Lovecraft was a genius of storytelling about the unknown, creating environments and remarkable moments in the lines of his books. These same environments last until today, marked by several different projects, including the world of video games. Dredge takes elements from this bizarre world and applies them to a game genre where exploration and fishing are tangled into the same thread.
It all starts when a figure, the player, washes up on the coast of the fishing village of Greater Marrow, which has the presence of an imposing lighthouse, after a fateful event on the high seas, which left his boat badly damaged on the point of being irreparable. Help comes quickly from the mayor of this mysterious village, who thinks the player is the new fisherman. This is all because the former fisherman who helped the village with fresh fish disappeared without a trace. In this sense, he is offered a new boat, but not everything is as easy as it is necessary to pay for this small gift. There are plenty of fish in the surroundings, so catching fish will be a relatively easy task, with a little catch… it is important to return to port before sunset, or you will most certainly have the same outcome as the previous fisherman. What really happened at the time of the disaster? Did he go crazy in the sudden fog that surrounded the boat?
The narrative of this adventure is told through personal interactions between characters, even though there is always something hidden between the lines that reveal some discomfort between the inhabitants of this region and what is lurking on the high seas in the secret of the night. All the pieces of this puzzle will be placed in the right spots as the entire map is explored. The main objective that moves the player will be to capture five very old relics spread across five different regions. Undoubtedly, exploration is very necessary and the key point for the evolution of the vessel itself. Each region will have its particularity, both in terms of aspect and its little history, as well as all the quite”different” fish that can be caught. All exploration is entirely driven by the main storyline that takes the player to all these locations, but in part, it’s also up to the player to do their part, trying to make sense of the messages left in small bottles and reading between the lines of conversation from the interactions with the different characters.
Although strange, Dredge can be a very relaxing game, but without a doubt, it’s a remarkable experience. There’s clearly something special about this title that has me putting hours and hours into moments of fishing and exploring. I wanted to evolve my boat to be able to explore every corner more quickly, or on the other hand, manage to escape all the problems I could encounter during the night. This process is not boring at all, the atmosphere, the soundtrack, and all the little sound notes, like the waves hitting the boat, the wind and the chilling sounds uttered by who knows what, help to keep everything super interesting.
Mechanically it is simple, the premise of fishing is based on the simple click of buttons at the right time, even if you need the necessary material to fish the different species since they are divided into different groups associated with various depths of the ocean. In this sense, specific material is needed to capture them. Each fishing gear, fishing rod or mechanism, object, relic or caught fish, comes in different sizes. The vessel starts with a very modest space to store its contents, so it is necessary to have some kind of strategy to store all the material more efficiently, in a kind of a very interesting puzzle.
It’s been some time since I’ve pored countless hours in a title without even realizing it. Dredge is special and during the 14 hours, that I’ve spent in its world made everything feel like a treat.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Steam acquired by me]