Dredge is an open-world horror fishing game. The game leans into Lovecraftian horror, which works exceptionally well for a fishing game. This is a combination of things that I never thought would be in a game, and it all works.
Lovecraft writes about water, cold, and unfathomable cosmic horror. People are driven mad by things that defy logic and make people feel powerless in the face of creatures far older than humans can comprehend. It is a subject that can make a very effective horror game.
The story also revolves around secrets. The town with a dark secret, an outsider that tries to investigate those secrets, and what happens when people learn hidden or forgotten knowledge. Dredge is an excellent game, in any case! I feel like I’m writing a terrible paper examining horror tropes.
TLDR: One of the better Horror games I’ve played in a while.
Towns with Secrets
The plot of this game boils down to the “stranger comes to a town with a secret trope.” Dredge uses a slower pace that trickles information to the player. When done right, this can be an effective way to scare people.
You play as a fisherman who crashes on the rocks outside the port city, Great Marrow. Your ship was destroyed in the accident. However, the Mayor gives you a boat and sends you off to fish so you can pay off the debt you acquired by taking the ship. I feel like the Mayor of Great Marrow is running a scam, and no one wants to stop him.
The Collector is the most important character in the game. He gives you the task of collecting several relics, which play into the game’s ending. You’ll get one of two endings depending on what you do with the relics.
The first ending has your player being swallowed by a sea monster, and the second ending has you performing a ritual to resurrect your player’s dead wife.
The two major things you must do in this game are fish and dredge. Fishing is pretty straightforward. Dredging is digging up crap off the ocean floor or scavenging from a wrecked ship.
You need the fish to make money and the materials to upgrade your ship and equipment. When you start the game, the mayor lets you know that a portion of your income will be taken to improve the main town, Great Marrow.
You can do a few things when you dock at the main port:
- Sell your fish.
- Talk to the town folk.
- Upgrade and Repair your ship.
- Research improvements for your ship.
There are probably other things that I’ve missed while playing this game. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got most of them in here.
You’ll have a few tasks to do while playing the game. These come from the people that you talk with during the game. Here is a short list:
- Catch specific fish.
- Find artifacts.
- Gather building materials.
- Transport an item from one place to another.
The fishing and dredging boil down to a quick-time event (QTE). It isn’t too hard once you figure out how to do them. The fishing QTE is straightforward; you must click on the green or yellow spots. For dredging, you need to avoid the breaks in the circles.
When I first did a dredge event, I wasn’t sure what the game wanted me to do. After failing at it for a minute or two, I figured it out. I thought it wanted me to do the same thing that the fishing events wanted me to do. I was wrong.
The delivery quests tell the player more about the world. They’re simple to perform, and you’re rewarded with cash upon completing them. You also feel that something strange is happening in these villages. The packages are described as leaking a peculiar black fluid or as crying.
Some quests have the player finding and delivering an item from a shipwreck. These play out the same as the other dredge games. The locations of these items are marked on your map.
Navigation in the game can be frustrating at times, especially at night. At night the fog rolls in and limits your visibility. This creates some jump scares as rocks pop up in your field of vision. In some ways, this makes the game feel more realistic, and in others, it can add to some of the horrors in the game.
This was a minor annoyance. Even during the day, it took a lot of work to tell where you were going. I checked the map multiple times to ensure I was still going the right way.
The game does direct you to several locations. It is relaxing to play during the daytime but a little spooky at night, like you’re playing an old ghost story.
The game looks pretty good. Some things in the game look unsettling, which fits the plot. Specifically, the character portraits look creepy.
When I first looked at them, I thought they looked similar to those in Disco Elysium. Both games have a similar art style concerning the characters. As I kept playing, they reminded me of porcelain dolls.
The character that creeped me out was the Mayor. His expression is locked as an unsettling smile. None of the characters change their expression while talking, but the Mayor gives off some unnerving vibes.
During the day, the world map looks a little cartoonish. It isn’t bad; it is just how it seems to me. The world looks more peaceful than the plot implies. Things get more interesting at night!
The monsters come out at night, and things get much darker and harder to navigate. The screen gets darker when one of the sea monsters gets close to you. It is an effective way to warn you about what is happening.
Other visual cues include sparkling patches of water. This mostly happens at night, and it helps you find important things to advance in the game.
9/10. Dredge is an interesting take on a fishing game. It does a decent job of adding horror into the game, and I like how everything in this world feels off. There is a feeling of paranoia in the game that adds a lot to the story.
- Engaging Story
- Relaxing Gameplay
- Spooky visuals
- Repetitive QTE
- Short Day-to-Night cycle
- It can be too hard to see at night.
Dredge does a great job of incorporating the ideas of a Lovecraft horror story. You come across things that don’t make sense, people who are overly paranoid, and there is a sense that this place is wrong and you shouldn’t be here.
However, your player doesn’t seem to be thrown off by any of this, depending on your dialogue choices, of course. There are dark secrets in the communities that call the islands home, and the game encourages you to explore and unravel those secrets.
I had a lot of fun with this game! The story was good, and the world was fun to explore.