If you’ve ever wanted to explore a Lovecraftian world in nothing but a small boat, Dredge will let you live out that dream. With an open ocean and five different regions to explore there are plenty of fish in the sea in this game. If you want to know if it’s worth dredging this game into your library, read on for our Dredge Review.
In Dredge, you’re a fisherman who comes to a town whose previous fisherman has gone missing. Having lost your own boat you pick up the previous fisherman’s vessel and work to pay off the debt. As you work and discover unique fish, a mystery will start to reveal itself. You’ll begin on multiple pursuits to acquire unique relics for a mysterious man. These relics are literate across the map, and will require you to upgrade your ship, rods, and equipment in order not only to survive but also to catch rare and unique fish for the people found across different docks.
Simple Gameplay, Endless Fun
The simplicity of the gameplay systems in Dredge is what makes it so easy to really get immersed in, from the fishing mechanics and ship upgrades, to the hidden secrets and items to find across the game’s world. Each one feels like it “clicks” without being overly complex, allowing you to explore and engage with the open world around you.
Early on, fishing and earning money are slow – after all you’re working with a beaten-down boat you need to fix! As you complete pursuits with the townspeople, and unlock the ability to dredge up materials from wrecks – you’ll be able to start upgrading your ship. This makes exploring the world faster and lets you catch larger and weirder fish with the use of different rods, nets, and crab pots. The lights are nice when you’re trying not to slam into rocks in the darkness, as well.
The world is wide and literate with coasts and coves to explore across islands big and small. There are a number of Pursuits (quests) that you’ll uncover and complete as you follow the main story, but the hidden pursuits are where you’ll be completing tasks or riddles. With no map markers beyond the main quest, each Pursuit will take some exploration to find and complete. If you’re someone who likes finding hidden tidbits, secrets, or puzzles – there are definitely a few for you to find across the map, and much like the story in the game they all have some dark twist and the fact that you can actually fail them and not be able to start over – means you’ll need to be careful.
Speaking of exploration, each of the 5 areas in Dredge has uniquely different aspects to them that make exploring their secrets satisfying. Each one is its own biome, offering views like tall cliffs, dark swamp, or volcanic waters that house different types of fish, crabs, and dangers within. Getting these relics isn’t straightforward, and you’ll be challenged to explore every nook and cranny of the islands as you seek them out.
Beware The Darkness In Dredge
I’m someone who loves a cozy little exploration game, as well as games that test your ability to survive and grow your strength as you play along. Dredge is something of a mix of both, allowing you to putz around in your little boat catching fish and tinkering with upgrades, but there’s always something lurking around the corner.
Daytime is fairly normal but some of the rarer fish can only be found at night, and the longer you’re out and surrounded by darkness, the more you become panicked. You’ll start seeing things that aren’t there, and until you sleep again, there are plenty of hallucinations in the night to be afraid of. Combined with the dark and mysterious story, this makes such a great combination of (literal) light and dark to the world.
Dredge is a game that is deeply shrouded in mystery, and until the end of the game, all of the different hints and clues around you don’t really click, and I loved that. Having played through and beaten Dredge twice to experience both endings and use my newfound knowledge to understand the clues, I found the ending to be satisfying, but I think the journey to that ending is just as well-crafted and worth your time.
Dredge Review – Final Thoughts
From start to finish, Dredge is a well-crafted experience that is just right. Even if you go for 100% as I did, the game really only takes around 25 hours to beat, and none of those hours overstay their welcome, making it just the right length. There’s a lot to love in the simple QTE mechanics of fishing and Dredging, and you don’t have to completely upgrade your ship to complete the game, which means you can focus a bit more on the world around you as you work towards completing the Pursuits in front of you.
Dredge is easily my best contender for Indie Game of the Year personally, and if you’re not too afraid of the darkness, you may come back for seconds as I did.
Dredge was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the Developer, all screenshots were taken during the process of review. Dredge launches on PC, Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch on March 30, 2023.