DREDGE: A Review
DREDGE is a short, but fantastic fishing adventure with some creepy and sinister undercurrents. You play as an unnamed fisherman and captain of your very own fishing trawler. Take your little fishing boat out into the open ocean to fish up over 100 different types of fish. Explore the beautiful, but mysterious archipelago to unearth some mysteries.
Conduct research on new parts for your boat. Buy upgraded engines to move faster, purchase new fishing poles and trawl nets to fish better, and collect building materials to make your boat better able to hold more items. Don’t forget to stop by and speak to the residents of the islands. They may have some quests or pieces of knowledge to impart. Someone even wants you to dredge up artifacts from the past, but can you truly trust them?
Just don’t get caught on the open sea at night. Nothing good happens at night.
The Overall Game
Black Salt Games really did well with the atmosphere and spookiness of DREDGE. The game isn’t meant to be overtly scary, just have hints of eeriness and an underlying sinister feel to it. And it achieves that.
The archipelago is plagued with secrets and mysteries. The art is beautiful, but really builds that creepy atmospheric feel. The NPC portraits depict tough, weathered people. Some are craggy and aging, some are youthful, but haggard, proving that life in tiny fishing villages isn’t always easy.
The dynamic lighting really helps set the scene, too. The main island, The Marrows, has clear seas and bright, beautiful skies. It lulls you into a false sense of security, but as you adventure around, things aren’t quite so safe. The dark hidey holes of Gale Cliffs hide some interesting fishing prospects, but also something a little more ominous. Stellar Basin with its bioluminescent creatures and white sands looks like a sweet beach getaway. At first. The yellow swampy haze of Twisted Strand hides some haunting mysteries. And Devil’s Spine, an island with volcanic vents and rivers, bathed in a fiery red light, holds an even more grim story.
Along with the unnamed nighttime terrors and the mysterious behaviors of the man who tasks you with uncovering the past, it all adds up to achieve that eerie spookiness without being an absolutely terrifying experience.
It’s a Simple, Easy Game
There is not a lot to DREDGE. You don’t control a character, there are no 3D NPCs to visit, no walking through villages or across islands. You only control your little fishing trawler while out to sea. When in port, it’s a simple 2D menu-type interaction. Your options for buildings and people are set out in front of you, and you simply scroll and tap the button to choose which option you want. I honestly liked it a lot. It simplified things. Do I need to visit the fishmonger to sell a load of mackerel? Slide over and click. Is a visit to the Shipwright for new fishing poles in order? Scroll and click. No mindless running across town to get to different people because I forgot something.
There’s also no over complicated crafting systems or gameplay in DREDGE. You explore the different islands in different biomes, you collect information and quests from the handful of people you come across, you dredge up items from the depths, and you fish! It’s perfect for those days when you don’t want to play something complicated, but want to play something.
There are 125 different types of fish to catch in DREDGE, and they all live in different areas. From the shallows of the main island to the deep dark depths of a volcanic island, and even the swamps of a totally different island. There’s no shortage of fish.
The fishing system is easy to use, too. The game implements a few different types of catching mini games, but they’re all essentially the same. You click a button to reel in the line when the timing is right and the necessary zones are lined up. That’s it. It can get repetitive, but it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of the game, I think.
DREDGE is the first game for indie studio Black Salt Games, and it’s a good one. It’s a little short and slightly repetitive, but I think it’s worth a playthrough.
The spooky factor is just enough that the game feels creepy and a little off, but is pretty low-stakes. I’m a fairly anxious gamer, so it’s perfect for me. Even just hearing the music change in Breath of the Wild as a Guardian sees me is enough to get me anxious! It’s really why I like to mostly stick to the cozy games. Plus, the fishing is easy to do. There’s no fighting to match the bobber with the fish like in Stardew Valley. It can be repetitive, but it’s a fishing system I enjoy much more.
I also wish there was a little more to DREDGE. It has so many upgrades for you to get, but there’s really no use for a large portion of them. I want a reason to need those upgrades, other than personal satisfaction.
Ultimately, I give it:
You can find DREDGE on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, and Xbox.
For more fishing, check out Luna’s Fishing Garden, and for something slightly spooky, check out Critter Crops.