Dredge is a gorgeous Lovecraftian fishing RPG that deserves your attention

It’s almost a little too easy to become comfortable with Dredge. I’ve been sailing all night long in my wee fishing boat, Tetrissing all manner of fish inside my inventory Resident Evil-style. I’m so engrossed I’ve failed to notice the rocks that are desperate for me to crash and the mysterious critters that are slithering their way into my meticulously organized vessel.

Dredge isn’t the usual fish-and-chill game I’ve become so accustomed to playing. It’s a mysterious, sinister survival game dressed up in wellies. The premise is simple enough: after totaling your old boat and ending up on a strange island, the mayor generously gifts you a rickety hand-me-down craft and a small debt. That debt, of course, is repaid in sea creatures. There’s not much I’m able to grab at first—maybe a flounder, mostly carp, easy enough to slot into my inventory and go about my day. But after paying off my initial debt and performing some nice upgrades, my fishing horizons broaden massively.

Larger fish start appearing, along with more complex shapes to slot into the cargo hold. While eels are simple three-tile straight lines, fish like the bronze whaler are annoying bastards with one-tile prongs sticking out at diagonally opposite ends of its long body. Couple that with the fact that fishing rods, engines, reels and other trawling tools also take up space and it becomes a game of strategy. Instead of diving in head-first, I was having to take the time to think about which tools were right for the job. I’m not usually great at planning ahead, but quests handed out by NPCs generally help steer me in the right direction of what to bring out with me.

(Image credit: Black Salt Games)

As I set out to sail, the mayor warns me to come back as the sun sets and the fog thickens. Pfft, I’m a fishing pro. I have a lantern, a rod and my wits about me. A little bit of darkness isn’t going to scare me. except it absolutely is. The Black Salt Games team lets me know that while I’ve been happily fishing away without a care in the world, my poor little fisherman has been in a deep-set panic for a hot minute. Those rocks I’ve been dodging, seemingly appearing out of nowhere? I’ve been hallucinating them, my anxiety willing them into existence.

A sinister plaice

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