LONDON: A fisherman sees his boat crash against the rocks and wakes on the island of Greater Marrow where all is not quite what it seems. “Dredge” combines several gaming formats and mini games as it challenges you to unravel the mysterious forces at play in this world.
There is a simple essence to the game: Sail a small fishing boat out of harm’s way and toward disturbed water where a huge variety of fish await if you have the skills and fishing equipment to catch them. Selling fish allows you to pay off your debts and upgrade your boat, adding a supped-up engine, advanced fishing lines and better tech to catch rarer fish and survive your time at sea.
A resource management game, at heart “Dredge” is an imaginative amalgamation of tasks. Arguably the most complex one is the role-playing mystery that requires you to talk to a range of characters from the Islands who all offer intelligence as to what’s happening, usually in return for a fishing favor. This requires lots of reading, backed up with cross-referencing an encyclopedia of fish, which is not quite the pickup-and-play that navigating the ship involves.
Fishing usually involves micro games of timing, and there is a nice touch of having a Tetris-like challenge of filling your hold with fish of different shapes. The game takes place over a rolling 24-hour clock with the mysterious settings really coming to life at nighttime when your fatigue and stress combine with the darkness and islands and monsters come out of nowhere. Despite the pastel graphics being gorgeous during the day, there is a genuinely disturbing atmosphere after dark.
It is fair to say you must have some interest in fish or fishing to truly enjoy the game, and the multitude of tasks can lead to a bit of drift as you may forget what challenge unlocks which area of progress.
The amount of story provides a depth of narrative, but that does mean a lot of text, which can be hard to work through if you are playing on the Switch unit itself while on the move. That said, if you are willing to persevere and lose yourself in the imaginative world that “Dredge” has built for you, it makes for quite a rewarding experience.