Dredge - quirky fishing with a story

I do like quirky games.  Sometimes goofing around on my phone isn't enough, and with Stadia dead I'm looking for something to do.

Steam is pretty big with the kids, my kid loves it so I look through the collection, and there's a ton of stuff on there - and I was given a code to try out a new game called Dredge.

It'll be coming out on the 30th and will cost about $30.

The idea of the game is that you're a fisherman ... and I"m not a fisherman - even when I go canoeing, I'll fish, but never really catch anything, so a 'game' about it didn't excite me.  But it's not one of those Bass Master fishing games.  It's a bit of an RPG, so that helps.

The story goes that you're a fisherman with a boat and you go out one night and get blown off course and your boat wrecks on this little island area that's creepy at night.  The mayor gives you a new boat to use and help keep their town fed.

It starts of simply.  You have a simple rod and engine for your boat and you go looking for fish.

You need the right kind of rod for the right kind of terrain to catch the fish.  Catching means you do a little simple 'timing' game to pull up the fish.

You catch the type of fish with the type of rod you have.  Don't have the right kind of equipment and you can't catch it.

In the beginning it's simple.

Catch the fish, and then you place it into your ship's cargo.  It then becomes a bit of a tetris game.  Different fish have different 'block sizes' to arrange and fit into your hold.

In the beginning you don't have much space.

Bring back the fish you catch to the town to sell it.

In the town we have the fishmonger who'll buy our fish and sell us crabpots.

And there's the Shipwright - who'll repair any damage you get (if you bump into things, and crabpots and nets need repairing after use).

More importantly, to upgrade the ship you have the drydock to get more space, more room for more rods or types of motors.

These take special loot to do the upgrades, and you can see them in places around the islands and catch them like you would the fish, just a different kind of 'timing game'.

There are even these 'cogs' you can get now and again for the research so you research new kinds of rods and lights etc... to buy to outfit your boat with.

All's going well, like a standard RPG, doing the grind.  Go out, get fish, get loot, go back and sell to get better upgrades.

But just as you get used to the feel of this game, you start to notice where the game has this edge.

There's something odd about this place.  

First, you don't want to be out late.  The eyeball starts getting 'nervous' and then you start getting 'jittery' and then your vision narrows and certain landmarks are not seen or hidden.  

It feels like something is 'following' you and it feels like monsters are coming after you.  So, get back to that town and take a nap until morning.

The other thing, is sometime you catch a real weird looking fish... something twisted.

And you can see it's a weird version of the normal type, you can see sometimes in the water if there's some like weird miasma or gas coming off of the water area to know that some fish might be the twisted kind.

Those kinds of fish are definitely worth more to the fishmonger.  But hard to get them during the day time, so if you want to chance it at night with the spooky stuff out there.

Eventually, you get enough gear and upgrades to let you go a little further out into the world...

...or series of other islands.

You quickly go from the Marrows to the Blackstone Isle to find a man who likes a certain relic you found and sets you on a path to find more for him.

These relics are scattered around the map, each having more puzzles to solve, finding clues on how to beat a monster or activate something so that you can fetch loot.

The more relics you bring to the dude, the more neat abilities you learn to help you with you navigating around.

I like the speed boost, but there's a nice one that'll send out that a protective sphere (you can see the red light above your boat in one of the above photos) - great when you're out at night and the spookies are out - but it's short lived.

Each have their own kind of difficulties and types of terrains, so you'll need the right equipment.

I've gone through a fair bit (16.5hrs so far) and it's pretty neat.

I will say that I didn't like in some areas that it's pretty hard to really figure out what you have to do.  Like this third statue I have to light, in order to get the special flame to do it, it wants you to put some fish there, but not really any clue on how.  *grumble*

It's a really neat game tho'.  I like the style of the RPG, you need the right equipment, you need to grind to get the money to get better equipment.  Then the quirk of these spooky areas.

Why does it get so dark and twisted at night?  Why is the mayor so secretive about it?

There's a simple narrative to the story and there's a great amount of time to not make the grind feel too long, but not crazy short that it gets boring.

I would have liked a little more 'nudging' in some directions - stuck on this statue puzzle.

You spend a fair amount of time doing the playing around with what is the best optimized configuration of the shape of your rods and engines etc... so that you can catch what you need to catch in the environment you are in (you'll have to make some sacrifices of types of rods in the early times).

So, a very interesting game with its own interesting puzzles to solve out - catching the fish you need to, balancing risk of fishing at night to get better 'loot' but at increased cost of damage that'll need to be repaired.

Plus there are a bunch of 'missions' you end up getting that you may have to go back and forth to different areas - so it isn't just go to one island and do all you need to do there and never look back.

Let alone, you can play the 'completionist' and try to get every fish from the encyclopedia.

Definitely a game worth the cost!