Dave the Diver
MSRP: $19.99 – Steam
Dave the Diver captivated me within the first few minutes of playing. After dinner I was on my PC exploring the Blue Hole with Dave and loving every second of it. Dave the Diver is an action 2D/3D mash-up that has you exploring the Blue Hole with Dave while running a seaside Sushi resturant. There’s so much more though jammed into this amazing must play game.
Dave the Diver is definitely well put together, the pixel art is striking and the game systems are considerate and have been iterated on efficaciously through the game’s early access. We don’t give any sort of numerical or percentile ranking to games, but if anything about Dave catches your eye then I would definitely say it’s worth the full price admission.
It does everything it promises and it does it well and my nights with Dave have been so comfy. Dave the Diver is so comfy that you can get lost in task after task, the few things that might bother you will be lost in the good vibes. The wholesomeness that the game brings is endearing. If you’re on the fence, get it. That’s my opinion.
The Mechanics of Diving
The various mechanics in the game flow together like two babbling brooks into a stream. There’s almost a musical symphony to how the game starts itself as Dave, his harpoon and a few fish to the blossoming unfolding of mechanic after mechanic. Each one compliments the previously unlocked mechanics allowing you to progress without having to experience fatigue.
It would be considered normal for a game to take their time to reveal the true nature of their gameplay loops, but Dave the Diver isn’t a normal game. The game throws Dave right into the water from the start and begins unlocking content immediately. You’re snagging your first few fish and then you’re collecting research samples. Then you’re working on building weapons to defend yourself so you can go deeper. The deeper you go, the fish start becoming more aggressive. Weapons match difficulty as each has a different way to help catch fish. For instance, a net gun will let you catch fish without having to harm them, giving you the most meat for the resturant.
The resturant is at the same time doing the same thing. You start with pouring tea and serving, but you quickly become more of a manager as you help drive the menu and the staff to serve the ever-increasing number of customers. The customers, who can leave feedback in the in-game social media network on your phone.
That’s all within the first hour of gameplay.
Dave Doesn’t Fatigue
Dave also isn’t shy with acknowledging that the main gameplay loop can become tedious so most new mechanics make previous ones easier. There’s a lot of mini-games that are either outright optional or rare events. An early example of this is that you’ll get a undersea cutting gun. You’ll think that cutting is a new important mechanic, but it’s actually used sparingly, a very few times in the game.
The mechanic itself though is beautiful, the way the circle flows along the cutting line, the way that it gives you short areas where you have to concentrate but then flows into a solid long section that you smoothly follow along. So satisfying and comfy. Yet, it’s not tedious because it’s not going to force you to do that every time to enter those sections.
There’s another section where a major component is getting an item to unlock a path through. As you progress, the game will give you an item so you can ignore that. The item does take one of two slots, but you only have to equip it when going into that specific section.
The game is also very kind about giving you what you need near where you need it. The sea floor is littered with power-ups that you can use to keep your adventure going if your inventory allows it. There’s also a lot of mechanics that require items, but the game doesn’t make you go very far to ever find them. Things you have to farm can be bought later on as the mechanic’s open up further to save you the time, if you so desire.
The instant teleports are also quite nice, backtracking is a frequent occurrence but the game makes sure it’s comfy.
Dave is Buttoned Up
Dave the Diver is impressively well put together and quite bug free for something that’s so expansive that it has two primary games and an assortment of mini and micro games to go along with it. The game is seamless and the only real nitpicks come down to some design decisions. The inclusion of quick time events is rather annoying on keyboard. There are times where if you’re getting too adventurous the game will fight back by having you press keys to pull the fish in.
The game doesn’t outright discourage it beyond making you mash the buttons. Upgrading your harpoon will solve that, though there’s a few instances where it’s unavoidable, like with sharks.
Weapon crafting can become a bit of a grind if you’re not working on it constantly. If you need to go back and recover 10x rope then you’ll likely have to make a few dives to get all of them. Everything you do makes Dave stronger, in a way, so it evens out in the end.
There’s a boss, a mantis shrimp, that’s rather difficult and out of nowhere. The game should probably include some kind of optional way to avoid the encounter or rebalance it a bit. I found it to be out of sync with what is overall a completely seamless game.
The map’s not all that random, which is a good thing because you can generally find where you need to be. The one thing is on the far left, the other is on the far right and everything else is down. That’s quite nice, but it’s definitely not as random as say Terraria.
Dave is just fantastic. I know that all I did was talk about the mechanics and not the story but I really don’t want to spoil anything. The delight of each of the characters unfolding in front of you with all of their charm is adoring. The game loves throwing you off the beat at every time as each character does things you’d never assume or nowhere near who you think they are.
There’s so much content jammed into such a tiny package. I’ve yet to get bored with any one single task. Dave the Diver feels like the candy store of video games and I definitely have a sweet tooth for its flavor. The characters are loveable and outrageous. It swings and hits without making you feel like it’s glued together with craft glue and no direction. There’s no cringe here unless you’re cringing with the group.
The story is the very best part because the characters are real, even if pixelated and have the coolest personalities. They’re all brave yet weak, strong but exposed and Dave is the star of the show. MintRocket’s first title has hopefully opened the doors for much more from Nexon’s subsidiary. I am subscribed and excited for more Dave and like it.
Dave the Diver is a must purchase if there’s anything at all that appeals to you in it. It’ll likely be a GOTY contender and if it receives additional DLC and updates, it will likely continue to prosper and be a fan favorite.
We received a free game key from the developer. Generative AI was not leveraged in this review for text or images.
Review Policies: This review follows Yurika Corporation’s content policy.
Video Review Addendum
We’ve updated our review with some post-game thoughts: