On Deck // Dredge First Impressions

Who would’ve thought my favorite game so far this year was a fishing game mixed with some Lovecraft horrors?

I knew absolutely nothing about Dredge before I randomly saw it on someone’s Twitter post praising it with a preview before it launched. I watched one trailer on Steam and was sold on it right away. Dredge is a fishing game, where you’re a fisherman who crashed near an island. You’re rescued by the locals, given a replacement boat, and become the island’s newest fisherman. Simple enough, but almost immediately you realize there’s some weird shit going on in the region. The previous fisherman seemed to have mysteriously disappeared, the mayor of a nearby island went mad and also disappeared, and on top of all that you keep fishing up some mutated fish. No matter, just keep fishing, pay off your debt, and explore!

At first, I just stayed in the first little area between the first two islands. I caught a lot of fish, sold them all to the Fishmonger, and made sure I rushed back to the dock before it got dark. When it gets dark, it’s almost impossible to see. A fog rolls in, which seems to be another mystery in itself, so it’s wise to not stay out too late when you’re first starting out.

Eventually, you can start upgrading your ship. I went with getting a new engine pretty early on. The boat is great, but a fast boat is so much better. Other upgrades include different fishing rods to catch fish in other areas of the ocean. There are also things like better, brighter lights, nets that you can drag along to catch fish passively, and even crab pots you can drop and come back later. There are a lot of upgrades to choose from, and lots of ways to play and catch some fish.

Exploration is a big part of Dredge as well. The map isn’t massive, but there are a ton of small islands everywhere. Exploring shipwrecks, dredging up materials for upgrades, and talking to others to discover new mysteries and quests. The fishing mini-game is pretty easy, but it’s the dredging mini-game that can be a challenge sometimes. What’s nice is it doesn’t seem like you can lose out on anything. As far as I am aware, your line doesn’t break while fishing so you don’t lose out on materials, fish, or treasure. You can, however, take damage with your boat. How do you take damage you might ask? Well, there are rocks in the bays, water cyclones, and of course giant monsters that pretend to be a shipwreck and will swipe at you if you get too close. You know, the normal fishing dangers.

I love the quests in Dredge. Having some direction in this type of game is great. I like being able to pick and choose what I’m going to do for the day. I can float around catching a bunch of fish to gain money or focus entirely on dredging for the day strictly for future upgrades. I still try to go back to the dock before dark still, even though I have some pretty decent lights right now. Even then, there’s some type of insane meter that starts to fill up when it’s dark out. I’m not sure exactly what happens, but I’ll experiment with it in the future. Maybe sleep all day, and go out at night. There are some quests that can only be completed at night right now as well, so it might be time to risk it for the biscuit!

I’ve been playing Dredge entirely on the Steam Deck, and it’s been an incredible experience. It is verified for the deck, so I didn’t mess with any of the settings. Really don’t think you would need to, either. The controls are great, it looks great, and is super comfortable to play for decent sessions. My first session was around 3 hours. It’s been a second since I have fallen for a game this quickly, but Dredge is already easily my favorite game to come out in 2023. Definitely plan on writing up my final thoughts on this incredible game soon!

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