dave the diver review

Dave The Diver Review: An Unforgettable Underwater Adventure

9.0 TOTAL SCORE

Dave The Diver Review

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dave the diver

Dave the Diver expertly crafts all these gameplay elements into a cohesive, focused, and wonderfully enjoyable experience. Add in a dash of genuine humor, and you have the recipe for one of my favorite games of the year.

 


Score 9
PROS
  • Genuine 'laugh out loud' humor
  • A wide variety of quests
  • Addictive side content for completionists
CONS
  • Easy difficulty with no way to increase it
  • A few unclear mission objectives
  • Some mechanics are poorly explained

2023 has already been a banger for games, with great titles coming out of both the AAA and Indie spaces. One game I never thought would stand alongside juggernauts like Diablo 4 and Dredge is Dave the Diver, an aquatic adventure with so much charm and character I never wanted to stop playing.

Dave the Diver is a bold fusion of so many different genres it’s hard to keep up. There are RPG elements, a bit of light management thrown in there, oh, there’s even rogue-lite mechanics and gambling. I’d expect a blend like this to result in a muddled, confusing mess, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dave the Diver expertly crafts all these gameplay elements into a cohesive, focused, and wonderfully enjoyable experience. Add in a dash of genuine humor, and you have the recipe for one of my favorite games of the year.

In Dave the Diver, you play as, you guessed it, Dave, who’s joined a venture with a few friends to start the best sushi restaurant around. The story follows your escapades with your comrades, Cobra, and Bancho, a chef of few words and a master of his craft.

Your exotic locale of choice, the Blue Hole, has the unique habit of transforming every time you go for a swim, so every dive is different. Some areas remain consistent, but your gear resets every dive forcing you to scrounge for upgrades each time.

Dave is surprisingly mobile for an overweight guy in scuba gear (his size is constantly referenced), but controlling our protagonist took a while to figure out.

Dave the Diver takes lessons from the Resident Evil school of building tension in that Dave can’t shoot or use his harpoon when moving. On top of that, he can’t interact with things directly above or below him, which forces a methodical approach when hunting fish.

A Man of Many Vocations

Dave The Diver Review
He doesn’t know I memorized the entire board – Image by Anthony

My first few dives are quick, shallow affairs, but as the day’s roll by, I have to save baby dolphins, defend myself from unhinged Eco Warriors, collect trading cards for a knock-off Ash Ketchum, and rescue an anime figurine for an Arms Dealer.

I could write an essay on the sheer amount of absurd situations Dave finds himself in, and this onslaught of fantastic scenarios always made me look forward to the next one. The gameplay loop feels similar to Stardew Valley in that days go from empty to jam-packed the longer you play.

When the night rolls in, Dave becomes a waiter for Bancho’s Sushi Restaurant, and this is where the game becomes a management sim.

You need to carefully pick dishes for the menu, and their value is based on the fish you caught in your dives. Naturally, rare and dangerous fish yield more money, so the quality of your dives directly affects your profits at the end of the day. 

There’s nothing too complex, but eventually, you have to worry about ad campaigns for new staff, training, satisfying picky customers, and pouring perfect beers. Frantically dashing around to serve everyone on time is nerve-wracking, but it is much easier once I hired a couple of servers to help.

I love this part of the game, as you can put as many dishes on the menu as you like, but if you can’t keep up with the orders, your hard-earned catch goes to waste. There’s ‘risk vs. reward’ on land just as there is under the waves; it just hurts your wallet instead.

An Ocean of Complexity

dave the diver
It’s safer in the shallows – Image by Anthony

I was taken aback by how nuanced many of the mechanics are in Dave the Diver. I quickly realized that if I riddled a fish with bullets, it wouldn’t sell for much at the restaurant. Even the legendary Bancho can’t salvage a fillet if it’s ripped to shreds. I had to swim through some taxing hoops in search of the best quality ingredients.

After a few hours, you have many ways to catch fish and deal with threats. I prefer the up close and personal approach with the Triple Axel (basically an underwater shotgun), but there are sniper rifles and dart guns if that’s more your style.

There are even light Metroidvania elements, as you can’t explore the deepest depths of the Blue Hole from the start. After finishing a few story quests, I earned a headlamp which let me travel deeper into the murky depths than I ever could before.

With hard-earned cash from the Sushi Bar, I could buy better diving gear and carry more items before I had to return to the boat. 

This style of progression is satisfying, and many upgrades I earned transformed how I play and let me take bigger risks for the finest catch. 

Instead of getting physically hurt, any damage you take steals air from your oxygen tanks instead. If you ask me, that’s even worse as I have a fear of drowning! While it doesn’t often happen, you survive if you run out of oxygen, but your precious haul is lost to the sea. In this instance, you can only take a single item back from the depths. It’s a crushing penalty, but it rarely came into play unless I was being exceptionally reckless.

The Visuals are Better Down Where it’s Wetter

dave the diver
I’d watch a film about this guy – Image by Anthony

I’ve yet to tire of Pixel Art graphics, and Dave the Diver demonstrates how beautiful the style can be. The ocean is stunning, and it looks even better at night with plants and coral that glow in the moonlight, even if it’s more hostile when the sun sets.

The Sushi Bar looks great and even has cosmetic options to tinker with. The style feels more like an artistic choice than a limitation or a budget restraint.

I don’t use the word lightly, but the cutscenes are legendary. Each one is over the top and ridiculous, and the pixel art graphics are put to stunning effect. Whether it’s a customer falling in love with a dish or a terrified fish watching Bancho at work, these are the most memorable parts of the game for me.

I’d have loved to see more variations as there are a lot of repeats, but I’m satisfied with what’s on offer. When I enhanced dishes at the Sushi Bar, I watched Bancho do the same handful of actions dozens of times. They are so good; I didn’t skip a single one.

The hardest part of reviewing Dave the Diver is there’s so little to complain about. That being said, the game is quite easy. Once I realized how forgiving combat was, it took away my fear of exploring deeper, more treacherous waters.

The haunting soundtrack leagues below the waves would suggest I should fear for my life, but even the huge, intimidating bosses rarely caused me any trouble.

If you’re hungry for a challenging underwater adventure akin to aquatic Dark Souls, you won’t find it here, but I think that’s the point. Dave the Diver is at its best when you enjoy the story, make stacks of money, and progress into uncharted waters.

On that note, some quests are a little obtuse. One tasked me with catching Seahorses, but I couldn’t because I required a ‘tool.’ I was given said tool shortly after, but the problem was unsolvable until that point. I had similar issues with a few poorly explained mechanics, but most of these were simple enough to solve with a little trial and error.

If those sound like minor nitpicks, it’s because they are. Dave the Diver feels like a complete package with so much attention to detail that brings the world to life.

Even the social media app on your in-game phone is full of unique pixel art images of your sushi bar growing. Subtle flourishes like this sold me on the mysterious Blue Hole and the plight of Dave and his friends.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Genuine ‘laugh out loud’ humor
  • A wide variety of quests
  • Addictive side content for completionists

Cons

  • Easy difficulty with no way to increase it
  • A few unclear mission objectives
  • Some mechanics are poorly explained

FAQs

Question: How long is Dave the Diver?

Answer: Dave the Diver is roughly 25-30 hours if you want to see everything. If you’re not interested in sub-quests, I reckon you could see the game through to the end credits in 15 hours.

Question: Is Dave the Diver coming to consoles?

Answer: A port to the Nintendo Switch is confirmed on the official trailer for some time in 2023. At the time of writing, there is no mention of Dave the Diver coming to PlayStation or Xbox platforms.

Question: Does Dave the Diver have controller support?

Answer: Dave the Diver supports both Keyboard and Mouse and controller. Some minigames and events were clearly designed with controllers in mind, and analog stick movement feels better than buttons for moving underwater.

Verdict – 9/10

Plugin Snip: Dave the Diver is a fresh fusion of multiple genres expertly melded together to create a funny, memorable adventure game.

It’s a title that keeps on giving with solid gameplay and a delightful, lighthearted story. There’s plenty to see and do, whether you’re a completionist or just focused on getting to the end credits.

While a little on the easy side, Dave the Diver is a title I can recommend to anyone. If you’re a fan of unique indie experiences, this is a game you must add to your collection.

Dave the Diver is a sleeper hit I never saw coming and a masterful blend of RPG, adventure, and management elements. The developers at Mintrocket never shy away from a cheeky pop culture reference or the chance to throw something ridiculous into the mix, and I was always looking forward to what I’d see next.

Above all, Dave the Diver is fun and bombards the player with so many jokes a few are bound to land and make you smile. This aquatic adventure is as wide as an ocean with the depth to go with it.

Read More: Indie Game Reviews

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