Review: The Pale Reach DLC is a great excuse to dive back into Dredge

dredge the pale reach

It’s no secret that I absolutely loved BackSalt Games’ Dredge. Spoilers for my upcoming ‘best games of 2023’, it’s certainly going to be one there, as of my favorites of the year. That’s for good reason: Dredge is just that good. I was looking for an excuse to dive back in and lo and behold, there’s new DLC for it in the form of The Pale Reach.

I won’t beat around the bush here: it’s super quick to get through it. It basically adds a new icy biome to the game, the titular Pale Reach, which is located south in the map. Once it’s installed, you can make your way there at any point during the game, where you’ll find activities to partake in and the pieces to put together the new icebreaker that is fitted in front of your little ship, which comes in handy navigating the relatively small landmass of the Reach.

It doesn’t take long for you to find the only other human there, who happens to be the photographer, the same one introduced in one of Dredge’s post-release updates. She asks you to deal with the deadly narwhal that’s been stalking her, which happens to be your main antagonist of sorts when boating around the island. It charges at you and can certainly sink your little boat if you’re unprepared.

dredge the pale reach
Be sure to put together the icebreaker as soon as you can. It’s incredibly useful!

Luckily, you can distract it by placing food in a conveniently placed feeding ground, which gives you time to go wherever you need to go. In my case, since I had pretty much fully upgraded my boat by the time I got to the new location, it was easy to overrun the beast, but if you’re coming into this fresh off the Greater Marrow pier, it can prove to be a formidable obstacle.

In terms of other quests, you’ll find that the progression is tied to the little story there is to discover as you explore the Reach. It deals with the crew of another boat that made its way there and met their unfortunate end. It’s a chilling tale to be sure, and you piece it together by finding journals all around the small landmass, much in the way the main game’s lore is dealt to you. The rest mostly boils down to a fetch quest that shouldn’t take you more than an hour to finish, fetching you a tremendously useful trawling net in the process.

While this may make this DLC sound like it is not that much to speak of, it will all depend on how well you liked your time playing Dredge. I for one loved every second of the main content and certainly enjoyed The Pale Reach as it gave me an excuse to come back to the game and finish what was left of its trophies in order to get the platinum, something I very rarely do these days. That’s just how much this game meant to me this year!

dredge the pale reach
The narwhal can be especially deadly to newer players.

It’s worth mentioning that in the time between my original review and this one there have been some significant “quality of life” updates to the game, which I hadn’t experienced until now. Chief among them is that there’s no more timer tied to some of the requests, which makes it so there’s no “fail state” to them. There’s also the aforementioned photographer, who gives you a camera you can take pictures with when you finish her quest. 

In sum, The Pale Reach is a relatively short DLC, truth be told. If you aim to finish everything that there is to be done, that is, complete the island’s fish log – including its new aberrations – as well as clear out the quest list, it should take you around a couple hours, tops. It’ll all depend on your luck with the random factor when it comes to getting fish variations, which works the same way as in the main game.

The new biome fits in well with the rest of the world of Dredge, and if you have yet to get started in the game, it’s a location that you’ll naturally explore over the course of your adventure. For people like me who are coming back to it for this DLC, it might prove to be a tad too easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a pleasure given that it’s more Dredge to be had, and that alone is reason enough for me, really.

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