Wednesday 21 June 2023

Dredge! Fishing and dodging monsters on a piscatorial quest

Yes, I'm reviewing a game. No, I didn't get it free or anything, I just bought it myself like a normal person.


Well, now you've watched the trailer, let me tell you that it gives you a pretty good idea what's going on. The time period is 'between the wars' and the location is a fictional archipelago where they buy and sell in dollars. It's a New Zealand game, btw, so the dollars aren't necessarily US - but probably are. As the player you take the role of a nameless fisherman answering an ad from a place called Greater Marrow. 

Everything is going fine in the opening movie bit until you run your boat aground on the rocks right underneath a massive lighthouse. Your fishing boat is a write-off. You're rescued and the mayor of Greater Marrow offers you a deal - you can use a refurbished old boat if you pay off the cost from a fraction of your catch. You agree and off you go, fishing away merrily. As you amass funds and do research, you improve your rods, nets, engines and so on. So far, so normal.

Except... there's obviously some weird stuff going on. You visit the shipwright and she seems to be fixing a hull that's been ripped open by something big and nasty. The fishmonger in Greater Marrow is a weird old bloke obsessed with rare and abnormal species. He'll pay extra for oddities. And why is everyone warning you not to go out at night? 

Also odd are the messages in bottles that you pick up now and again. These tell the story of a couple on a yachting holiday, apparently having a good time. But then they find something, a book, and everything changes. How is this connected to the strange man living in a mansion on a private island, who has a special task for you? And what, ultimately, will you dredge up? Suffice to say there are obstacles to hamper your quest. Large ones with lots of teeth. 



Suffice to say this is a fun, absorbing game that combines fishing, handling inventory stuff, improving your boat etc with a bonkers Lovecraftian plot involving lost civilizations, giant monsters, magical powers, and lots more besides. It's atmospheric, often witty, and absorbing. It's not a massively long game but it's long enough to get into the world of the Marrows and the surrounding islands. And there are tentacles. Big, big tentacles. As I found out to my cost when I stumbled on the abandoned research station on Stellar Strand...

I won't give any more away. Suffice to say that, if you like games and enjoy a horror twist, without things being too demanding (or scary), this might be the one for you. 



Sunday 18 June 2023

NIGHTMARE ABBEY

Issue 3 of Nightmare Abbey is as good as the first two, which means very good indeed. As before, editor Tom English offers us a heady mix of fiction, new and old, plus some excellent factual items. And then there's the artwork, both cover and interior, which recalls the golden age of pulps. Much of what's here wouldn't have looked out of place in Weird Tales c. 1930. However, the bias among the reprint stories is more skewed toward the earlier magazine era when M.R. James and co. roamed the earth. 




Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...