Dredge Review: The Dreaded Depths

A gentle breeze. The sound of water lapping up against metal. The faint taste of salt on your lips. Life on the open water is peaceful, all you have to do is set out some crab pots, reel in a few fish, and sell your haul back at the dock. Ah yes, it’s a calm and simple life.

Until night falls.

Then, the unthinkable evil that lurks in the depths by day, strays closer to the surface where it can harass you and slowly chip away at your resolve until you finally go mad. If you hope to survive the waters surrounding Greater Marrow, then you might have to harness some of that madness for yourself…

This is Dredge, a game that is described as a “single-player fishing adventure with a sinister undercurrent”. From my time with the game, I would instead describe it as a psychological horror game with fishing mechanics. Developed by the appropriately named Black Salt Games and published by the indie game powerhouse Team17, Dredge is… well Dredge is f***ing awesome.

I’ll attempt to be as objective as I can in this review, but Dredge nails its mechanics so hard and combines my love of horror with a newfound love of fishing games. 

The game begins when the nameless fisherman protagonist wrecks his ship on unseen rocks as a result of ominous fog rolling in. When he wakes, he’s greeted by the mayor of Great Marrow, a small fishing village nestled in the safety of tall rocks and trees. The mayor is kind enough to lend the fisherman a boat and allows him to pay it off by taking a percentage of his fish sales to go towards the loan and also to improve the town. So kind!

From there, the game opens up and sets you loose on a surprisingly large map dotted with other villages filled with interesting characters and opportunities, which only occasionally take the form of an annoying side quest. 

You’ll spend most of the game’s thirty or so hours exploring the waters and fishing, so thankfully these mechanics are very enjoyable. There are different fishing mini-games depending on the type of machinery used, which is determined by the depth of the fish, which in turn determines the type of fish you’ll catch. You’ll also use your fishing hardware to dredge up (there goes the title!) crafting materials used for upgrades.

You’ll be fishing and picking up materials constantly, and all of that stuff has to go somewhere, right? Of course! So instead of some nebulous storage weight limit, Dredge gives you a Resident Evil 4 inventory mechanic to store all of your goods until you can offload them. If twisting and flipping things to make them fit in a limited amount of space gets you going, you’ll be well-served by Dredge. My only gripe here is that equipment like lights, fishing gear, and even engines all take up the same space, but that just makes the tactical inventory organizing that much more challenging.

The daytime gameplay is so well implemented with systems that interlock fantastically, that as long as you return to a safe area by nightfall you could ostensibly play the game indefinitely as a kind of cozy game replacement. 

But that’s not where the meat and potatoes (or the fish and rice?) of Dredge are. For that, you’ll have to stay out past curfew and face Lovecraftian horrors. At the beginning of the game, all you’ll have to save you from madness is a candle, but that can quickly be upgraded to increasingly larger and far more helpful light sources. These lights cut through the fog to reveal a safe path, but sometimes safety just isn’t guaranteed. Monstrous angler fish, glowing-eyed sharks, and even the occasional sentient water spout will hunt you down and damage your ship. As you progress though, you’ll gain access to powers that can offset this danger at a cost, like a speed boost called Haste. Using this ability can get you out of danger, but can cause your engines to overheat and become useless if you aren’t careful.

Dredge is full of awesome risk/reward mechanics like this, and they all make the moment-to-moment gameplay downright addicting. My first session went far beyond the two hours I had dedicated to it without even realizing it, and that pattern continued every time I sat down to play it. I was just so engrossed in the game. 

You could spend hours just fishing and not advancing the story. But if you play with the intent of completing the game, there is a very satisfying upgrade curve. Within a few hours, your dinky dinghy feels considerably faster and more fully featured, and that’s just the beginning. By the end, your boat is basically super-powered. But then again, it has to be in order to face the unimaginable…

I loved Dredge. The gameplay is addicting, the characters and story are very well-written, and there are new mechanics introduced right up to the end that keep things interesting. Aside from the few minor quibbles I have with it, I think Black Salt Games did an incredible job with their debut title, and I can’t wait to see what they make next. Until then, I’m gone fishin’.




  • Addicting fishing gameplay
  • Excellent upgrade curve
  • Fantastic writing


  • Required equipment takes up cargo space
  • Occasionally annoying (and entirely optional) side quests.

Mike Alexander

Mike is a freelance writer who has been playing video games since he was able to hold a controller, having been fascinated by Sonic 2 on his mom’s Sega Genesis. That fascination and passion for the art form has grown exponentially nearly 30 years later, and he doesn’t see that fading away anytime soon. Some of his favorite game series of all time are Monster Hunter, Splinter Cell, and Prince of Persia. He still has a place in his heart for Sonic, but he doesn’t like to talk about it.

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