Review: Dredge – A Haunting Lovecraftian Fishing Sim That Reels You In

There’s no plaice like home.

New Zealand indie studio Black Salt’s Dredge surfaced in a highly mysterious trailer in 2022. All we saw was a small boat chugging around torrid seas, terrorised by Lovecraftian looming skies and giant, tentacled monsters. A later trailer showed a fisherman catching ever larger fish, selling them for ever larger amounts of money, and upgrading his boat as he went. Those ideas together sum up Dredge: a fish-sell-upgrade loop in a foreboding horror-mystery setting. It’s the latest thing to be washed up on the shores of iconic indie publisher Team17 – but is it just tragic flotsam, or is it some kind of cool mutant merman thing?

We’re happy to report that it’s very much the latter. Although the core loop is not the most original, the set dressing of cosmic fear, ferocious monsters and terrifyingly plumbable depths make all the difference. The story begins with a fisherman running afoul of jagged rocks. Despite being at the foot of a lighthouse, the rocks seem to appear from nowhere. The mayor of the nearby town loans the fisherman a boat and introduces him to the local fish market and shipyard. And here you take the helm. Controlling your little vessel with left-stick tank controls, you seek out bubbling spots on the water’s surface. A brief action sub-mini-game moment catches fish, and then you can pootle on back to the dock to sell your haul of tiddlers. Upgrading at the shipyard gets new rods for catching more varied fishies from further afield and all in all it’s a jolly old time in the salty sun on the ocean wave. Until nighttime.

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