Dredge takes players on an unexpected journey into cosmic horror from the unlikeliest of settings—a fishing simulator. This unique blend of genres presents an enticing and nuanced experience that manages to captivate players with its simple gameplay mechanics and haunting atmosphere. From the mesmerizing low-poly art style to the engaging storytelling, Dredge offers a compelling 12-hour expedition through haunted open waters that leaves a lasting impression.
At first glance, Dredge presents players with a cryptic narrative, leaving them with minimal context besides their role as a contract fisherman rescued by the townsfolk of Greater Marrow. Armed with a new boat, players are thrust into the depths of the open ocean, where they can explore its mysteries at their own pace. The game’s alluring low-poly art style sets the tone, creating a visually captivating and atmospheric world.
Simplistic Mechanics, Immersive Exploration
While the gameplay mechanics of Dredge are relatively simple, they effectively immerse players in its eerie maritime world. Moving the boat around the open waters, navigating tight spaces, and evading dangers is a breeze, thanks to intuitive controls and the unique implementation of the DualSense controller’s feedback on the PS5. As the game progresses, players unlock new abilities and upgrades, adding depth and strategy to their fishing expeditions.
The Dark Side of the Ocean
Come nightfall in Dredge, the tension rises as fog rolls in and the panic meter begins to increase. The higher the panic meter, the more likely it is for monsters and other obstacles to appear, adding a layer of danger and challenge. To temporarily lower panic, players can turn on their boat’s lights, but this also attracts monsters that can damage the boat. The delicate balance between managing panic and avoiding destruction creates a constant sense of suspense as players must adapt to the shifting world at night.
Storytelling and Characters
Dredge expertly weaves its narrative through dialogue with townsfolk, hidden relics, and bottled notes discovered during fishing expeditions. The story gradually unravels, unveiling hidden agendas and cosmic horror elements that keep players engaged and invested in the mysterious world they find themselves in. The cast of characters is well-developed and likable, adding depth and emotional weight to the overall narrative.
Exploring the Depths and Grinding for Progress
The world of Dredge offers various zones to explore, each with its own unique quests, fish species, and specialized gear requirements. Progression is tied to completing quests and upgrading the fishing boat, allowing access to new fishing areas and improving fishing efficiency. While the need to grind for resources and upgrades can feel monotonous at times, it adds a sense of progression, rewarding players with improved equipment and abilities.
Balancing Risk and Reward
Navigating the open waters in Dredge requires careful planning and decision-making. As players venture farther from friendly settlements, the risk of encountering dangerous sea creatures and hazardous obstacles increases. The limited fast-travel option encourages exploration and strategizing, while the ever-creeping fear of being caught by a sudden sunset keeps players on their toes. Balancing risk and reward adds depth to the gameplay and heightens the overall sense of tension.
Lack of Meaningful Customization
While the upgrade tree offers some room for specialization and choice, Dredge falls short when it comes to meaningful customization options for the fishing boat. The linear upgrade path and limited decision-making opportunities result in a lack of personalization in players’ boats. Ultimately, most players will end up with similar boats, detracting from the potential for unique playstyles and replayability.
A Seamless and Polished Experience
Technical issues are virtually non-existent in Dredge. Its smooth gameplay, absence of bugs or crashes, and frequent autosaves create a seamless and immersive experience. The implementation of the DualSense controller’s features, such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, enhances the gameplay and adds another layer of immersion. Combined with the atmospheric sound design, Dredge delivers a visually and aurally captivating experience.
Dredge presents an unexpected fusion of genres, seamlessly blending cosmic horror, fishing simulation, and exploration. Its mesmerizing low-poly art style, engaging storytelling, and immersive gameplay mechanics create an unforgettable 12-hour journey through haunted waters. While the lack of combat and limited customization options may deter some players, Dredge compensates with its captivating narrative, well-executed mechanics, and balanced gameplay that offers both relaxation and tension. Although there is room for improvement, such as expanding customization options and reducing grinding, Dredge remains a hauntingly unique experience that manages to leave a lasting impression on those who embark on its tumultuous waters.