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Fishing in video games has always been a pastime, often treated as a minigame or thing to do on the side. Now what about living the life of a fisherman on the open sea? Well in Dredge you do just that, you live the life of a person of the sea. However, life on the water and in these parts is not all as it seems. Here I offer my Dredge review and the mysteries that lie at the bottom of these watery depths. So Is Dredge a whale of a good time, or does it belong in Davey Jones’ locker? Read on to see my thoughts on the game.

Spoiler Warning: While the story takes a long while to unravel I will be going over the early parts of the story at the beginning.

Story:

Life on the water is a hard one, fighting storms, nature, and the fish themselves, to earn a living. To feed those who rely on your harvest, and more than anything, survive the harsh conditions. Dredge starts off with our tepid young fisherman seeing an ad for a new fisherman for a town. Sailing as fast as they can through the darkness to make it to the island of Greater Marrow, a thick fog covers the water.

Then suddenly we crash, the fog engulfing and covering the rocks. Hiding the light of the lighthouse guiding those safely back to the dock. After crashing on the cliffs as the fog clears, we awaken the next morning, wet having been saved by the locals. Here we find out that our boat was destroyed beyond repair. But we are given a new one on a loan until we pay it off.

We are asked about helping to sell fish to the monger, to feed the town, and introduced to the fishmonger who handles all things scaly. As well as the shipwright who is able to fix up our little vessel. Here is where the world opens up to us to explore at our leisure.

The Sea At Large

There are 5 island Groups, each with its own fish culture and terrain environments. As we explore more and more of the sea and meet more residents. As you help and learn their stories, you hear of the horrors that lie beneath the surface of the water. People went missing and lost to the inky black depths. Or some people are being hunted or even terrorized by sea beasts that prevent them from being able to continue their lives.

All of this is while the nights and darkness hide something, evil. At night horrors that terrify all the locals are seen, or are they, as nothing seems to be what it is.

The game offers just enough story as you explore the world, finding messages in a bottle. Detailing the diary of other fishermen or maybe one particular one. Add in the stories of each individual resident we meet and the requests they ask for, and the world has much to offer. While it may not be the most upfront with everything, its eerie creepy eldritch horror atmosphere, mixed with the isolation of being alone at sea creates a wonderful story of mystery.

Visual:

In Dredge, the visuals are very interesting. The design of the entire world is simply vibrant. Its all very bright cartoony colors when you’re out in the world. But this is offset by the very dark lines when you see many of the character portraits you meet. They are all heavily stylized to give off an almost eerily decrypt look. Several characters were meant to look creepy and anxious, while others looked worn out, tired, and near the edge of madness.

Think this is all during the day as well. The colors and designs of the fish are exactly what you’d think them to be… Until you find the ones that have been mutated though. Throughout the game you will find twisted and warped aberrations of the fish you see. Like a Normal looking squid, and then its warped aberrations have one that’s a giant gel sac that has tentacles going everywhere, while its other form has gross teeth and twisted tongues coming out of its head.

Then at night, things get even creepier, as you have pure darkness surrounding you, with nothing but your lamp at first to light your way. There in the darkness, you find different nocturnal fish, but also unsettling sights. Things that may or may not be real, lights that travel on their own unsure if they are fellow fishermen, or something else. Everything ties into this unsettling visually vibrant and muted color scheme that just screams spooky.

This color really lends itself to the horror aesthetic in a much different way. While also making everything feel both vibrant and colorful, to then looking muted, dark, and creepy.

Audio:

When it comes to the sounds of Dredge, it has several aspects. The calming and simple sounds of the ocean during the day to the eerie mysterious quiet and unsettling noises at night. During the day you can hear the calm waters lapping against the boat. The cawing of the seagulls and crashing waves as you fight against the sea.

The sounds of the sea are all mixed with a rather quiet and alluring soundtrack. The music of the town each has its own distinct sounds, but more during the day as you sail the background instills a sense of adventure. As you fight the seas to capture a big haul, that is until night falls. In Dredge, once night falls it’s an entirely different feeling.

The sound design is a major key part of this, as the ambiance is always on point. At night the sound is cranked up to creepy as the sounds of the water feel distorted and you start not to be able to trust the sounds you hear. The foghorn you heard in the distance is that of another ship or something else. The sounds of beasts chasing you are increased,

Everything just becomes warped as you try to outrun these unknown horrors. The atmosphere does a complete 180 going from relaxing to an entirely horrifying nightmare. The fear that the sound helps to instill gives the greatest sense of dread, as you debate whether risking it at night is worth it.

Gameplay:

In Dredge, the gameplay loop is a very basic loop you’d expect for a game where you’re fishing. Every day you go out and catch fish, go back to shore, and sell your haul. You can then take that money to buy new equipment for your boat, to be able to fish in newer and different areas, rinse and repeat.

Now while the gameplay loop may sound simple, it really has a lot going on. First, let’s talk about the people you meet. Throughout your time on the seas of Dredge, you will find new ports on each of the islands. There you will meet new residents of each town, and many of them will have their own personalities. Some may offer you information about the area, however, some may ask you to help with a favor. This favor will then bring you on a quest to help them out. This can provide more lore about the world, but it also provides you with items.

These can sometimes be simply money or items to sell, or in other cases, they may provide you with research items to help you expand your tools. And in an even rarer case, they may offer you an item that will take your story toward a new person of interest. This can then lead to a cavalcade of mysteries to solve across all the islands.

Fishing Tools

Now another aspect of the game that is more than meets the eye is the ship itself. As you upgrade your tools using research you will be able to buy newer equipment from the shipwright who will install it on your PC. You have your fishing lines that can catch fish closer to the surface, and pneumatic ones capturing those in the deeper regions. You’ll make newer lights that will help you while you sail at night. Learn to make new pots for catching crabs which you can lay out in different areas. As well as making newer engines to get around faster, and nets to be able to catch more diverse fish.

Not to mention that each type of fish you catch can have different types of fishing minigames that you will participate in to catch them quicker. Add in the fact that there is a day-night cycle, and that time only moves when you’re sailing, fishing, or sleeping and it adds another aspect of having to manage your time carefully not to catch yourself in a bad spot.

Nighttime

As I mentioned several times, nighttime in Dredge is a totally different beast. As things are not what it seems in this world. This is all thanks to an evil otherworldly fog that engulfs the waters at night. Now it would be a Lovecraftian game if there wasn’t an aspect of madness and insanity to it. And Dredge handles this in wonderful ways. You have a sanity meter that builds up your stress, and if it gets too high it will cause you to panic. This is increased when seeing things that you shouldn’t see, staying up too long without sleeping, and more. All this is compounded by the many horrifying sights you’ll see at night. Like the fact that your insanity and madness could create rocks that were never there, to begin with.

At one point I saw a light in the distance and thought it was a fellow fisherman and blared my foghorn. Shortly thereafter I regretted it as I was chased but what I can only say was a ghost ship or worse. When it got close I couldn’t see what it was and didn’t want to find out. Let alone when I explored one of the other islands, my ship was bitten by what I can only describe as a glowing skeleton shark! Things get wild in the world of Dredge. Honestly, the systems all mesh very well together and create a fun experience!

Closing thoughts:

During my Dredge review, I often found myself enjoying my sailing across the waters at peace. Only to have that peace ruined thanks to the nighttime. Or in some cases the weather, I had been trying to outrun twisters on the water or other storms. Not to mention all the insanity of everything.

The game takes the concept of fishing to a whole other level mixing it in with a unique horror aspect that creates this wonderful sensation of dread and isolationism on the water. If you enjoy fishing in a video game or anything Cthulu and Lovecraftian-related eldritch horror, then Dredge is a must-play!

Thank you to Team17 for providing a code for our Dredge Review. The game is currently out on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and on PC through Steam or GOG.

If you want to keep up with me, you can follow me on Twitter or Twitch where I stream often.

Dredge

8.9

Story

9.0/10

Visuals

8.5/10

Audio

9.0/10

Gameplay

9.0/10

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