dredging review

Dredge did not shy away from the terror of mere feet under my fisherman’s boat. Of course, my bright day is filled with peaceful fishing and soft piano tunes, sailing around in a wacky loop to capture catches and then sell them for money for upgrades and tools. Then dusk fell, my paranoia kicked in, and Dredge grew its horribly mutated teeth.

Life in Dredge is a Lovecraftian hell, ominous and effortless. It started off simple: my poor nameless fisherman sank his boat near the small island town of Greater Marrow. After securing a replacement and a small debt, I quickly started fishing.

The actual act of fishing is relatively simple: when a moving target hits a green area in Dredge’s various mini-games, press a button to fish. They vary in complexity, like a ball that simply goes around in a circle, or one that swings alternately between two curved rods. The real challenge was what to do with the fish after I caught them. The fish in Dredge come in all shapes and sizes, and I have to efficiently place them into the ship’s tiled inventory.

Double tile perch can go almost anywhere, but an L-shaped cod or irregularly forked hammerhead means I have to think a little harder about where everything needs to go. I love this puzzling element of Dredge’s game loop, forcing me to strategize where I want to use up every fishing spot before moving on to the next one. There are also materials that can be used to upgrade ships, which have their own odd shapes to deal with.

(Image source: Black Salt Games)

Not only that, but the assigned slots for my equipment and engines share plots – do I want to equip my boat as a stripped-down, average fishing machine, or save some for more fish and more money Precious land? Playing around with maximizing my efficiency keeps me surprisingly busy during gameplay.

Fish also have a freshness meter that determines how much they can sell for. The fresher the fish, the more coins you will have in your pocket. Freshness levels come into play in side quests, but other than that, I feel like it’s a pointless addition. I’m ferrying back and forth to sell my catch so often that I rarely slip into “stale” or “rotten” ratings, only having problems with bigger treks across the map.


Before I knew it, I had paid off my debt to the slightly shady mayor of Greater Marrow, and even helped some residents with Dredge’s various side quests. A small island not far from me that has been calling my name is the beginning of the true story and all its dangers.

Relics await me scattered across the four surrounding islands, and my goal is to unearth them and return them to a mysterious collector who lives on an island I’ve always been very curious about. Each island has its own quirks – Gale Cliffs has a gigantic monster lurking between the rock walls, while Stellar Basin has ferocious tentacles daring to destroy my ship unless I find a way to appease them.

(Image source: Black Salt Games)

Each island visited brings new fish to catch, new quests to complete, and new dangers to contend with. For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges everyone faced. My biggest setback comes with Gale Cliffs, the first area you go outside of Greater Marrow. It’s easily the most annoying, with no clear way to deal with snake-stalking monsters that are much faster than you, and pops up every time you try to venture between the narrow waters of the cliffs. I’ve had more fun on Dredge’s other islands, and I worry that Gale Cliffs will be a hindrance for frustrated players.

There are a few ways to get around these tricky problems: Giving the relic to the Collector grants you some rather strange and mysterious abilities. Before I headed to Gale Cliffs, I gained the acceleration ability to accelerate along the water even though my engine was still old and wobbly. But these come at a price. As the days and nights went by, one eye at the top of my screen would occasionally open and look around more and more erratically. The Dredge is home to a scare meter that rears its ugly head when the sun goes down and these mystical powers are harnessed.

The more my panic meter increased, the scarier things got. I started hallucinating groups of red-eyed crows. The shadow ship was coming towards my ship, and huge monsters emerged from the water and tore my ship to pieces. I can counteract the nighttime scares a bit by reading certain skill books and installing more lights on my ship, but the paranoia persists anyway.

(Image source: Black Salt Games)

Some fish only come out at night, which means I have to take risks and push myself to take risks, even if I don’t want to. I admire Dredge a lot, but it could have gone further. The day/night cycle was too short and pushed me in another direction where I played too safe. I ventured out as the sun came up, and within minutes I was already battling the horrors of the night. Things got a little easier with ship upgrades–using money, materials, and research parts salvaged from the sea got me faster engines, allowing me to accelerate through the water.

Especially with research parts that are few and far between, and with a lot of equipment to research, it can be a long adventure. For the most part, progress felt good, and I got about 90% of my upgrades done within 20 hours of playing the game. But considering that it takes about half as long to complete a story, even a slight increase in the proportion of the research portion can make a huge difference.

don’t ship it yourself

Anxiety wasn’t the only fear my poor fisherman had to deal with. Some of my catches are not quite like others. Every fish in Dredge has some twisted, distorted variation, from the docile multi-eyed fish to the terrifying gouged-out skates with corroded skin and jaws missing their hinges. Regardless, Dredge’s art direction is gorgeous, but it’s the dire moments that make it look even more gorgeous. I love poking around for these twisted forms, keeping me playing long after I’ve made credits for the game’s short but sweet story.

This is also a kind of story. The selfish part of me wanted more story time to pull things apart, and I saw some predictable parts a mile away. But instead of confronting you directly, Dredge tells its story through what NPCs have to say, information vials floating in the sea, and strange side quests hidden on small islands. I really enjoyed the pieces coming together through all these different avenues, and some of the time-sensitive side quests in particular caught my eye.

(Image source: Black Salt Games)

No quests were tracked on the map either, leaving me to rely on my fisherman’s intuition and wit to remember where everything was. I can jog my memory with a few vague descriptions on the Pursuits board, but leave most of it to me. At the best of times, I was directionally challenged and often lost track of where missions were located, but it also made me pay closer attention to my surroundings and pick out landmarks to get my bearings.

For a game that can be finished in 10-15 hours, Dredge is well worth checking out. If you like scary and fun fishing mini games then this game is definitely for you. It’s not perfect, and its frustrating moments are evident through its finest bite-sized experiences. But that won’t stop me from coming back to fill out its twisted encyclopedia and correct some of the mistakes I made in certain side quests.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.