Dredge is a fishing game with eldritch nastiness lurking beneath the surface. It's a perfect combo, and although the spooky side never descends into true horror, there's an ever-present sense of unease as you explore the small open ocean and its island outposts.

Playing as a freshly hired fisherman, you begin the game catching fish in the relatively shallow waters near Greater Marrow, steadily earning some cash. You're warned to not stay out after dark, as strange things start to happen on the water. With some (usually more valuable) fish only catchable during the night, the game baits you onto the dark depths, where things do indeed start to go awry. The narrative has you hunting for special relics across the game's map, hauling them up from the H2O for a mysterious collector.

Sadly, the story didn't really grab us, but the game makes up for it in other ways. Between finding those artefacts, you spend most of your time fishing, exploring, and upgrading your boat. Fishing is no more than a simple minigame, but an encyclopedia tracks known species, and you have to scout specific spots on the water to find them. A lot of the map is open ocean, but there's always an island in the distance that's hiding some secret, or valuable treasure. Upgrading your ship is vital; inventory space, improved hulls, and better equipment are all necessary to catch bigger fish and survive all the spooky shenanigans.

While the execution is rather simple, Dredge's core loop is really compelling. It's always satisfying to upgrade the boat, as is gaining new abilities and finding new fish (and their creepy altered forms). On top of that, you're never short of things to do, be they simple side missions, dredging shipwrecks for resources, or avoiding those nightly threats.

We will say the gameplay can become repetitive when you need to grind for cash or certain items. Additionally, managing the game's grid-based menus can be pretty fiddly. The remedy for both things is those all-important upgrades, which smooth out frustrations with cramped inventories or limited fishing capabilities. Despite any rocky waters, though, Dredge's rewarding progression and enjoyable premise keep it afloat.