This is another of my game reviews written long after a review would be relevant.
Dredge is a fishing game. Like most such games, your main sequence of actions is to go out onto the water, reel in some fish, return to port to sell them, make improvements to your boat so you can fish better. Repeat as needed.
Except that some of those fish are strange and deformed. And you’re told to be careful not to go out at night. Or, if you do, try to stay near a light. For monster and madness lurk in the waters the further you get from port.
As you continue that fishing cycle, you learn that you have a series of fishing tasks that might make things right. Or might bring the awful, uncaring darkness into the world…
In other words, Dredge is a Lovecraftian Horror fishing game.
The gameplay reminds me of a less-intense version of Sunless Skies. You navigate through an environment, performing missions, always aware that either loss of sanity or the destruction of your ship can bring doom. If your ship is destroyed, you can restore the game to the point at which you last made port.
Like Sunless Skies, you have to be careful with your vessel because you’ll damage it if you crash into things. But the ship in Dredge is much easier to control.
Fishing itself requires some timing and dexterity, but it was well within the limits of my fumbling fingers. In general, if you don’t time your keypresses properly, you’ll still land the fish; it will just take longer. And you may not have much time before something with glowing eyes directs its gaze to your fragile vessel…
Overall, I found the tasks and puzzles in Dredge to be engaging and not overly challenging. There’s usually no rush to do anything within a certain time, and I had no problems with the few time-limited tasks. You can spend as much time as you like doing the ol’ cycle of fish-and-sell, increasing the capacity of your boat, your speed (handy to out-run the tentacled horrors), and the types of fish you can gather. The puzzles, even the more mundane ones like how to escape a particular monster, are easy to solve if you read the text when characters speak with you, or you consult your fishing journal.
You can’t really “lose” the game; if your ship is destroyed, you return to your last dock. When you reach the end of the game, you can essentially choose from between different endings, and experience the alternatives easily.
This is a gentle 10-12 hour game. I recommend it.
Next on my list of game reviews is one that I won’t recommend. I’ll discuss my reasons why at some length: Lord of the Rings: Gollum.