Dredge Review: The Horrors that Lie Below

Be warned: What you are about to play may be disturbing to some.

The journal entries you are about to read were found off the coast of Alaska. They document the experience of one reviewer and their descent into an ocean of enjoyable madness in Black Salts Games and team 17’s Dredge.

Journal Entry One: Welcome To Greater Marrow

I Write this journal as a means to chronicle my time with the horror-filled fishing adventure game Dredge on the Steam Deck (available on Steam, GoG, Xbox, and PlayStation). Before you read on about how haunting and fun my life as a Fisher was, a quick note. My fishing adventure was 100% on a Steam Deck handheld and docked. The ocean I sailed on was a smooth 60 FPS with every setting maxed. Finally, the performance hit no icebergs during my journey.

The sea is unforgiving; one wrong move and you’re dead. That’s where I thought I’d find myself after ramming into the lighthouse, which suddenly appeared before me. However, I woke up alive, not dead. Instead of seeing Davy Jones’s locker before my eyes, I gaze upon the small coastal town named Greater Marrow, the place I would soon call my second home, the first being the sea. The wreck damaged my vessel beyond repair (that’s what the Mayor standing before me says.) This Mayor gives me a new vessel under the promise of paying it off. This “new” vessel was new to me but not new to the water or even Neptune’s rage, as displayed on the damaged hull. Before leaving, he gives me a heavy warning: be back before sundown and do not linger when the night rolls in.

I wonder to myself what’s so bad when the dark embraces the water.

The fish are easier to catch here than at home. I find a bubble, stop my boat and release my line. Surprisingly time only continues while in motion; this could be while moving or fishing. Yet if stationary in the sea, everything, even time is at a standstill, this momentary pause helps me plan ahead. To catch the fish, I need to reel it in at the perfect moment, which consists of hitting the arrow once it’s over the green or yellow spot. Once I get the rhythm in sync, they reel in faster. Nonetheless, If I miss, it takes longer to catch the slippery bastards. After catching my first fish, I quickly noticed that not only was this vessel damaged from years of use, but it has limited storage in its cabin. Each fish and item takes a certain amount of blocks, with different fish being unique. Like a made-from-scratch jigsaw puzzle, I  move and rotate each aquatic life I capture, so I can fit as much as possible. The act of fishing is addictive. I can see myself doing this for a long time.

Needing to pay off my debt, I return to sell the fish I have caught. While doing this, I met my second acquaintance – the Fishmonger. Seeing this merchant, I come to the realization that this town is full of unique characters, each with their own harsh personalities and elegant designs. Be that as it may, they all feel like they belong in this world with fascinating histories to share. As much as I like it here, I am scared. Something is – weird? Maybe it’s because I’m an outsider? Then I meet another merchant, who I will be visiting a lot – the Shipwright. She seems more than capable of making vast improvements to my vessel and items. She seems to not care for me being here as well. As I leave, she informs me that installing new items takes time; this is completely understandable.

Before leaving, the mayor hands me what he calls research parts. I’m in luck as this ship comes with blueprints that the shipwright can make into items, thus becoming purchasable. Before setting out on my next trip, I sleep.

Journal Entry Two: Join Us, The Water is Great

Although my first few days in this new place are enjoyable, I quickly run into a problem. Searching behind the island to the east, I find rubble that I am not able to dredge yet. I pull out my map; curiously, I have no pen and I must mark it. Although this isn’t ideal, as problems go, it’s small. But having the ability to make notes on the map would do wonders. I return to the front of the island of the east to learn that it’s called Little Marrow. This information was given by an older gentleman who buys unique items such as antiques and jewelry. I’ll make sure to return to him. As I continue to fish, I lose track of time as one does when having fun. I can see this happening a lot from here on out. The fog I was warned about had already slipped over me. It’s dark, so dark I cannot see off the bow. I turn my light on, yet this barely penetrates the utter darkness and thick fog. I am saved by the buoys and lighthouse that beckon me towards Great Marrow. I feel the jolt and hear the breaking of boards before I see it. All of a sudden, a large rock appeared before me. I panic. Who wouldn’t? I just damaged my hull and lost some fish. I NEED to make it back NOW. I take a deep breath and carry on. To my delight, I make it back before things get worse. Nonetheless, I am petrified of what transpired.

Before I can sell these fish, the Fishmonger tells me about a side order. If I am able to provide what the customer desires, I will get above normal prices; I agree. After this hectic night a good night’s rest is deserved.

As I awaken from my slumber, an older woman approaches me. She seems to not want me around (no surprise) and warns me that there is nothing here for me.

Following this exchange, I am tasked with my first side job. The mayor needs a package delivered to the Dock Worker at Little Marrow.

The contents feel weird and not of this world. Instead, they’re just a mess of shapes. I can feel the dampness of the package seep into my bones. I notice a slight drip from the corner as the wet sound lands on my cargo bay, reverberating in my skull. I have no problem delivering items for others, but this terrifies me in an unnatural manner. What could be in this? As I start to leave, there’s a loud jolly laugh; it’s the Mayor again. This time informing me with great delight that my debt is not only paid but has helped the town thrive. Because of this, the Dry Dock is open, a place I can trade material I dredge up for ship upgrades like more cargo space.

On my way with the package, I stopped to fish. I could fish all day and never bore, be that as it may, I must deliver this package. While melting into the relaxing song of the sea, I hear a pitter-patter signaling the beginning of rain; this reminds me of home. The pause of being stationary does wonders to help me fully embrace the beautiful sites and pleasurable noises and melodies. I see myself stopping more in the future to soak it all in. Not only does the sea look inviting, but so do the islands and everything surrounding me. How can something so beautiful be so terrifying at night? Handing the package to the Dock Worker, he slightly tears it open and shields it from me. With the transaction complete I am paid with money and a book. Luckily, I am able to read them in my cabin while sailing. In the long run, it will help my ability to fish, among other things. It’s the middle of the day, but my cargo bay is full. I should sell before the fish rot. Making my way back to the Fishmonger, I sell part of an order and my remaining fish.

After catching a few more squid, I realize it’s pitch black. I can barely see the buoys and the lighthouse. However, my small vessel light fights back some of the fear. I see a purple and red Haze near me. I ignore it and fish. Hours pass, it is now 2:00 a.m. I fear for my life. I twitch with fear and start panicking. The colors surrounding me have an aroma. How can I smell colors? They’re bright, making the world seem like a crudely drawn painting. I fear that if I don’t make it back to either town, my panic will increase. I shudder at what happens then. I’m so close, but my eyes oscillate violently; I can’t see where I’m going. The town’s outlines are an erratic dance of bright lines. Aegir, help me. I barely made it back. After selling the fish, I sleep extra because the normal amount doesn’t feel right.

Although the night was terrifying, the gorgeous ocean water stretched out before me, and the relaxing music excited me for another day out fishing. I need to be brave and venture out further to meet people, find islands, and find new fish. Finishing my book, I am granted a boon; I have a 10% chance not to reduce fish stock. It seems reading does enhance the mind. Now to save up enough money to buy better fishing equipment. Fishing is life; fishing is love.

Journal Entry Five: We Are (Not) Alone

I shouldn’t have done what I did. It’s not natural. This grotesque thing is abnormal, what is this place? I shouldn’t have gone to that shining light.

Journal Entry Seven: The Sound of Silence

I shouldn’t have ventured as far as I did to see that shining light. Before it got even worse, I found a small dock where I was able to rest. Making it back to Great Morrow, I give the Fishmonger the corrupted fish I found at night. It looks alien, with weird dark colors that seem to pulsate. I’m glad to rid of it. As I left, I noticed someone was watching me from the window. They want me to meet at the house I previously found called Blackstone Isle. None of this seems right, but I’d be lying if I said the adrenaline didn’t give me a sense of wonder. On my way, I placed the crab pot the Fishmonger gave me. It appears that there are many ways to catch fish.

He calls himself the Collector and gives me equipment to dredge the wrecks and dark depths to look for lost relics he is after. The reward will be something beyond my imagination. I originally thought this would just be a fishing job, but every day has taken unexpected turns, and this excites me. To find shipwrecks, he recommends I talk to others.

I find my first shipwreck behind the Great Morrow, it’s late, so I make it fast. Luckily the sea gods are on my side, as it’s filled with many riches.

Making my way back to rest, I hear a loud noise in the distance. To my surprise, there is another boat far out. It’s late; do I risk it and see where it’s going? I make my way closer to the lights on the boat, but the boat disappears. Was that my mind playing tricks on me? Back in town, I pick up some side jobs helping others. How can I not help another person in need in the world we live in? I continue dredging items. Again, time slips by fast, and the cold of night arrives. The vessel’s light flickers off; after a few seconds, it comes back. There are small voices bouncing around in my skull, but I can’t make out what they say. This has happened before, but this time, the whispers are louder, and the town seems so far, I barely make it to the dock.

I must sleep before I lose my mind. Once up, it’s time to finish some side jobs.

Journal Entry Ten: A Terrible Discovery and Helping Others

It’s been a few days, and my crab pot is full. It’s a bountiful catch. With some of the resources, I can finally upgrade my ship; nevertheless, I need money, so I continue fishing. It’s a cycle of fishing, sailing, helping, traveling, and selling, and I couldn’t be happier with my life. But beware of the night. One horrid night something slithered into my cargo and corrupted the fish I had caught. Strangely enough, the Fishmonger wants me to catch more of these corrupted fish as he has an interest in them. I gave him a few, but the next day I returned, he seemed different. There is something rancid happening. On other nights I barely make it to the docks with my damaged vessel. At first, the price isn’t bad, but it adds up. Although the nights are torturous, I love the time I am spending here. I have helped so many others; I enjoy helping these people. The little missions all the towns folk give me really help with the sense of dread I feel at times while giving me more to do.

Journal Entry: T……..Rea…..Monst…


There…..large long skeleton…… I.….never seen…..t……. it scares me.

I made it to another…..up…..,….monsters…….


Researcher notes: Sadly this journal entry was ripped up and covered in various liquids.

Final Journal Entry: A Life Worth Living

We are not alone in the universe. There are things out there that are unimaginable and terrifying. Despite that, I am okay with it. I have my fish, and they have me.

My journal comes to an end, yet my journey doesn’t. I have spent hours in this world, but I don’t tire of it. The ocean welcomes me with open arms, and I embrace it back. Through my hardships and countless days here, I have upgraded my ship to the point that I don’t fear the dark, but it should fear me. I am light. I am speed reincarnated. The activities I indulge myself in fill me with hours of tremendous fun that I constantly go back to. My future will be filled with hours on end of fishing until I can find all species, even then, I plan on carrying on. The world is gorgeous, with a sense of wonder yet also dread. Not only will the locations draw you in, but the melodies you hear will lure you. After a while, like me, you will see your vessel improve, and the world will be your oyster.

No matter if you are new or experienced with fishing, Dredge is something completely worth experiencing, but beware, as this world will consume you. If ye be brave, Dredge is a hell of a catch.

By Jason Jeffords Jr

Jason may not be good at making bios, but they sure can survive the frozen crime-ridden tundra and believes that they're semi-okay at writing about things they enjoy. Wanna see more of their word massacres? Check out their Twitter - @JJRwrites

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