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Dredge’s endings, explained

How to get the bad “default” ending and good “secret” ending

A small fishing boat pulled up on an island in Dredge. Image: Black Salt Games/Team17
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Trawling the depths in Dredge, you’ll come across a series of different people to aid you — or not — on your journey. One of those people is the Collector, a man who lives alone in a ruined mansion and tasks the player with, well, collecting a bunch of items thought to be lost to the sea. He’s key to the game’s mysterious story, and he’ll usher the fisherman toward the end of the game.

[Ed. note: This guide has spoilers for Dredge’s two endings.]

Dredge’s “bad” ending is essentially the default, the one that most players will stumble upon without knowing there’s any other option. Looking to force either of these endings? Here’s how you’ll do it.

A fishing boat sails away from a giant, one-eyed fish monster at nighttime in a screenshot from Dredge Image: Black Salt Games/Team17

How to get the “bad” — or default — ending in Dredge

To get Dredge’s bad ending, you’ll simply have to do as the Collector says: Find and bring him the five lost relics strewn throughout the ocean and its different archipelagos.

Once you’ve got them all, you’ll have to return to the Collector (who lives on Blackstone Island in the mansion). He’ll give you the option to move forward to the end of the game; there’s a warning that there’s no turning back from it. If you choose to move forward, he’ll mark a location on the map, but you should be able to see a red pillar of light emerging from the depths on the sea, too. Steer the ship there and interact with the pillar of light.

How to get the “good,” secret ending in Dredge

The good ending still requires you to grab all five relics at the Collector’s request, but instead of bringing the last one to him, you’ll keep it and take the red book from him. (You can skip the Old Mayor, by the way, and just start resisting the Collector, but it’s harder to understand the story.) Here’s what to do to understand the whole story:

  1. You’ll sail to an unnamed island near Devil’s Spine, at the northeastern side of the map. The small island is south of Devil’s Spine at the P10 coordinates on the map.
  2. Sail around the island until you find a dock to stop at. There’s a guy there, the old mayor of The Marrows.
  3. Talk to him and he’ll start revealing the truth of the matter, and he tells you to go to the Lighthouse Keeper.
  4. Go back to Greater Marrow to see her and she’ll tell you about the book and the secrets of the Collector.
  5. Return to the Collector and get the book from him. He’ll resist a few times, but keep asking for the book.
  6. When you get to the Step Closer prompt, press that and then take the book.
  7. Then return to the Lighthouse Keeper who will guide you to a different spot, G8, on the map — the lighthouse is illuminating the spot.

Dredge’s endings, explained

In the bad “default” ending, the Collector and the fisherman are using the relics to bring the dead wife back to life, which sort of happens, but a horrible monster is also revived — probably the Collector’s actual goal. This is basically the end of the world, and the surrounding islands go up in flames and everyone dies. Whoops!

In the good “secret” ending, you throw the book back when prompted, wait a bit and you and the book will get chomped up by a big sea monster.

Wait, what?

Are you confused? Let me explain. The game starts with the fisherman winding up at Greater Marrow with no memory. That’s because his memory was wiped, maybe by the power of the book. But the events that led up to that moment was what you uncover throughout the game: The fisherman’s wife and him were sailing the seas together and found the red book. A monster attacked the boat when they found it, and it was so horrific that the Old Mayor fled to that abandoned island while the Lighthouse Keeper stayed.

The book created the Collector to point the fisherman toward the relics and unlocking the evil powers of the ocean — that huge monster that sets flames upon the area. The Collector, you realize, is a reflection of the fisherman himself. In the bad ending, the woman floating above the sea is his wife, brought back to life with the sea monster. My theory is that the fisherman doesn’t realize the Collector is a reflection of his own mind in the “bad” ending.

The “good” ending is when the fisherman does realize it and understands the power of the book — which is why he throws it back.

The next level of puzzles.

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