Wading into deep waters, falling down into the blue with one thought in your mind. What fish will I serve tomorrow? Do I have enough soy sauce for everyone? But suddenly, a huge octopus bars your way. Time to grab that rifle and fight. For sushi and glory. Yes, it’s just another day in our Dave the Diver review.
Dave was just minding his own business, relaxing on a faraway beach. But money waits for no man, so he rushes after a phone call promising untold riches waiting in the ocean – there’s money in them there fishes. Now he can spend his time fishing, using them for a sushi restaurant. In his spare time, he also explores traces of a lost mermaid civilization. You know, all in a day’s work.
You spend the day diving into the ocean and fishing out succulent pieces of meat (well, fish meat), but at night you double as manager of the sushi restaurant. It all works together to create a little satisfying gameplay action/RPG/roguelite loop. Invest in the restaurant while also investing in your diving equipment and keep exploring to find new items. Of course, not all equipment will be available right away, instead finding pieces of stuff on the ocean floor is key to unlocking new stuff.
As you progress, Dave the Diver will unlock new things to do. Such as collecting cards for fish, side missions for the local ecological no-profit organisation, fighting against pirates or missions to help out dolphins. Almost every day there is something new to do, which keeps the loop from becoming stale. Sure, there might be something to be said about how the game’s narrative purposefully avoids tackling fishing and sustainability. But hey, it’s just a game, right?
Diving is your main job, and it works mighty fine. The air supply doubles as health, so be careful not to be left without. Using small tanks or finding shells or tanks in the ocean give us more air. Dashing and making use of extra items is often the key to surviving long enough to bring back a plentiful bounty. Your main weapons are the harpoon gun and an actual rifle. Shooting, done by keeping A pressed and aiming and firing with RT, might take a while to get used to. Naturally, the tougher the fish, the bigger the weapon needed, along with possible QTEs to catch them.
At night, managing the restaurant is mostly about running around and keeping customers happy. Sometimes you serve a beer or green tea, but once you have the personnel, things calm down. It is also possible to enhance your menu choices, redecorate the restaurant and get some rare fish to please VIP customers. The narrative beats will go hand in hand with the rest of the gameplay, as you meet more and more wacky characters and discover more about our chef Bancho’s strange backstory.
Nighttime is also the right time to go fishing, again. While it is definitely more dangerous, it will open up possibilities to catch more exotic varieties. Depending on how we catch fish (alive or dead), their rating as ingredients will follow suit. While things do change at night, the overall ocean floor doesn’t really change drastically. While good to get familiar with the floor, a bit more “roguelite” variety would have helped.
Graphically, Dave the Divers uses a classic pixel art style but mixes it up enough that it looks quite satisfying as well. Each fish has its character and style, even though they are mostly kept realistic. Especially lovingly rendered are the small cutscenes here and there, such as sushi master Bansho getting ready to carve fish with his knives. They add tons of flavors to the proceedings, much like turmeric or wasabi.
Dave the Diver is just overall satisfying. Much like a lovingly crafted sushi bite, it works thanks to an amalgam of flavors and tiny details, all mixed together to satisfy almost every palate. Much like sushi, you might want another bite soon enough because that gameplay loop is so enjoyable that you might just want more and more. Perhaps, you’ll find yourself so full that you’ll avoid fish for a bit, but that’s the fun as well.
Our Dave the Diver review was made possible with a key by Evolve PR. Dave the Diver is available on Steam.
Dave the Diver: Dave the Diver is a layered up sushi bite of sweet and sour mechanics, all wrapped up in a tasty roll. Dive in and enjoy. – Damiano Gerli