Developed by indie studio Black Salt Games, Dredge is a cosmic horror fishing game. In this adventure you are a lonely fisherman providing for your local town. However, as the sun goes down things are not what they appear. Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and PC this reasonably priced game can be enjoyed by all.
Welcome To Greater Marrow
In this game you take on the role of a fisherman. After your boat crashes you are loaned one by the mayor which you have to pay off. To do this you must go fishing and provide food for the town, Greater Marrow. As you traverse the waters of this idyllic bay you can hear waves lapping on the shore. Yet, you are warned multiple times that you shouldn’t stay out when night descends.
As the game begins, it feels like any other cosy game. You are greeted with calming music, cool tones, and lovely visuals. Each fishing location is a mini game and once caught you must fit them into your inventory. Initially cargo room is limited as your fish share space with your rod, engines, and other gear. Item management is a strong focus as you slot mackerel and flounders into your hold like a game of fish Tetris.
You then hurtle back to base and sell fish to pay off your debts and pick up quests from other villagers. All seems normal. However, as your confidence grows you do start pushing yourself to stay out later and that is where Dredge starts to shine. This idyllic bay isn’t what it appears as under the surface something evil lurks!
It is at this point exploration kicks up a gear and quest givers send you off to find exotic fish, talk to locals and discover distant locations. As the story progresses through talking to islanders you must piece the mystery together yourself.
Dredging The Depths
As the game opens up, it becomes more than just a fishing adventure. Due to the evil which lurks, you have to upgrade your ship if you want to survive. To do this you have to gather materials from the depths through dredging. Dredging is a great mini game which will help you find materials, treasures, and upgrade parts. But dredging takes time, and you always have to weigh up if it’s safe enough to start. As before you know it, it’s gone dark.
Using materials, you can upgrade your boat’s capacity. You can also amend cargo spaces to make room for advanced fishing gear. These upgrades help you progress through the game and catch different fish. On top of this mechanic, you can also buy or find upgrade parts to conduct research. Upgrade parts can then be used to research new gear like nets, crab pots, and engines.
On top of strong gameplay mechanics, a host of quest givers scatter the islands. Each one tells you more about the world and paints a grim picture. They also provide a variety of tasks which will keep you entertained. These comprise of fish collection quests, fetch quests or puzzle quests. None of which sound ground-breaking but when paired with a disturbing world, each one is a race against sunset.
What Goes Bump In The Night
Dredge’s selling point has to be its Lovecraftian influence. The horror elements pumped into this little fishing game are cleverly done. As night descends you are given a panic meter and the longer, you’re awake the more panicked you become. Get too panicked and crazy things start to happen; rocks appear out of nowhere; birds attack you and sea leviathans strike from the depths. Its horrifyingly brilliant!
As darkness drifts in you are filled with adrenaline as you start to plot a course for the nearest dock. But this is easier said than done. At night, visibility worsens and it’s hard to navigate the world which feels geographically changed. The horror is like a blanket you want to be rid of, but you can’t quite shrug it off. It’s never scream worthy but its unsettling when paired with spooky ambience and shadowy shapes. Just as you start getting braver something will always push you back to a safe harbour.
I didn’t expect Dredge to be as good as it was. Afterall, a fishing horror game doesn’t sound like it would or should be good. Dredge exceeded expectation and I found I couldn’t put it down. It’s calming sounds, gorgeous style and accessible mini games kept me engaged. On top of that was a layer of mystery and horror as the sun went down. This added element, meant the cosy format didn’t go stale.
Of course, it wasn’t all roses. Even though the game has a lot to offer the start is slow. As you build up your confidence to explore you can get tied into the repetitive day and night fishing cycle. The beginning can be a bit of a grind but once you work through it, the game is highly rewarding.
Overall, Dredge was a hidden gem. I didn’t expect much from a fishing game, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker. It offered an interesting story, stylised world, addictive gameplay, and a unique concept. If you are looking for a cosy game with a bit of edge, then pick up Dredge!