Dredge Review – Grant Us Eels

For many, fishing is a serene, relaxing hobby. It’s a playful, yet often deadly game, where typically the one holding the rod is in full control. Out on the open seas, this dynamic is often flipped. Manning a trawler for days on end, fighting devastating weather conditions, and drifting away from land for weeks at a time can take a toll on your body and mind. It’s these sorts of conditions that Dredge so neatly encapsulates in a handful of smartly designed mechanics, but it’s the sinister undertone seeping through every crack that makes its fishing expeditions that much more treacherous.

You begin Dredge arriving at a small fishing hamlet on an ever-so-slightly larger island. The town’s mayor is in need of someone to supply its population with fish and loans you a small but capable boat to fulfill that. Fishing is what you’ll do most in Dredge given that you’ll never get the chance to set foot on land, so it’s a blessing that it never feels tedious. Each battle with a creature beneath the crest of the waves plays out as a brief minigame focused on timed button presses. The format of each one changes depending on the class of fish you’re trying to catch, but the basic premise and overall difficulty remains the same. Completing each one isn’t even required for a successful catch. Instead, your ability in each minigame just speeds up the process, which can come in handy when you’re trying to get back to shore before nightfall.

While the wide, sun-kissed ocean is inviting during the 12 hours of daylight you have during each day, it’s an entirely different prospect at night. A thick fog settles in over the wide expanse, with your boat’s lights often struggling to cut through them effectively for navigation. While out at night, your stress levels rise consistently (indicated by a Sauron-like eye that starts moving more erratically the higher the level goes), and with it, the chance for some surreal occurrences. Rocks that you might have been sure weren’t on your path before suddenly appear, damaging your hull and potentially robbing you of some of your current haul. As you press on through the stress, your so-called delusions intensify, with anything from pitch-black ravens with glowing red eyes beginning to circle you to ghostly ships appearing in your periphery and setting themselves on a crash course with your vessel.

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