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Monday, June 24, 2024

DREDGE: A Spawning Point Review

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Gameplay
9
Graphics
7
Audio
8
Atmosphere
10
Dredge is what you get when you start to paint a lovely calming picture of a fishing boat at sea but then you ask a HP Lovecraft fan to add a little flourish. Dredge delivers some excellent fishing and inventory management mechanics with and mixes it in with a sense of fear and unease. There isn't really anything else like it.

There are plenty of games that have been released over the years that deliver on the fishing experience, but what if you wanted to add a little horror into the tackle box? Well, the developers at Black Salt Games have decided to give us exactly that in the form of DREDGE, a chilled fishing game at face value, but if you go beneath the surface you may be surprised at what you find.

You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

What Is DREDGE?

DREDGE begins where every sea-based story should with a storm. Your character’s boat is wrecked and you awake on an island called Greater Marrow with no idea of your own name or why you were out in the storm. You are introduced to the Mayor who helps to repair your boat and allows you to work off your debt by fishing in the local waters and selling what you catch at the local fishmonger – think of Tom Nook as a human with a pocket watch and top hat.

You set out on your merry way with a new purpose to make your fortune. However, if you find yourself out on the water after dusk you will soon start to see strange creatures and oddly coloured clouds that chase you across the sea. Why does the sea become so terrifying at night?

How Does Dredge Play?

Whilst fishing you will need to complete mini-games that require you to complete timed actions to successfully catch your marine life and increase the chance of catching larger or rarer fish. Over time you will meet new people at different docks and be given pursuits to follow which grant additional rewards.

You will need to upgrade your boat using found resources, research further upgrades and update your equipment, which will allow you to fish in different waters, give you more storage, or even have a faster engine allowing you to get to more fishing spots before night falls. 

When night does fall you will only be able to see by the small light mounted to the front of your boat. You must try to make it back to a dock safely which is made more difficult by the fact that you cannot see further than the reach of your light meaning it is far too easy to hit rocks and damage your boat possibly losing some of your cargo in the process.

As you progress further out in the world you will come across stranger areas with more peculiar characters and even more hostile waters filled with large and dangerous creatures. 

DREDGE is easy to control although it does not play as expected, you will need to move your boat using only the left stick, it takes some getting used to and reminds us of those pesky races in the early Sly Cooper games, however the boat has a good weight to it and is easy to control once you get used to this. 

What Do We Like About Dredge?

Many games, especially in the indie space, are instantly recognisable for their art style and we would say DREDGE is no different. With its open waters, wooden buildings and cliff faces, the choice to give the game a cartoon style look is a great one as it often looks like a moving storybook. This helps give players a sense of calm and tranquillity when out on the water during the day, cruising from location to location. 

Along with this when the player has conversations with NPCs these are more like portraits with an abstract styling, these often help to enhance the creepy and often off-putting giving the characters an uneasy feel to them.

What’s Not So Good?

Honestly, for what it is, DREDGE is pretty great. However, it can start to feel pretty repetitive at times and you may not always know where you need to go to complete some tasks. Also some tasks are time sensitive and it can be easy to miss something and not be able to go back to it.

In Conclusion

DREDGE manages to deliver exactly what it promises, a beautiful and peaceful game with some unnerving but not necessarily scary elements. Dredge would never be counted as a full-on horror game as such, but when you find yourself out in the sea at night with very little light or come across an odd NPC with mysterious intentions then you may feel the hairs stood up on the back of your neck. 

Black Salt Games has managed to deliver the best of fishing/farming sim, adding a beautiful map to explore and some great storytelling. It will be difficult to forget your time with DREDGE once you put it down.

You can purchase DREDGE now on Nintendo Switch

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Dredge is what you get when you start to paint a lovely calming picture of a fishing boat at sea but then you ask a HP Lovecraft fan to add a little flourish. Dredge delivers some excellent fishing and inventory management mechanics with and mixes it in with a sense of fear and unease. There isn't really anything else like it.DREDGE: A Spawning Point Review