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⭐ Review DREDGE

  • jamesyfx
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I heard about this game from word of mouth (can you even believe it?). It was presented to me as a quaint, bite-sized RPG where you take control of a boat, fish and then make money from doing so by selling said fish. After a while, the game opens up and you'll be doing quests (named Pursuits) such as finding specific fish or other items which you dredge up from the ocean.

It's a third-person 3D game with a camera which has been pulled back a fair bit (although you can pull it right in if you want). You just control the boat, and everything you do off the boat (e.g. when docking with a town) is done through menus. There isn't that much to it, and the game knows it. Once you start the game, you get a super-quick introduction and next thing you know, you're thrown into the deep end.

The game has a very quick day-night cycle and you traverse the seas in a Wind Waker-like fashion (actually, the game has a sorta similar look to Wind Waker, as it is done in a 3D cel-shaded type style).

Each time you come across an area where it is possible to fish, a small minigame appears in which you must hit a button at the right time in order to reel the fish in quicker. Unlike games which also feature fishing, such as Stardew Valley, it is not possible to fail. Pressing at the right time only gets you the fish faster. Then, you need to slot it into your cargo hold which is kinda like a battleship board (or a Resident Evil 4 attache case) - you'll have to move and rotate certain fish in order to get everything to slot in nicely.

At first, I was thinking... Where is the challenge then? But that is when I realised... time is of the essence. Speed is everything. The flow of time also plays a huge part in this game too. Like Superhot, time moves when you move. And once the sun starts to go down, hoo-boy.

That is where the meat and potatoes of the game starts to creep out. And you will be creeped out too.

Basically, the game is gorgeous, colourful and inviting during the daytime. At night time, things get weird and... other-worldly. A panic meter appears at the top centre of the screen, showing that your character is beginning to get progressively more anxious and weird things start to happen. Rocks will materialise in front of your eyes out of nowhere, causing your ship to crash...

...Eyes start appearing in the distance, glaring at you from the ocean depths and ominous red effects begin to appear over the seas. You may even see what looks to be another ship heading towards you.. (but its much worse than that). If you're out fishing, sometimes you'll catch a weird, distorted version of a fish... or worst of all, a huge, kraken-like tentacle, a leviathan or huge anglerfish thing will pursue you and try to take you out. There are ways to mitigate these effects (such as turning on a light), but ultimately you'll succumb if you don't get to safety.

So that is the loop of the early game. Wake up, head on out and get back before darkness comes.

But then the game shakes its head at you for playing it safe, and now you find that you are required to go out into the darkness and stay out there for even longer periods. Thankfully, the game has a progression system which allows you to upgrade your ship and other equipment in order to last longer in dangerous waters.

However, I did find that the game was a bit too harsh upfront about giving out those upgrades. You're essentially on your own from the beginning, with only a vague brief about what you should be doing. So getting to where you want to be might be a bit slower than you'd like. Still, this game isn't super long or super big so take that as you will.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic game which can be played in bite-sized chunks. It's very easy to fire it up for 5-10 minutes and then put it down again. Of course, later in the game you'll be required to go on longer journeys, but for the most part it is very accessible.

Once you begin to understand its relatively light systems, you'll have a much better experience. Upgrade your ship, take advantage of the semi-controllable flow of time and don't get too bogged down in the details.

Being a Unity game, you'll find it on all platforms including Switch.

If you like pressing buttons at the right time and Lovecraftian terrors... give DREDGE a go. It's only £20 on Steam.





Note: This game was purchased by myself and I was not assigned to write this. It's my own review.

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