Published on April 14th, 2023 | by S. Masoud Kazemi
Summary: Dredge is the first indie game of 2023 that will surprise you.
Dredge is an indie fishing game developed by Black Salt Games. It tells the story of a nameless fisherman that travels around, selling fish and helping settlements until he meets a mysterious man that changes the course of his life.
Dredge is one of the most deceiving games I’ve played in recent years. As I started playing the game and going fishing for a couple of days, I believed this game would be a more relaxing game, than challenging, in both story and gameplay. At least I was right about the latter.
Dredge’s story starts as if you are reading The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway but only to catch you off guard and tell a scary and weird story that can only be found in Lovecraft’s works. It is a mixture that shouldn’t work on paper, but Joel Mason, author of the game found a way to use both styles of storytelling in a single tale.
The ending of Dredge is something that will stick in your mind for longer than you have intended. It’s shocking yet something that you should have foreseen. And the idea of using a minimalistic style for storytelling was the best-suited option available.
Since we are dealing with a lonely fisherman, it would only make sense if he didn’t talk too much. For this same reason, the first half of Dredge puts players in a situation where they have to fill the silence between journeys. Usually, this is considered a weakness, but in Dredge, it helps players to create a unique experience while playing the game.
By not providing challenging gameplay and a cozy atmosphere at first, it creates a room where your thoughts can easily go stray. This simple thing will make the experience of Dredge unique to every individual. Once you’ve beaten the game and some time has passed, you would remember Dredge and along with it the unique thoughts that came into your mind.
But it’s not like you will be setting idle the whole time. The gameplay of Dredge is simple but fun and addictive. At the start, you can only use a normal rod to fish, and as you progress through the game and gain more money, you can buy more powerful and faster rods that can catch different types of fish. The simple cycle of catching fish, selling, and upgrading is simply amazing.
You will also need other materials like wood and steel to upgrade your ship which is harder to find. Getting both items or fish in the game enables a little mini-game where you have to hit the button at the right time. It may not seem like a big deal, but once you start playing the game, you realize how much it has helped the gameplay of Dredge to not be way too simplistic and dry.
The magic of Dredge is in how it is balanced in everything. Everything in the game, from the artistic style to the music, from the gameplay to narrative decisions is balanced. If need the rises they will show themselves, otherwise, they stay out of your way to having your unique experience.
The only issue with Dredge is in the quest design, especially the side quests of the game. While the main quests do suffer from being repetitive, at least there is some difference. In the case of side quests, unfortunately, they are most of the time the same and only some of them are interesting due to the characters involved in the quests.
But the good thing about Dredge is that there are so many good things about this game that you wouldn’t even notice the flaw in quest designs. And not only the gameplay or story of the game but the music and art style of it as well.
The rule of minimalism is respected in the style and music of the game as well. You don’t hear many scores in the game, but when you hear them, the influence of it is inevitable. It sets the mood of the game, whether you should relax and enjoy fishing, or be on your toes for the danger that lies ahead. It is once again simple, but amazingly beneficial.
Dredge is the first indie game of 2023 that will surprise you. The overall simplicity of this game will at first deceive you and afterward, you will appreciate this decision and how everything is synchronized with each other. Maybe the quest designs were too simplistic, but the other aspects of the game, especially the music is so good, that you would eventually forget about it.