“Dredge ↗ is a single-player fisihing adventure with a sinister undercurrent” – as Steam says. I do not want to spoil anything so I split this post into several sections with gradually increasing amount of spoilers. Let me start with a spoiler-free review.
Dredge is awesome. You end up on an island, you have a ship, go fishing - which is implemented via a simple mini-game, sell your catch, talk to townsfolk, discover the islands. Along with the fishing minigame there is a space-management mini-game. Some notable features that you discover very early (or on the steam page) are:
- time moves only if you move, fish, or dredge
- you can talk to townsfolk to get quests
- you have sanity meter shown by an eye at top of the screen
- during night the fog falls
Small tips for potential players:
- let yourself be led by the story
- explore even minor islands when you have a way there
- do not be too afraid to get little insane
- mark things on the map
Go play …
Now, some minor spoileres.
You start on the island being in debt and have to payback the ship the Mayor gave you. It is trivial to complete this, but a nice introduction to the game. You may wish to try to go into the open ocean, but there is no escape. In the unmapped region, there be monsters.
The days are short, so you wake up early and stay up late because the fog is not that dangerous then. Some things are not so nice when you are going little crazy, but it is not the end of the world. You upgrade the ship using part you dredge up from the sea and sell the fish and crabs you catch.
Progress through the story and explore areas where it leads you. The map is naturally divided into five main regions – let the game guide you through which ones you need to visit, but don’t be afraid to explore every part of these regions when you get there. Do not ommit the small islands that are between the areas. There is no rush.
Now, some major spoileres.
The game takes around 10 hours to complete if you rush it. It would take rougly 20 to complete everything in it. There are two endings – the bad is the default one; revealing you arrived to the archipelago to find a way to revive your love. You probably weren’t able to live with that thought, so you let the collector erase your mind. Reviving your love also summons the eldrich creature which is creating the fog and all the trouble in the game. The “good ending” is easy to get if you explore the map normally; you throw away the book that ties the archipelago to the eldrich creature and you get eaten by leviathan, eh.
My issue with this game is simply the untapped potential of it. Everything that is there is good with some minor exceptions. Some issues arise naturally, any may be unsolvable.
story – The overarching story is very simple, while it gives you reason to explore the areas where each has its small sub-story. This is nicely done.
map – Consists of very distinct areas that are very interesting, each with its own danger (excluding the first area). The hints on how to deal with each danger is incorporated to either the story or area, this is very nice.
completionism – When one wants to see everything the game has to offer we encounter backtracking which is common to open-world-like games. I would like to see the fish and people you encountered depicted on the map.
quests – Here I see the biggest potential. Though main set of quests consists of fetch quests, the game creates many interesting variants for it. The clearest offender in this context are the hooded figures, that are interesting creatures, but do not serve any interesting story purpose, and are just little dumb in retrospective. The best quests I think are:
- Moving the builder outside the town to her own new house. Here you have to sacrifice some materials to let her afford to build her new home. You get a new dock for your work.
- Fetching stone tablets for the treasure expert. He reveals translation of the stone pieces he put together and gives you the tablet to open the old lighthouse. There, you get a nice thing, but as it is near the end of the game, it has little impact.
- Stone challenges (technically not quests). Those only hint on what they require and you ought to bring the coorect combination to them.
- Collector reveal and interactions with him.
- Prologue is just well done to introduce the mechanics.
- Giving dog to the researcher.
- Castaway – rescuing him is interesting.
- Recording Rarities – cool but somewhat may be pretty hard to find the one behind the waterfall.
- Best Before – intentionally letting the catch rot
Such interactions are very interesting. Some other quests are just little weird.
- Dockworker’s packages – once complete, the dockworker is basically a zombie for the rest of the game; noone notices, he just stands there, that is it.
- Lost at Sea – though maybe interesting, I just had the item already so the quest didn’t send me anywhere
- Craven Courier – guy is afraid of leviathan, gives you package and deactivates.
- Castaway – the ring you get can be only sold.
- Hooded figures – as mentioned above