Dave the Diver review

Dave the Diver plunges players into an unexpectedly enticing deep-sea odyssey that hooks you from the get-go. This retro indie RPG manages to defy expectations with its quirky premise, delivering a charming and immersive experience that punches well above its weight. With a boatload of humor, addictive gameplay, and surprising depth, Dave the Diver far surpassed my initial impression. While it may not achieve perfection, this underwater adventure is an absolute gem, earning a solid 8/10 from me.

At first glance, Dave the Diver may seem like a buoyant romp through watery depths, but it quickly reveals itself to be so much more. The story follows Dave as he opens a sushi bar near the enigmatic Blue Hole, a mystical underwater domain that constantly transforms and teems with intriguing marine life. What begins as a light-hearted tale morphs into a substantial narrative, filled with complex characters and unexpected plot twists. The diverse cast of colleagues-turned-friends keeps you engrossed, thanks to their amusing and memorable cutscenes. These interactions are so entertaining that I couldn’t bring myself to skip them, even after being thoroughly acquainted with each one.

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Beyond its engrossing story, Dave the Diver offers an impressive restaurant-management simulation that will have you hooked. Juggling diving expeditions, battling aquatic menaces, and completing quests is only half of the equation. The bulk of your time will be spent overseeing your sushi shop, crafting recipes, training employees, and satisfying an eclectic customer base.

The diving mechanics are where the real magic happens – wielding weapons like harpoons, guns, and nets, you’ll hunt and capture fish, all while navigating treacherous environments and battling deadly underwater foes. Dave the Diver rewards cunning over brute force, incentivizing players to capture fish alive with finesse, rather than indulging in a reckless shooting spree. This nuanced approach to combat allows for creative and amusing encounters, whether you’re tranquillizing massive sharks or bringing down the hammer on unsuspecting prey.

Gameplay loop

Occasional boss battles and puzzle-solving sections add welcomed diversions to the core gameplay loop, injecting fresh excitement and variety. However, these encounters lack a significant challenge, with most bosses succumbing to predictable patterns. The puzzles, while visually appealing, are often elementary, presenting little more than mere busywork. Despite this, the journey remains enjoyable, largely due to the constant stream of new and ridiculous mechanics that keep players engrossed. The developers’ wild imagination shines through, with players engaging in activities like gambling, underwater photography, and racing seahorses, adding an extra layer of awesome absurdity to the game.

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Dave the Diver’s management side offers a spreadsheet lover’s dream. Running a successful sushi bar requires you to navigate a myriad of tasks, including gathering materials, hiring and training staff, nurturing agriculture and fish farms, concocting delectable recipes, and expanding your menu. Watching sales charts climb and meticulously building your business becomes an addictive dopamine rush, often pushing players to undertake one more dive to gather ingredients and make improvements. The depth and planning required to prepare for a single night of sushi-slinging is nothing short of entrepreneurially enthralling.

While it can be argued that Dave the Diver sometimes bites off more than it can chew, not all of its novelty minigames hit the mark. These thrown-together diversions, though brief, often fall flat, feeling like remnants that could’ve been left on the cutting-room floor. Still, they don’t detract from the overall experience but serve as quirky surprises that add a touch of charm.

It’s worth noting that Dave the Diver isn’t without its share of bugs and technical hiccups. The occasional disappearance of the UI, intangible enemies, and framerate drops can be irksome, particularly during pivotal moments and encounters, leading to frustrating setbacks and even complete restarts.

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Despite its imperfections, Dave the Diver remains a remarkable and unforgettable RPG adventure. Its heartwarming narrative and endearing characters make it difficult to put down, while the addictive gameplay loop and constant stream of surprises keep you thoroughly engaged. With its blend of exploration, sim management, and a menagerie of delightful oddities, Dave the Diver has undoubtedly secured its place as one of the best games of the year for me.

Dave the Diver sold over 1 million copies

With its cool 2.5D pixel look, fun characters, and neat cutscenes, lots of players are joining Dave and his pals in their sea journey. In one day, Dave the Diver shot up the charts to be the #2 best seller on Steam. Since starting, Dave the Diver had a top player count of 98,000 at one time, got 66k viewers on Twitch, was named #5 Best PC Game of 2023 on Metacritic, and got a spot in OpenCritic’s 2023 top list. The game also got a thumbs up from IGN and a special badge from Polygon.

About the author

Tom Henry

I worked as a PM in video games, now I'm trying some new things.