whimsically notes how the massive body of ice must have "drifted there". It's a straightforward setup, as you basically need to sail south, but it isn't a short trip, and so even the journey itself takes a toll on the mental health of our lone fisherman.
There's new equipment to use here, fishing equipment specially designed for the frosty region. Although the region can be accessed any time as long as you complete the main tutorial, it almost does feel like post-game content as it assumes and demands a certain level of expertise and development with the game's skillset. In other words, you will need to make substantial progress in the main game before venturing into the Winterland. The key thing is to invest funds into building a stronger and more durable ship, and more importantly, investing time into research. You need to equip the boat with the right gear to progress through the new objectives, and these are generally quite obvious, such as ice breakers and ice rods.
Once you're sufficiently prepared, some interesting adventures and tasks await, most of which involve breaking into uncharted territories where a lot of ice barriers need to be dealt with. Of interest are the new sea creatures to capture and add to your collection, and the process of collecting the new creatures fits nicely into the mission progression.
The Pale Reach isn't exactly a game changer, as it doesn't necessarily add substantial value other than to diehard Dredge fans who simply must have new content. Still, developer Black Salt Games seamlessly and convincingly introduces a brand-new location that stands out from what the base game already offers. In a way, newer players are better off investing in the entire package as they will essentially step into an expanded game world. Avid fans of Dredge will likely enjoy jumping back into the seas, but if you're a player who has long made their peace and moved on to other games, then The Pale Reach just doesn't have enough lure to make the experience feel new again.
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