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    dkirschner's Dredge (PS4)

    [June 24, 2024 07:28:58 AM]
    Dredge immediately reminded me of Sunless Sea, but it's simpler and friendlier. You are a fisherman who finds himself in a Lovecraftian sea, taking up the job of an angler at a local village. Not all is what it seems: at night, the fog rolls in an strange, terrifying creatures roam the water. Soon, an enigmatic figure calling himself The Collector sets you on your main quest, to find five sunken artifacts. There are, conveniently, five island areas on the map, so off you go from one to the other, fishing, upgrading your boat, and finding sunken things.

    What I liked the most about Dredge was how it sucked me in to its simple gameplay loop. You go out, fish, return to town, sell fish. Use money to upgrade your ship, go out farther, fish, return to town, sell fish. Repeat. To fish successfully, you need specific rods for specific types of biomes (shallow, volcanic, abyssal, etc.), and faster engines to go farther. So, you can't explore unless you upgrade things. There are also messages in bottles, which you need to find to understand the story, special mutated fish (worth more money!), ship parts, treasure, and other things to find. You've always got a couple things you're looking for, always discovering new fish (I discovered about 50% of the total number, so there is WAY more out there!), or dredging up something useful.

    There is also the underlying dread that keeps you moving. You generally only want to be out during the day; at night, things get dangerous. The dread made me cautious, but caution worked, in that I may not have experienced some of the more unnerving things in the game. That is, apparently if you don't sleep at night, you'll start seeing things and more weird phenomena will happen. But I almost always slept, and definitely never went two nights with no sleep, no nothing got too nightmarish. I wonder how nightmarish it gets?

    The game itself is easy, with just the right amount of aforementioned dread, which helped lull me into its gameplay loop. You'll run into some rocks, see and hear other ghostly ships at night, and at the last island be harassed by swarming fish, but you probably won't die. I died one time from taking too much hull damage, and it just reloaded my last autosave from a couple minutes earlier.

    The story is compelling and, along with the constant upgrading, kept me interested in moving forward from quest to quest, island to island. Each island has one main character on it, whose issue you have to resolve, whether it's finding their dead crewmates or reconciling a conflict between two brothers, before you can get to the main quest's artifact. I actually explored every single island on the map, sailed around looking for new characters, docks, shipwrecks, and other points of interest. There are some secrets scattered around, some shrines wherein you must place specific types of fish (I solved one and got an awesome crab trap), and some mysterious black rocks that never did anything for me and I have no idea what they were for.

    Finally, I would also add that this is (weirdly?) an inventory management game. Since you're out fishing and collecting things, you will run out of storage space. All the objects are like Tetris pieces: you can rotate them and pack your hull just so. This was more satisfying than I thought, as in a typical game where I have to manage inventory space--say an open-world RPG--, I get frustrated. Making the inventory basically like a Tetris mini-game was a good call! It also helps that you're never far from somewhere to sell things. Your trips out to sea are always quick, so if you fill up, no problem. There's no penalty for going back and unloading, and it just takes a minute (plus, you'll get to sleep, and I was usually able to time my trips during the day).

    Definitely enjoyed this one! There is plenty more to do if you want to collect all the fish, fully upgrade your ship, complete all the side quests. It's engrossing and tells a good story.
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    dkirschner's Dredge (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 20 June, 2024

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 23 June, 2024

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Eldritch seafaring horror. Reminds me of Sunless Sea. -------- Simple, engrossing gameplay loop. Love the mystery and vibe.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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