When I was a boy my dad took me fishing. I remember carrying my Power Rangers fishing pole and walking up to that lake thinking that this was going to be the best day ever. People talk about father and son fishing trips all the time with reverence. About two and a half hours later I made up my mind that fishing was boring. As time went on I grew up, but I haven’t grown out of that mentality about fishing. That is what surprised me about the game Dredge. On paper, this should be just as boring as fishing at that river years ago but it’s a game that I legit couldn’t stop playing.
Let’s dive into it.
In Dredge, you play as a Fishman who is shipwrecked and drifts to a strange island town where they give him a new boat. In exchange, you have to work off the cost of the boat by fishing and running errands for the townspeople. That is the story on the surface, but there is an overarching mystery surrounding the area and the town. As you run errands for people, you receive more answers about what is going on overall.
A factor of a story with a good mystery is when you get answers, but those answers create more questions you want to be answered. That is one of the best traits about Dredge. The game’s supernatural story is full of rich suspense and lore. This could have just been a game about fishing, but kudos to the developers, Black Salt Games for providing a narrative that sticks with you.
In Dredge, you control your boat and traverse the waters around a series of islands, fishing and dredging up materials. These materials are used to upgrade your boat and sometimes they are fetch quest items. The game also features a day and night cycle. During the day everything is calm and peaceful, however, during the night the sea’s occupants become more aggressive and dangerous.
In Dredge, you fish and dredge by doing a series of timing-based mini-games. Different fish in the game have different mini-games that you have to do to catch them. The mini-games are varied enough that they don’t feel repetitive. You then take the fish back to the market to sell or take back items to people to complete their quest and further the story.
The Artstyle and The Music:
It’s close, but an argument could be made that the best quality of the game is its artstyle. In fact I don’t think I can name a game that looks quite like this. When you out exploring the world the game has a painting comes to life artstyle. Whereas when you are in town and talking to people Dredge resembles a comic book. It is a fascinating contrast of styles that works really well together.
During the day, especially around sunrise, the game is beautiful in a tranquil way. At night you have to combat a thick fog and haziness as you tread through increasingly dangerous water. The dangerous fish and creatures are marked with an ominous red hue. The game’s artsyle truly makes you think and question if the things around you are there or not. It makes you question whether or not you are in danger and should deviate from your path or keep going toward your goal.
Dredge’s score is absolutely fantastic. There is a gentle instrumental that plays in the morning that feels hopeful and calming. On the flip side, at night there are instrumentals that play that range from providing unnerving suspense to a sense of impending doom. The music flawlessly amplifies everything that’s going on in the game.
There really isn’t much to complain about with this game. A small nitpick though, is that the boats feel slow kind of movement wise. Even when you upgrade your ship, it still feels a bit sluggish. I understand that this was most likely by design to maximize the effectiveness of the day and night cycle, but it still kind of feels a little slow in parts. It is just a small gripe like I said, but if you are looking for a game with fast movement then this game will disappoint you in that regard.
Overall/Should You play Dredge:
Yes, this is an easy recommendation. If you’re the type of gamer that is looking for an addicting game with an intriguing mystery this one is for you. The artsyle and soundtrack are outstanding and it doesn’t have many flaws. While Dredge hasn’t made me change my mind about going fishing again this is the closest I’ve come to reconsidering.
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