Dredge review | The sun settles down into the horizon. On my stopwatch, I saw that I still had 2 more hours of sailing ahead of me. Did I really spend all those hours trying to fill my hold with fish? I don’t get it. Normally I would’ve started my trek back to shore shortly after my lunch. Oh well I sigh, I must’ve lost track of time. Hours pass by and I jerk my head upright. Huh? This isn’t what the weather maps predicted. You turn on your fog lights but without luck. Though the light shines bright, it doesn’t help to cut through this thick fog. Huh? Did I just. Suddenly your mouth runs dry while you franticly start tugging on your foghorn. Because dead ahead of you you see another fog light careening right towards you. You tug the cord of your foghorn again. You know they heard you because you hear their horn as well. While turning the rudder, you notice that… What? They are moving with your motion, and still are coming at you at breakneck speed … Until … The fog suddenly clears and you crash right into some rocks. Lucky for you though, because right around the corner you see the lights of a port, clearly a safe haven… Welcome! This is Dredge. Brought to us by Black Salt Games. In this game, you’re playing a fishing boat. Due to some unlucky mishaps and probably being sleep drunk, you are now this town’s new fisherman. This way you’ll be able to set sail again since you accidentally crashed your ship, while also providing the town with some fresh fish to dine upon. Hurray! Want to set forth and discover what the briny sea has to offer? Then prepare to set sail! This is our review of Dredge!
|Developer||Black Salt Games|
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Storytelling | I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into from the get-go. A fishing boat game? Okay, sure. Let’s have at it ey. But it quickly becomes clear that something’s ‘fishy’ here (get the pun? *wink wink*). At first, you’ll just reel up normal fish, but then things start to get… Weird. At times you’ll see a haze coming off of your fishing spots. I thought, great, some dead fish are over there and I’m the one who gets to clean up the mess… So I went over, started fishing, and ‘oop’, a mutated fish? So I get back to port, when the fishmonger where I normally sell my stuff, starts to get ‘interested’ in what I brought with me. Not the regular pleb stuff, but that one odd-looking cod. It’s from then on that the story really starts to unfold. More and more quests will be given and with that, more of the lore and mystery starts to dawn on you as well. What is the exact mystery that you’ve gotten yourself caught up in? Will you really get out of this one alive? … Did I leave my stove on? MYSTERY! Muhaha.
- Looks great| While looks may deceive, especially with a game that has a simplistic visual art style? Dredge doesn’t underdeliver in the slightest. Its simple style choice makes it so that it actually looks quite amazing for how it is presented rather than a game that is trying to look over the top and then falls short. Those guys over at Black Salt Games really thought this one through and it clearly shows. The ‘cut scenes’ have that 2D art style, somewhat reminiscent of games like Darkest Dungeon, while the in-game world rather makes me feel like I’m playing this game in a Zelda-esque world. The game runs fluidly and while I would’ve loved a bit more sunshine effects? I couldn’t help myself just gazing at my surroundings, enjoying every single detail. From tiny effects in town ports to the monster that lurks deep down at one of the fringe islands. Dredge looks absolutely stunning!
- Atmospheric ambiance| What do you need for a mystery-filled adventure? Atmosphere and ambiance. And Dredge delivers on that front! During the day you’ll have some soothing tunes belting your way. The soft swaying rhythm of the oceans sloshing against the side of your vessel paired with the sounds of seagulls just brings you a sort of comforting blanket of warmth. But that quickly turns around when the sun starts to set. The darkness starts to envelop your vision, bringing a thick fog bank with it. When paranoia starts to set in and the monsters that normally lurk down in the deep finally get their turn of hunting you instead of you hunting them. That’s when you feel that masterfully attuned ‘click’ in the ambiance. Love it!
- Original concept| Honestly, in a world that is constantly being bombarded with new games every other day? Having an original concept (even if it’s been done in the past) is something few game developers dare to do. And for good reason. If the concept crashes and burns that’d mean countless hours would’ve gone up in smoke and all for nothing. But that didn’t stop the developers over at Black Salt Games one bit. And I’m glad they didn’t because hoo boy, what a game they delivered! An eldritch-themed fishing game with an even more interesting story? Way to knock that one out of the park! And a refreshing one at that as well! Fishing is a simple quick-time event. Get the sweet spots and you’ll even win some time. And time is of the essence, but not to worry. Time won’t move forward unless you move forward. God, I know there’s a nice metaphor in there somewhere!
- Inventory clogged| When you first get out there, fishing will really be your go-to way for raking in a tiny bit of cash. But after a while, when you get some upgrades going and passive fishing starts chipping in, you’ll quickly notice that your previously empty ‘cargo hold’ gets filled up real quick-like. Forcing you to return to an island to sell your fish fresh, before they start to rot, and thus lose their value. And while upgrading your boat increases the cargo hold, it only does so with a few spots every time. And even those spots get filled up with bigger fishing equipment, the further down the research path you get. I would’ve wished that my cargo hold and equipment base were 2 separate holds, but hey… I guess we can’t have it all ey?
- Exploitable| There are a few places out in the world that, if you spot them by accident, you’ll never leave. Why? Because you can get infinite resources if you want to. How to do it? I’m not going to say. I happened to stumble into a ‘farm’ area by accident, and it was repeatable every single time. This took away some of that ‘urge’ to really go out there and search for some of the more valuable crafting materials for your boat. Though I didn’t abuse it, for research purposes I needed to know if it was ‘pure chance’ or a repeatable offense. But I guess that some of these things just need to be coded into the game, otherwise you’d never find every item out there.
What we Disliked
- Locked behind paywall| The only thing that I disliked is the paywall. On one of the islands that you can visit, there’s a shack that is locked. I spent multiple hours trying to find a way into that shack but still, I couldn’t find one hint in the dialog that would suggest a way on how I would’ve been able to enter this building. It was only after going through the in-game menu’s that I saw a buy option. This brought me to a store page that sells you the key for real money. Yeah, no thanks. That’s just a tiny cash grab that I honestly dislike in any game.
How long to beat the story | 16 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 20+ hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Any mystery-themed game.
Dredge is by far one of the best games that I’ve played this year. No game-breaking bugs, fluid and smooth gameplay paired with an interesting story makes this game a kind of ‘must play’ in my opinion. While on the surface it looks like a fishing simulator, below the surface it actually isn’t. Kudos!
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