Dredge Review: Not Your Typical Fishing Game

A mix of Lovecraftian horror, fishing, and an intriguing story make Dredge a refreshing indie title.

Dredge is an indie horror fishing game developed by Black Salt Games and published by Team17. What starts as a fun and relaxing fishing game quickly evolves into something much more disturbing once the sun sets and the story unravels.

Casting the Line

Speaking to the locals in The Marrows, a remote archipelago in Dredge, I began uncovering some unsettling facts about the area. I soon discovered not everything was right with these waters as I reeled in a seriously grotesque-looking fish — a Grotesque Mackeral, to be exact — which the local fishmonger found interesting. This aberration, as the game calls it, is one of three mutated versions of the basic Blue Mackerel. These fiendish aberrations account for maybe half of the 128 unique fish swimming around the waters in Dredge.

The first tasks in the game were simple and guided me through the basics of operating my boat, catching fish, installing some new equipment, and selling fish to the local town. The fish you catch are all different sizes and shapes, and with the limited amount of cargo space in the boat, some decisions need to be made about which types of fish to catch and how to organize them to maximize profits. This adds an element of resource management to the well-done fishing mechanics and intuitive and comfortable boat controls.

Dredge masterfully weaves exploration, resource management, and horror elements into a fresh and immersive deep-sea adventure that stands out as a must-play indie title.

Catch of the Day

As I used my spyglass to scope out the next fishing spot, I noticed the time was passing quickly, and it was dark before I knew it. Strange things were undoubtedly lurking out there in the waters, so it was back to the dock to sell the day’s catch. The locals said I wasn’t looking too great and encouraged me to get a good night’s rest, so I did just that.  

The next day, I ventured out a little further, discovering the next town, speaking with some locals, and picking up quests. These quests are tracked through the Pursuit log inside the boat’s cabin. Pursuits led me to some new areas, where I discovered a spot where I could dredge through the waters and find research parts and upgrade materials. These tie into the game’s other progression systems: the research and upgrade trees.  

Upgrades add more slots in the cargo for more rods, lights, engines, and nets for better equipment for the boat. A new hull meant more cargo space, so I could hold more fish and other items before heading back to town to sell the valuables and stash the materials. It also meant a more durable ship, so I could sustain impact, which I didn’t think was all too important until I started venturing out at night. It seemed easy enough to avoid the obvious jagged rocks jutting out of the water, but this becomes a bit more challenging when you can only see two feet in front of you, and weird Lovecraftian sea monsters are chasing you.

The research tree consists of four tabs: rods, engines, pots, and nets, and it’s up to the player to allocate the research parts. As travel between the islands was time-consuming at first, upgrading the engines seemed like a safe bet, followed by the rods so I could fish more efficiently and do so in various locations. Dredge does leave a lot of decisions up to the player, which is nice. The research tree can influence your playstyle, and the quests can be completed in a non-linear fashion. You can also choose to only fish during the day and treat it like a fishing simulator.

The game gets creepy when either the sun goes down or you’re not getting enough sleep. And as you begin exploring new islands, you’ll encounter various obstacles, like volcanic piranha that slow down your boat, a mirage of your own ship that turns into a hostile angler fish that will destroy your hull, and a massive underwater creature that resembles Cthulhu. Dredge does a great job intertwining these elements into the game at a pace that leaves you slightly unsettled and curious to explore what else is out there. And these disturbing and sometimes horrific elements and the artwork are what make Dredge a great game.

It’s Not All Smooth Sailing

When you first encounter these mysterious sea creatures, there’s a chance your ship will get completely wrecked. When that happens, you’ll load back up at your last save point, typically when you were last in town. Thankfully, there is a quest that rewards you with an “oh, shit” item that allows you to transport back to the starting area in case you need to escape with your valuables. It’s a nice quality-of-life feature that saves some frustration.

The pace of the game is generally good, but things get a bit slower later on in the game, and I found my boat fully upgraded without much else to do other than search for quest items so I can progress through the story. The game’s progression systems are a little imbalanced for that reason, but that doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience.

Fishing also begins to feel underwhelming after unlocking all the different rods. The little puzzle games associated with catching the fish get repetitive, and overall, I think there could have been a wider variety of fish in the game, but maybe that’s asking too much. Aside from those small criticisms, Dredge is overall a memorable and enjoyable fishing adventure that takes you for a ride of emotions.

A Unique Experience

Dredge is a mix of genres I’ve never personally experienced before, and I can appreciate the creativity. The unique blend of exploration, resource management, and horror will probably hook you right from the start and make for an unforgettable experience. It’s a must-play indie title for gamers that enjoy delving into the unknown.

Dredge Review

Vinny Winnfield



Dredge masterfully weaves exploration, resource management, and horror elements into a fresh and immersive deep-sea adventure that stands out as a must-play indie title.


Dredge is available on Steam.

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