DREDGE - Switch Review

"Ultimately fun experience that can draw you in for hours."

DREDGE - Switch Review
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There are a surprisingly large number of fishing games out there. DREDGE, from developers Black Salt Games, is the only one that I've played to have a sanity metre. In fact, it might be unfair to lump DREDGE in as a 'fishing game' - that certainly is the main activity you'll be doing, but the overall experience of this Lovecraftian game is so much more.

In DREDGE, you play as a nameless fisherman washed ashore in a small town on a small island in a vast ocean. The elderly mayor loans you a boat to ply your trade and you’re off to catch fish in the bright blue sea, dotted by islands and small settlements.  And yet it quickly becomes very clear that something is off in this world. The characters you meet speak fearfully of a previous cataclysm. You’ll find cryptic messages in bottles from a long-gone predecessor. And sometimes the fish you catch come up… wrong. They’ll have a few too many teeth, or an extra head, or just be entirely inside-out - and the locals seem particularly excited by them. And at night, things only get worse…

The Good

DREDGE has rightfully won plaudits for the remarkable way it manages to capture two polar opposite vibes equally well in its 10-15 hours of playtime, both of which rely on the game’s strengths:

On the one hand, DREDGE really is a cosy, simple fishing game. It’s low-poly art looks gorgeous and sailing in a little tug boat from fishing spot to fishing spot with the sun rising over the horizon looks and feels great. The controls are simple and intuitive - you’ll be happily completing fishing trips within minutes of starting the game and settling into the core gameplay of catching fish, returning to the docks, selling your catch to the fishmonger, and then using the money and salvage you’ve dredged up, to upgrade your boat. You can make your boat faster, sturdier, and bigger, all of which let you catch more fish the next day, sell to make more money, and so on and so on. That loop is strangely addictive - there is always something to sail to, another shoal of fish on the edge of the screen, a ship part to upgrade. It’s hard to put down without one more quick trip out to sea. The in-game day lasts around five minutes (roughly - time only moves when you do), which makes this a perfect switch handheld experience.

Despite all that, DREDGE captures an unsettling, eldritch feeling like very little else I’ve played. Once the in-game clock ticks past 6pm, the sea becomes a very different place. That same art style is put to great use in creating a foggy, dark, nighttime sea, your meagre light barely reaching the water in front of you. The sound design and faint visions at the screen’s edge all combine for a legitimately tense and scary gameplay experience, as you are attacked by dark tentacles and crash into rocks that weren’t there earlier. It can be a struggle to make it through to morning, and you will quickly learn to keep one eye glued to the in-game clock to avoid being caught out in the open, in need of the safety of the far-off lighthouse.

This is all backed up by effective writing that keeps things moving along while maintaining that unsettling undertone. The attention to detail in the character design, dialogue and notes you find is ultimately what drives you to carry on exploring and complete DREDGE’s story.


  • Writing, art design and music simultaneously capture both cosy and spine-chilling vibes
  • Simple, intuitive controls
  • Addictive, ‘just one more’ gameplay

The Bad

For all the eldritch horrors trying to invade my boat, my biggest nemesis for the first quarter of DREDGE was ultimately inventory management. Your ship can only hold so much cargo, so you’ll often be forced to return to port sooner than you’d like. This problem does go away as you upgrade your ship more and more, but making your way through the first few upgrades can be a bit of a grind.

This inventory/equipment management does add an additional layer to depth to the game and is, on the whole, a plus, but having to return to a dock because you have the wrong rod installed for the fish you want to catch can be more frustrating than fun, at least until your ship is fully upgraded. The upgrades themselves are unlocked in a pretty linear fashion - some minor choices to the order they’re unlocked ultimately doesn’t give you much room for customising how you play or what equipment you use.

Finally, while I personally enjoyed the fishing mini game, it is essentially a variation of a simple QTE, and your mileage may vary depending on how fun you find repeating it over the course of many hours (considerably more if you want to go after 100% completion). This goes doubly so for the dredging mini game, which is less satisfying.


  • Can take too long to grind to power up sufficiently
  • Simplistic fishing mechanic may not be for everyone
  • Limited customisation of play style

Final Score: 8/10

The strange combination of cosy fishing game and untold horrors make DREDGE an atmospheric and ultimately fun experience that can draw you in for hours. Some minor pacing issues and overly-linear progression don’t stop this from being a worthy addition to your switch collection. Just make sure to keep an eye on the depths…

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