“Dredge” is a fishing simulation game that blends Gothic horror and Lovecraft themes. Set to be released on March 30, 2023, on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, the game takes you on a fishing journey with a dark twist.
As a fisherman in the 19th-century archipelago, you'll catch all kinds of fish, including mutated creatures, and fit them into a cargo hold represented as an expandable grid. This system requires spatial puzzling skills and is the core of the game's difficulty curve, along with the threats that roam the archipelago by night.
After a shipwreck, you wake up on the dock of Greater Marrow, a town with a shipyard and markets, and the mayor loans you a new boat and enlists you as the official town fisherman. Fishing spots are marked by bubbles with grey silhouettes idling beneath, and reflex-driven mini-games are required to catch fish. The cash from each haul is used to repair and upgrade the boat, expand cargo space, and purchase specialized fishing equipment. Players can also salvage debris and sell lost treasures to the world's sole trader in non-piscine goods.
Quests and Storyline
In parallel to expanding fishing capabilities, players complete simple, two-step story quests that lead them to different islands to search for a special breed of fish, with some puzzles to solve along the way. The major questline involves a secluded collector with a list of eldritch artifacts to dredge from each region, offering cursed yet practical supernatural powers in return. This straightforward framework of bite-sized narrative elements is accompanied by 10 hours of fish quests and upgrading gameplay, where mutated fish command a higher price than regular species.
Horror Themes and Aesthetics
Despite the promising blend of horror themes and fishing simulation, the game is too focused on loot-and-upgrade mechanics, with repetitive gameplay and uninspired storytelling. However, the game's aesthetic appeal, with beautifully illustrated aquatic creatures turning into abominations when they're transported to the surface, is disquieting and rewarding.
The game's attention to detail is evident in the charming design decisions, such as the clock, which only moves when you travel or fish, making time stand still out on the waves. The game's unique blend of horror and aesthetics is also a highlight, as you explore the map's charmingly rendered archipelagos, you'll uncover more than you bargained for.
“Dredge” is a unique fishing simulation game that blends survival horror with Lovecraftian themes. While the gameplay mechanics can be repetitive, the game's aesthetic appeal and horror themes make it a must-play for fans of fishing and horror games. At a price tag of only £20 and with a 10-hour gameplay experience, the game is easy to dip into over a weekend. If you're looking for a unique and satisfying gaming experience, “Dredge” is definitely worth a try.