DREDGE: The Pale Reach DLCby Peggy Doyle
In April I had the pleasure to discover and review Black Salt Games' Eldritch-inspired fishing sim, DREDGE, and it was easily one of my favourite games of 2023. You can read my review HERE. Spoiler alert, I gave it a 9/10; I loved it. There is now a new DLC for DREDGE, called The Pale Reach, and it's given me a great excuse to dive back into the game.
For only $8 CAD, I wasn't expecting much in terms of length of content, and it is a short playthrough. It's a new icy biome located South of the original map, and you can make your way there even if you haven't completed the original story. Once there you'll have a few missions for the photographer you meet on the dock that allow you to build an ice breaker for your little boat that is necessary for you to get through the floating pieces of ice debris that blocks your path. New gear is also available for this biome, and you will still run into the Tetris-like inventory management ‘fun' that you had before.
Your main antagonist in The Pale Reach DLC is another underwater monster, this time in the form of a giant Narwhal. If you play on the easiest mode in the settings, you will not be attacked by this Narwhal though, so you can have a more relaxing version of the game if you choose. But I played on normal, and that Narwhal will attack and sink you at any possible opportunity. Be prepared.
Luckily you can distract the narwhal by placing food at some conveniently placed feeding areas, allowing you some more time when looking for parts around the icy waters. Depending on how much you've upgraded your little vessel before starting this DLC will have a huge impact on how difficult dealing with the narwhal will be. The familiar feelings and underlying story of greed, isolation and loneliness are still there in this DLC as well.
Other than the Narwhal there isn't much to discover and do in The Pale Reach. There is some lore you can find through journals collected that detail the fate of another crew that had been there before you. There is another ‘mystery person' to complete their story and the rest is largely fetch quests. It will take around an hour to complete and you'll earn yourself a nice little trawling net once you complete it. If you want to complete the full fish logs, you can expect a couple more hours added to that. A lot of the fish collected, especially the aberrations, are based on luck.
How much enjoyment you get from The Pale Reach DLC will depend on how much you enjoyed the base game. For me, it was a great excuse to pick up one of my favourites of the year. I even messed around with some of the base content again, checking off missions I didn't complete.
DREDGE has some fantastic design and sound yet again with The Pale Reach. The wind, cracking of ice, the snow gently falling, and of course the random heart beats from indiscernible locations all add to the atmosphere I loved from when I first played the game.
Between the base game review I did and this DLC, there were also some quality-of-life adjustments made to the game. The most important note is that there is no more timer associated with the missions, meaning there is no more fail state for them. I like this a lot as I found the timers to be added stress in a game that already has a lot of moments to spike my heart rate. The easy mode mentioned earlier is also a welcome addition, meaning the game is now more accessible to more players as well. The photographer you meet at the Pale Reach Pier is a new character and once you complete her main mission you will receive a camera opening up the ability for photo mode in the game as well.
The Pale Reach DLC was given to us while we wait for the larger expansion, The Iron Rig, delayed until 2024, and I can't wait to see what this bigger expansion will give us in terms of story and gameplay. For now, if you like DREDGE, take a few hours and explore The Pale Reach DLC and see what's new and improved from the game that already captivated me. I've been reminded about how much I liked it and will be going back to pick up the last few achievements I missed from when I first played.