Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this installment, we’re covering DREDGE by developer Black Salt Games.
DREDGE: (The Explanation)
Every once in awhile an indie game comes along that enters my collective consciousness as I am told by several friends that I should give it a go. Enter DREDGE. When I received my code to review the game was more than over the moon delighted. I had heard great things from coworkers and friends, as well as, read and listened to a few people gush over the gameplay loop and overall appeal of the game.
After my hour plus of EXPlay footage, and then missing dinner because I was engrossed, I can safely say that DREDGE lives up to the expectations I had. To start things off you wreck upon a small set of islands that are dotted with towns, fishing villages, respite oases, and other sea-faring nomenclature. You’re greeted by a shady looking mayor that, in my early game seems to be well-natured, but time will probably reveal some sinister motives under his well-groomed veneer.
After wrecking and washing up on shore, the mayor, along with other townspeople, gives you a boat and several missions to help earn your new fishing vessel while aiding in cleaning up the surrounding area. Little is known, and shown to you in the early hours of the game, but I already have progressed to unlocking some upgrades to my ship, equipment, and discovered several types of sea creatures.
DREDGE mixes in Lovecraftian horror throughout its narrative. Early on in the game you are warned about sailing at night, though certain fish are only found swimming in the evening. After a few nights at sea you are bound to fish out terrifyingly grotesque mutant creatures.
The main gameplay aspect of DREDGEconsists of sailing around and fishing at various spots across the ocean. From time to time you will also come across areas to dredge the sea floor searching for lost items and salvage wreckage. After fishing or salvaging items you need to place your items in a grid with reminds me a bit like the Tetris-style placement of items in the Resident Evil series.
Along with fishing and salvaging, you need to build up your ship, your skills, and more by applying some of those found items to various crafting at the docks. You gain money by selling off the fish you bring in and items you find that are not quest related. As you find items to craft with you need to decide how you want to apply them and what upgrades you want to pursue.
In your journey around the open seas you will encounter a curious number of npcs that will give you quests for items to find, fish to discover, salvage to bring back and more. I didn’t find any boss-like battles, but I was told there were monsters living around one of the islands I was working on during my third hour of gaming.
Overall DREDGE is an indie gem of a game and right now, one I know I will be back to play. Even as I write this EXPlay review I am itching to play more and jump back into its world again. There hasn’t been an indie game since Mini Motorways or Tinykin that had burrowed itself into my memory like DREDGE. If you are looking for a unique bit of gameplay, character building, and world lore, this game is going to delight you. I wholeheartedly recommend picking it up and giving it a go.
DREDGE: (The Gameplay)
Developer: Black Salt Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Simulation
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: March 30, 2023 (EU & NA)
Price: $24.99 (Digital)
File Size: 1.1 GB