Back when Dave the Diver announced a free DLC crossover with Dredge, I knew I’d start Dredge as my next game on Steam Deck. Both games are perfect “comfy” games for me to play entirely on Steam Deck. I wanted a bit background about the game, before diving into an crossover DLC. There’s plenty of catching fish in both games, but Dredge has a lot more fishing specific upgrades.
Crashing into a New Fishing Adventure
After the main character crashes their boat and wakes up in Greater Marrow, we learn about need to pay off the debt to the Mayor for the new boat “gifted” to him. From there, there’s actually a lot more fishing to pay off that debt than actually dredging.
Main story items and treasure require a good dredge to fetch, but this is mostly a fishing game. Thankfully, I loved the fishing gameplay. It’s not a sim, but more a set of minigames to press a button at the correct time. As simple as actual fishing is, the variations and upgrades are deep.
I spent many more hours than the main story or even side missions require, mostly chasing materials for the upgrades. There were simple upgrade kits I could buy or find to research new fishing equipment, lights and engines.
The game time only progresses while fishing, dredging or moving, but that time moves fast. It took quite a bit to move to a fishing spot and actually fish. I focused on upgrading engines to get farther, faster. When I realized the night time brings out the monsters at sea, it became even more important to get home quick before the sun went down.
Dredge Night Terrors
There’s quite a variety of scary creatures and “presences” to find out at sea when the sun is down. Some monsters are around during the day, but the night is truly dangerous. I still remember another ship crossing my path, honking it’s horn.
I returned a horn blow before it morphed into a hybrid boat monster to chase me down. Going fast and avoiding the night became a big priority for me after that. It was also clear the game would find ways to force me out at night and it did just that with mission requirements.
Fishing and Dredging for Upgrades
Running away from the monsters also highlighted the damage system when I bumped into an outcrop and lost cargo. Anything that bumped my boat damaged cargo spaces, lost me precious cargo and eventually sunk my boat. There was also a chance it could disable important systems like the engines, lights or fishing equipment.
I could return to town to repair my ship, but that money was very important for me in the beginning. That encouraged me to work on the Dry Dock upgrades. While research points helped me unlock new equipment in stores, the Dry Dock helped expand my boat.
This game loop of chasing materials to upgrade my boat was very satisfying. When I needed more space, I’d chase the cargo/hull upgrades. When more speed was a must, I’d buy faster engine parts and expand the engine area of my hull to fit them.
There were also options to expand spaces available for fishing rods, lights and nets. Bigger and more efficient equipment usually took additional squares. By the endgame, I unlocked every thing and filled up all my equipment slots with the best.
Using the Right Equipment
When it came to specific fishing equipment, there were various fishing rods, crab pots and trawl nets. Each had several upgrades available for faster fishing speed, increased durability and area type. With so many depths and types of fishing spots, I focused my fishing rod upgrades on the ones with multiple uses.
By the end, I had two rods that could handle the Mangroves, Shallows, Coastal, Oceanic, Volcanic, Abysmal, Hadal and Ice (DLC). I even had an area to secure my trawl net, which I regret upgrading until the end. Trawl nets passively picks up fish I normally need a rod to catch and some fish that I can only get using the net.
Dredge Story Telling
There were various characters I met along my fishing journey’s, but they were flat. Conversations boiled down to Dishonored style 2D oil painting of the characters speaking to me. The main mission, or Pursuits, as the game like to call them, was finding 5 items for a special collector.
Everyone that I collected granted me a special power from the collector’s crimson book. Between Haste, Banish, Atrophy and Manifest, Haste was my favorite. It serves as an almost turbo boost at the cost of possibly overheating engines.
Speed is very important Dredge, so I used Haste a lot and yes, blew out my engines a few times. Banish was helpful to serve as a temporary shield from all the monsters, so I used that often, as well. Atrophy I probably used the least as it just instantly scoops all the fish in 1 spot.
Manifest was great at the end, so I could quickly teleport to the Blackstone Isle that the collector lived on.
Blackstone Key and the Pale Reach DLCs
After a few hours in, Dredge hooked me to the point I decided to purchase both DLCs. Blackstone Key was just a simple DLC to get access to the workshop on Blackstone isle. The Arterial Engine and Sign of Ruin were basically all that DLC has to offer.
It did bug me a bit that I could not figure out where the key for that workshop was, early on. Once I found out it was locked behind DLC, it was another reason to entice me to purchase it. The main reason I bought both DLCs was to support the developers, since I knew the Blackstone one was a very barren DLC.
Pale Reach, on the other hand, was more than worth the price. It’s short, and only took me 2 to 3 hours to get through, but I’m glad I jumped in at the midway game point. The ice region it unlocked offered new equipment, sea life, side missions and a very useful rewards.
Since the whole new region was all ice, I had to purchase new ice fishing equipment. I like the variety and having to balance out the right type of equipment for the current goal. It was nice the new region added another layer to the base game variety. I really liked the ice breaker, though.
Breaking the Ice
When I first explored the Pale Reach, ice chunks blocked most paths and shortcuts. Once I collected parts for the ice breaker, I could plow right through. That helped keep things fresh by taking different paths. The whole story of the new area revolved around a ritual that trapped a captain and his crew.
I’d simply fetch ice picks to free their souls, but an aggressive narwhal (small whale with a spear for a nose) stalked me at various points in my exploration. I thought back to how annoyed the narwhal in Dave the Diver was for me, so funny that Dredge also used the creature as an antagonist.
Despite that stalker, I completed all the available side mission the Pale Reach had to offer and the rewards were worth it. Unlocking the ability to purchase ice blocks helped keep fish fresh in my storage, though the multipurpose trawl net reward was more helpful. Saved having to swap out net types so often.
The main reward, the Aurous Anchor, was the true prize of the whole adventure. With that I was able to drop it near the Volcanic region for the end game missions. It served as a 2 way portal. Manifest was able to teleport my boat to Blackstone isle, but having the anchor portal let me go back and forth with no cooldown.
This let me quickly find things I needed and basically fast travel close to where drop off points were. That reward is almost worth the DLC on its own. Time is very important in Dredge, so saving time with the anchor was very welcome.
Ending my Dredge Journey
After catching a ton of fish and seeing plenty of monsters, I reached the end of my voyage. Completing all the side missions afforded me the option for two different endings. There were “good” and “bad” versions of the ending. I took the time to see both, but honestly both are rather dark.
It’s one of those needs of the few versus needs of the many type of choices, but with a nice twist. Dredge was a worthwhile journey, despite the darkness. I have thank the Dave the Diver team for encouraging me to play Dredge to understand their crossover DLC. It’s not as light hearted as Dave the Diver, but the 16 or so hours I spent was well worth my time.
I hope Black Salt Games plans future DLC or a Dredge sequel. For now though, I can finally dive into the Dredge DLC for Dave the Diver, knowing everything I need to about the background.