Indies are often the big innovators in the gaming space. The team behind Dredge, a single player fishing adventure with a sinister undercurrent, aim to be known for creating games with high immersion, excellent execution and with a bit of a difference from anything you’ve played before.
Dredge up secrets of the past
Developed by the small New Zealand based team Black Salt Games, this is their debut release. It hits PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on March 30th.
There are no spoilers ahead so no caution is needed to proceed with reading this review.
Waking up on a dock in a small island town players take on the role of a fisherman who has come to town to take up the vacant position. In travelling to this island your boat was completely destroyed during very poor visibility at sea.
The local mayor has taken the liberty of providing you with a new boat with which you can fish. This has not been given as a gift and you must provide for the town in order to repay your debts. Your fishy spoils can be sold to the local fishmonger with freshness and rarity of species determining your monetary rewards.
As you progress you will pick up specific orders for customers of the fishmonger for some nice financial returns. You will also meet different characters across different locations on the map who will give you quests, buy loot from you and give you snippets of the story.
The funds you earn can be used to upgrade your ship and equipment. A key aspect of the gameplay is managing inventory. Knowledge of the catch you are after is critical so you can prepare for a voyage. Points around the map allow you to access your off boat storage so you can offload items when not in need. At times you will feel you have multiple plates spinning with reading books to improve mastery, controlling inventory slots, equipping correct gear, and keeping your catch fresh, all while watching the clock to make sure you don’t get stranded in the open sea at night.
Oh and don’t forget to sleep. Early risers catch the
Fishing and dredging items are done with a variety of timing based mini games of sorts. It’s simple yet very effective.
Graphics & Audio
Playing through Dredge feels atmospheric and almost like you are inhabiting a living breathing oil painting. This is accentuated by a brilliant blend of visuals and sound to deliver a chirpy, almost meditative experience by day and a dank harrowing one at night. The contrast is marvellous.
Tiptoeing through thick fog at night trying to avoid rocks really adds some tension as you don’t want to damage your boat or lose any of your precious cargo. If that wasn’t bad enough the risks of night fishing come with some more horrors of the deep. Can you make it back in one piece without being shipwrecked?
Crucial to the staying power of this game is its design. The team have managed to perfectly balance the levelling systems and the unfolding narrative to create an experience that just keeps reeling you back in for more. There are plenty of quests, side quests, an arsenal of upgrades/equipment and an extensive catalogue of fish to catch, which will keep you busy for hours and hours.
For players fishing for trophies, there are 40 to catch – 27 bronze, 8 silver, 4 gold and a platinum.
If there’s anything I could add to this game it would be some co-op experience as this game would be great fun with a crew mate.
Dredge quickly gets its hooks into you with its addictive gameplay loop, while its mysteries will keep you intrigued. The delivery of its story makes it feel like one of the create your own adventure books of old, giving it a unique identity.
If you’re looking for a thoroughly enjoyable, easy to pick up, hard to put down adventure then don your sea legs and don’t sleep on this one.
A tip of the fisherman’s hat to Black Salt Game for delivering an excellent title on their maiden voyage as this indie gem nets itself a shiny Thumb Culture platinum award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.