Review – Dave the Diver

Overview

Developer MintRocket
Publisher MintRocket
Genre Indie
Platforms PC (Reviewed)
Release Date June 28, 2023

Dave the Diver is an indie game that has garnered quick popularity due to its unique gameplay and over-the-top anime-esque cutscenes. The game was developed and published by MintRocket. There is a confirmed Nintendo Switch port, but it has not yet been announced when it will be released. Dave the Diver defies usual genres. It is a diving game, but has elements of tycoon or management sim games when it comes to running a sushi bar, and platformer shooters for fishing, with a harpoon and a gun for fighting pirates, along with a myriad of other threats.

Content Guide

Violence: Dave the Diver has a decent amount of violence, with blood emitted from killing fish with your harpoon and from enemies such as pirates or Dave himself when injured. There is no gore, and due to the pixel art style, blood appears unrealistic. The game does not actively encourage violence, and Dave only employs it if there is no peaceful way to resolve a situation, and even then, only acts in self-defense.

Language: There was no language present in the four to five hours I played the game. However, it is possible there is some later on in the game.

Sexual Content: While there is no notable sexual content, there are some anime-inspired characters who reveal some skin. Additionally, a character has an anime body pillow which also is fully dressed in its depiction.

Drugs/Alcohol: Many of the characters drink beer since one of the settings of the game is a sushi bar.  However, characters usually consume alcohol responsibly; there are only two instances where a character was drunk or hungover.

Positive Content: Dave the Diver promotes using all the meat from fish caught and also believes in sustainable fishing.  There are also challenges the player can do to help benefit the ecology of the Blue Hole area. Dave often states his belief that big fishing businesses are bad for the environment. Throughout the game, he takes care not to destroy the environment he explores.

Dave the Diver is currently not rated by the ESRB or PEGI.

Review

Dave the Diver follows the aptly named Dave as he helps his old friends Cobra, the ex-weapon dealer, and  Bancho, the Sushi Chef with a mysterious background. Dave is tasked with procuring unique sea creatures for Bancho’s unconventional sushi, ranging from full roasted shark heads to lionfish sushi. In addition to diving each morning and afternoon, Dave helps manage the bar and wait on customers in the evening.

Dave the Diver manages to remain fresh because the gameplay is so varied. The diving portion of the game allows players to explore the Blue Hole’s natural landscape, as well as the mysteries of a sea people race long since forgotten. Diving has roguelike elements to it;  weapons can be found along with tools that are randomized each dive, meaning that no dive will be exactly like the last. An unlocked feature later in the game is the ability to dive at night, which does lower your operating hours of the bar (and therefore your revenue). However, the fish found at night are often only able to be caught during that time, which means in some cases they can be more profitable to catch.

In addition to the diving portion of the game, there is also a sushi bar that Dave is responsible for managing. The management portion of the game has many levels to it; some of the tasks include waiting on customers, pouring drinks, and managing supplies of foodstuffs along with condiments. Another portion of the management is hiring and training employees which will aid your bar as you start to get more customers, which requires faster food preparation and faster waiting.

Two more key elements of the gameplay are the fish farm and crop farming. While I did not unlock crop farming in my four to five hours of gameplay, I did manage to unlock the fish farming element of the game. This process involves Dave fishing with his harpoon, preserving the fish body, which will sometimes have eggs that can be raised at a fish farm behind the bar. This is a useful feature if you choose to focus more on the exploration elements of the game, as the farm assures that the player has fish even if they didn’t catch any while diving.

The visual direction of the game chose to focus on pixel art characters mixed with 3D backgrounds. This combination works well as seen in games such as the Star Ocean First Departure R or Live A Live. The ingredients list has beautiful calligraphy-esque designs for the fish, which invoke a similar feeling to the art from Okami. All of the pixel art is highly detailed, as fish have a lot of depth to them, and when viewed in the Pokemon-style trading cards, the designs of the fish can be fully appreciated. All of the human sprites, including customers, were very unique and did not feel recycled at all. The food itself has a lot of details as well, and this is best seen when customers post photos of it on the social media app Cooksta.

Audio design in Dave the Diver is wonderful as well. The soundtrack consists of a variety of tracks that range from electronic music to heavy metal to tropical. All of the sound effects in the game sounded lifelike and gave further immersion in the game. Each period of diving has its own background music, so it never feels too repetitive, and despite the same song playing during the bar managing portion, it never got tiresome.

Dave the Diver is an objectively great game. If nothing else, it’s completely unique during a time where so many games are exploring similar styles. it was a breath of fresh air to have a game so against the grain of current gaming trends. The developers care deeply about the quality of their game, as there are frequent hotfixes; they also apologize anytime bugs prevent players from getting the fullest experience. The team seems committed to making Dave the Diver the best game it can be; this is best seen in the fact that in my whole play of the game, there never once was a bug encountered.

The Bottom Line

 

Dave the Diver not only offers a wholly unique experience but manages to make all of the elements fit together and were fun to play. The dialogue and humor are all cleverly written and show deep attention to detail in the game's storytelling.

 

10

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Logan Smiley

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