Dave the Diver Review – A Tasty Dose of Vitamin Sea

Dave the Diver Artwork

Dave the Diver for PC

For quite some time now, I’ve been looking for a good ole’ classic slice-of-life game with a somewhat linear storyline. I’ve already had my fill with the likes of farming simulators and wanted something fresh that didn’t necessarily involve the restoration of my grandfather’s old business. Then, out comes Dave the Diver, which ultimately feels like two games rolled into one, as you take on the role of a diver by day and help run a sushi restaurant by night.

The first time I dove into the watery world of Dave the Diver, I was instantly hooked by its whimsical dialogue, vibrant 2D graphics, and addicting gameplay. However, despite the character’s 2D design, the landscape takes a different shape through its 3D environment, changing the dynamic of the overall art style. You’ll meet Dave, who often gets a double look due to his big-boned appearance, but he never lets the insults get to him and continues taking down the sea’s most fearsome creatures.

As a diver, players must collect fish for Bancho’s restaurant during the day, accumulating the chef’s inventory for the night. While it may seem like there isn’t much to do in the sea, there’s actually a whole world down in the Blue Hole that is full of life and wonders. Each fish offers a different challenge every time, where you’ll need to strategize your actions in order to bring them down successfully.

Even the smallest critters can prove troublesome as they try to deplete your oxygen levels, and it gets much worse with more sizable creatures in the depths, from sharks to giant squids. One of my favorite features with these “enemies” is their discoverable weaknesses, a concept often neglected in newer games. In particular, instead of hitting an opponent over and over again, players will need to analyze their foe first to find out what point of impact works the best.

Sometimes, you’ll need to use bombs to rip off the outer shell of a creature, and other times you have to put them to sleep to capture them alive. In return, every boss feels different from the last, and it’s refreshing to see a variety of battles to complete with each passing chapter.

Dave the Diver Diving Gameplay
Image Source: MINTROCKET via Twinfinite

On the other hand, it’s not all about collecting fish, as side quests and main missions provide alternative objectives without using a single weapon. It can be as simple as grabbing coral from the ocean’s deep trenches or asking Bancho to create a special dish for a VIP customer. Even more so, there are plenty of these tasks and storylines to go around, making the gameplay almost feel endless. And, given that Dave the Diver is relatively low in price, it certainly feels like a steal with how much it has to offer.

Although the sea can be terrifying to explore, the sushi restaurant makes it all worth it as you utilize the resources you’ve collected for the ever-changing menu. I firmly believe that this makes Dave the Diver a unique title since it genuinely makes you feel like you are driving the story through your actions. For instance, if you capture a Frilled Shark, then Bancho will serve that same critter that night, giving more meaning to your ocean adventures.

Considering that I’ve worked in a restaurant for half a decade, I wanted to see if Dave the Diver could capture the stress and thrill of this particular work style. Fortunately, the game proved successful in this feat, making me feel the same pressure I felt during those chaotic rushes (in a good way.) The gameplay of Bancho’s restaurant is incredibly fast-paced and will keep you on your toes as customers come pouring into the establishment.

Bansho's Restaurant in Dave the Diver
Image Source: MINTROCKET via Twinfinite

Even if Dave is a speedy beast in the waters, he can’t walk as fast on land, so you’ll need to hire a staff to help him with his setbacks. Mainly, you’ll pour drinks for the patrons and clean up dirty tables, but you can always help by taking out meals and preparing wasabi. Players will also have complete control over the menu and must decide which dishes make the cut for the night.

As you may expect, rare and bigger fish bring out more flavors in the recipes, and you can enhance them over time to increase your popularity on the Cooksta app. Nevertheless, on some occasions, specific creatures will offer more profit, whether it be a party-themed night or a VIP customer that enlists a particular dish. These events are often set for a small duration; therefore, you must dabble in time management to get better results.

Besides the restaurant and diving exploration, Dave the Diver features many RPG mechanics, such as unlocking abilities, leveling up the gear collection, and crafting tools. If you want to make it further in the story, it’s up to you to assign the best equipment for Dave, or else you may end up with a dreadful ‘Game Over’ screen. However, as someone who isn’t the greatest with RPGs, it was easy to grasp, and I was able to build a suitable outfit set for his more dangerous endeavors.

Not to say that I didn’t struggle with combat because I absolutely did, especially when you go toe-to-toe with the Moray Eel and Truck Hermit Crab. Yet, it wasn’t enough to make me close out the game, and it was more along the lines of “Tomorrow, you will be mine, you fishy beast!” The only thing I will say is that I wish there were some form of a map since it can be overwhelming to find the right location. Luckily, you can unlock a tracker to assist you with this later down the line, in which you can pinpoint a fish’s exact destination.

Of course, we can’t forget about the characters of Dave the Diver, each with their own quirky personality and story. I love seeing the interaction between Dave and Bancho, primarily the subtle icon of the chef giving the main protagonist a thumbs-up every time you send fish his way. The cutscenes are also very entertaining, considering how bizarre and humorous they can be. One minute, you’ll be dancing the night away at an idol concert with Duff, then the next, you’ll catch ’em all with the Ash Ketchum-inspired Sato.

With so many elements of Dave the Diver, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface since many other concepts bring even more to the table, including a fully functional phone, fish farming, and fun minigames. But, if you want to experience it in its entirety, you’ll have to swim your way to Steam to get this absolute gem of a game. I know I’m already hooked in, and it’s quickly become one of the best titles I’ve played this year.

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award

Dave the Diver Critic Review

Reviewer: Kristina Ebanez | Awards: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.