It’s fair to say that I was late to the party with Dredge, and later still when it came to Dredge’s DLC expansion, The Pale Reach.
Languishing in my pile of ‘to be played’ titles, I finally picked it up a few weeks ago, while I was in-between games, and looking for something fresh to play. And what could be fresher than the catch of the day, dragged up from the ocean depths?
Part chilled-out fishing sim (with a gotta-catch-‘em-all encyclopedia of almost 150 different fishy-looking species to capture), part Lovecraftian horror, Dredge was a revelation to me.
Scratching an itch that I didn’t know I had, it slowly but surely reeled me in, and I devoured everything it had to offer in a couple of short weeks.
Having thoroughly explored the main game’s four main areas, I was well-placed to cast off and set sail to The Pale Reach, a DLC-sized extra fish course served up as a neat little side dish.
Does The Pale Reach make the most of the oppor-tuna-ty to expand on Dredge’s excellent gameplay, or is it just fishing for compliments? Let’s find out.
Winter Is Coming to Greater Marrow
Having plundered the depths of the oceanic, volcanic, and abyssal depths in the main game, The Pale Reach presents its icy waters for you to explore.
Once downloaded, the Pale Reach appears at the South of your game map, highlighted as a red question mark until you brave the waters and sail to the new area for the first time. It can be explored at any time during the main game, or you can tackle it post-game if you prefer.
The Pale Reach is a self-contained game area that is separate to the main storyline, and starting it early won’t have any effect on your progress in the central campaign.
Aw, Hell Naw…wharl
As with the other main areas of the game, The Pale Reach has its own monstrous inhabitant prowling its depths, for you to contend with.
This time, it’s in the form of a huge, mutated Narwharl, which will stalk you daily and nightly, looking to wreck your plucky little vessel and send you down to Davy Jones’s locker.
This ferocious, horned behemoth can be distracted momentarily by filling up pods scattered around the map with fish. Once filled, the fishy waft of each pod will entice the narwhal towards it, allowing you to pass by unnoticed and un-capsized.
And in some cases, it will crash through these pods, crushing the ice underneath, and revealing a new path for you to travel.
The constant threat of attack adds a welcome slice of dread, and works well with the game’s outstanding soundtrack, ratcheting up the tension at every turn. In The Pale Reach, the daytime’s are no longer safe and tranquil, as these waters can be disturbed at any time.
Ice, Ice, Baby
The Pale Reach features one main outpost, Bleak Pontoon, which is where you’ll sell your catch, repair any damage to your ship, and submit parts to build your ice breaker.
And unlike an awkward kind of question designed to help a group of strangers get to know each other better, this ice breaker is actually useful.
The pieces for the ice breaker attachment are blocked off at the start of the DLC, but through exploration and objective completion, they will be revealed.
Take them back to the shipright at Bleak Pontoon and she will construct one for you, allowing you to bust through ice in the water, and gain access to The Pale Reach’s hitherto unchartered waters.
Further exploration will reveal machinery pieces that can be used to make ice blocks, which come in very handy for keeping your catch fresher for longer.
The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway
Naturally, the icy waters of The Pale Reach also require specialist equipment to fish effectively. So expect the usual grinding for parts and dollars from the main game, to outfit your deck with the correct gear.
You’ll find several new species of fish and crab to catch in these frozen waters, as well as several unique aberrations to fill out your fishing encyclopedia.
In addition, you’ll also find several mysterious robed figures on certain areas of the map (as in the main game), who are looking for a particular species to sate their mysterious needs.
These enterprises are not necessary for the completion of the DLC, but do help to flesh it out a bit. And with this DLC being more of a fish finger sandwich than a full-on fish supper, you may be looking to get your money’s worth however you can.
The O-fish-ial Verdict
I loved my time with Dredge and really enjoyed playing through The Pale Reach as well. If I have any complaint about this DLC, it’s just that it runs a little short.
A leisurely jaunt through The Pale Reach’s shrimp-sized campaign saw me complete the lot in around two hours. There’s probably a few species that I still have left to catch, but in terms of story, puzzles, upgrades, and so on, it has been well and truly plundered of all content in that time.
In live music terms,The Pale Reach is like a two song encore from your favorite band. It’s more of what you love, and it’s great while it lasts, but it still leaves you wanting more. In oceanic terms, the waters of The Pale Reach run a little shallow.
Nevertheless, this encore is still worth your time, even if it doesn’t take up much of it. And for the price of a decent fried fish sandwich, you’d be cray cray to miss out.