DREDGE - The Pale Reach Review
DREDGE - The Pale Reach is one of the best indie titles of the year (read our review to see why!) so when given the opportunity to try out its first DLC — The Pale Reach — I jumped at the chance to dive into the murky depths of this fantastic fish 'em up adventure. But what's new with this latest content? And is it worth the price of admission?
You're free to begin the DLC at any point in your nautical adventure, as The Pale Reach begins when you head south into a new frozen environment. The tonal shift as you approach this unexplored landscape had me excited; what new fish could I catch? What unsettling creatures lurked below my ship's keel?
Before too long, you'll encounter a new face: a travelling merchant with all manner of vital supplies for your icy voyage. The standout item that you'll want to start saving up for is the icebreaker, which allows your boat to smash up any chunks of ice that are stopping you from sailing further.
It's very much more of the same, but when that means more of DREDGE, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. You'll roam the new region catching fish, taking on a variety of quests, and satisfying that need to explore the unknown, just in a brand-new area! It should come as no surprise to learn that there are new fish to catch, as well as new equipment needed to catch the slippery fiends. And — just like the main game's sea life — they're all very well-designed, with detailed notes included within the Encyclopedia.
You may need to catch more fish than you intend to sell, though, as this region has a particularly hungry monster that doesn't mind nipping up to take a bite out of your hull now and again, regardless of the time of day. To counter this, you'll set up bait at predetermined areas in order to draw this frosty leviathan away from your precious tugboat. With the new map feeling a lot tighter as you carefully navigate huge mounds of ice, things can get tense if you find yourself out of bait whilst slowly navigating some of the more claustrophobic bodies of water.
This hidden menace ties into the small amount of story told in The Pale Reach. You'll come across various sailors that provide context on the beast, and though it isn't a hefty new chunk of narrative — particularly since there wasn't much of a conclusion — it was, as ever, enthralling to just explore and uncover new snippets of lore surrounding yet another Lovecraftian mystery.
Despite its short runtime of around three hours, The Pale Reach is definitely not content you want to ignore if you were a fan of DREDGE. Whilst not offering much in the way of new mechanics, the extra region to explore and new fish to catch add to what is an already incredible title. I especially loved how developer Black Salt Games managed to make the game particularly tense, thanks to clever use of the environment. As long as you aren't expecting a huge new expansion, then The Pale Reach is definitely a good enough reason to dive back into this gorgeous, if often unsettling, world.
DREDGE - The Pale Reach (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Short and sweet, The Pale Reach offers the perfect excuse to return to the world of DREDGE. And as one of the best indie titles of the year, how could anyone refuse?