Developed and published by MINTROCKET, DAVE THE DIVER is a casual, solo-focused RPG where you will dive into the ocean during the daytime to fish and run your very own sushi bar during the night using the ingredients that you collect during the day. DAVE THE DIVER started its journey back in October 2022 as an Early Access title and since then, MINTROCKET has been working on expanding the game and adding new content to the game. Now finally, DAVE THE DIVER has arrived in its full release, and we got to play this highly addictive game in its best form to date. This is our review of DAVE THE DIVER on PC in which we cut open some sharks and serve their heads at a sushi bar.
DAVE THE DIVER is a unique blend of casual, adventure games where you will spend your days exploring the beautiful ocean called the Blue Hole and during the night, you will manage your very own sushi restaurant. During your dives, you will need to find and fish some of the rarest aquatic animals that you can find in the depths and bring them back to use them as ingredients for your restaurant. The Blue Hole is a vast place, and it hides many sinister secrets as well so your only goal in the game is not just to collect fish for their meat but also explore the Blue Hole’s depths and uncover its biggest mysteries. The daytime gives you two windows during which you must dive into the ocean, collect fish meat, complete quests, and then head back to your restaurant during the nighttime to serve sushi and other exquisite seafood cuisine to your customers.
When you start the game, you are a basic diver with basic equipment and your restaurant is also pretty basic. As you start investing more time into the game, you can find rare fish species and serve them at your restaurant for big bucks which will allow you to better equip yourself for deep sea dives and turn your basic restaurant into an exotic sushi restaurant. Both of your jobs are interlinked with each other, and you will need a good balance between the two to ensure that you are progressing in the right direction. While diving in the ocean, you will need to watch out for your oxygen supply and make sure to remain within the allowed weight limit while you are collecting things down there.
Apart from using your harpoon and guns to collect fish meat, you will also find different resources at the bottom which will require space in your inventory as well. Going overboard when it comes to your weight limit will slow you down and while you are swimming underwater, you cannot afford that. Different handy pickups allow you to dive deeper as well such as oxygen canisters, oxygen refills, ammo boxes, and emergency escape pods. You can also use the money that you generate from your restaurant to purchase upgrades for yourself which will enable you to dive even deeper into the ocean. These upgrades range from upgrading your suit for more storage weight, increased oxygen supply, and a more powerful harpoon for killing even bigger fish.
Some of the bigger species will require more than your knife and harpoon and for them, you will need to use different weapons and upgrades which are also found in the ocean randomly. DAVE THE DIVER follows the roguelite formula which means that every dive in the ocean is unique. Not only is the area completely randomly generated every time, but the supplies you find, fish locations, the hazards, the bonus items, and the layout of the area are completely different on every dive. Apart from this, all the items that you collect during a dive are also limited to just that one dive. If you go back to your boat, all items that you collected previously are gone and you will need to find new ones in the next dive. This keeps every dive fresh, and you can do whatever you want without worrying about your inventory being loaded with items from the previous one. The main quest as well as the side quests that you are trying to complete are not locked to a certain dive as well. As a matter of fact, you can just completely ignore the main story of the game and keep completing the dive and restaurant cycle for as long as you want right from the start of the game.
With that said, story progression does unlock plenty of new features for you to play around with such as your very own personal phone where you get access to different apps as you progress in the story. These will unlock more advanced features for you such as crafting weapons, upgrades, and more. The restaurant needs to get a good score as well on the in-game social media platform and this is also accessible from your phone. The main story of DAVE THE DIVER also takes you across some really cool places in the game and it also unlocks new content for you as you will get to meet new NPCs and they will unlock cool new features of the game in your phone app making progression an equally important aspect of the game.
A good balance between the two is equally important for the best experience of DAVE THE DIVER. The RPG elements are not too complex and the whole gameplay and the UI are fairly easy to understand. I like the fact that DAVE THE DIVER is not too difficult and complicated in anything because that would have taken the charm out of its gameplay. It feels a little grindy at times when you have to focus on one aspect and then keep repeating it until you complete your required task, but these are very few instances if you consider the complete game. The UI feels inviting and after spending a few minutes into the game, you will completely understand how different things work despite them looking a little intimidating at the beginning.
Visually, DAVE THE DIVER is an excellent game because it combines both 2D and 3D visuals together in what the developer calls a stunning art style that features both pixelated and 3D visuals. This is evident right from the start of the game because the surfaces and the characters in the game do have a 3D look to them but at the same time, they are pixelated as well. This unique blend ends up in the game getting a really cool visual aesthetic that really goes along with the overall theme of the game. Everything from the main characters to the environment design to the aquatic animals, everything is pretty cool to look at. The animations and effects really make the game better in every aspect.
This brilliance continues to the sound design of DAVE THE DIVER as well. To complement the beautiful visual art of the game, the game features an amazing sound design as well. During the daytime, the music goes into the background with chill soundtracks as you dive into the ocean and look for fish and complete various quests and minigames. During the night, you will get to listen to the upbeat music in your restaurant as the diners chat their way into the night. The cool knife sounds from the chef as he makes sushi and other dishes for the customers and the sizzle of your own cooking makes these sections a treat to hear. The good sound design of DAVE THE DIVER ensures that you are completely immersed in the experience.
My favorite bit of DAVE THE DIVER is the random events and small quests that pop up when you begin your dive in the game. I remember during the early parts a dolphin approached me and I had to follow it to cut a net and free its partner. Small and random side quests that pop up out of nowhere are really fun and interesting in the game and there are quite a lot of such events happening in the Blue Hole. You often get a sweet reward from these extra and optional quests. During the restaurant sequences, you will get different minigames as well such as cooking dishes or enhancing them with some extra flavors. There is also a cool minigame where you can pour tea for incoming guests if they want them for some extra bucks.
It is surprising to see how much extra content DAVE THE DIVER packs in its shell of a diving-restaurant management-sim game. Small quests like these really make the world of the game feel alive and make you fall in love with it. There were a lot of times when I decided when my next dive would be a story and progress-oriented one, but I got distracted with extra things and my main quest was completely forgotten in it. DAVE THE DIVER is really addictive in this manner, and you will often completely ignore the main quest and focus on optional and side content.
I am also happy to note here that technically, DAVE THE DIVER is a really stable game. Thanks to its visual design and good optimization, the required specs of the game are not that high as well but even with that said, there are no visual or technical hiccups while playing the game. The framerates are steady and there was no freezing or any sort of stuttering during the entirety of my playthrough. The game is free from all sorts of glitches and bugs as well. While scouring the ocean depths and its many cave systems, you do not get stuck anywhere and the overall gameplay is really smooth. If you have a decent PC, you will have no trouble playing DAVE THE DIVER without any issues because the developer has done an astounding job in optimizing the game.
DAVE THE DIVER combines deep-sea diving and restaurant sim together well and delivers an experience that very few games have managed to do recently. The constant switching of pace between diving into the ocean for supplies and then spending the nights managing the restaurant keeps the perspective fresh and something to look forward to. The narrative-driven gameplay keeps you glued to the screen and the calming soundtrack keeps you in the mood throughout your gameplay session. Very few titles deliver an addictive gameplay to the level that DAVE THE DIVER offers and to my surprise, it came out of nowhere. MINTROCKET has done a stellar job and has proved that not all Early Access titles are bad and something that the developers use to leech as much money as possible and in the end, deliver a sub-standard product.
DAVE THE DIVER is an astonishingly addictive game, and the best bit is that every time you think that you have seen everything from the game, it comes out and throws something new your way to experience. The subtle mix of RPG mechanics with deep-diving and restaurant-management sim is really good and it keeps the gameplay loop fresh. While playing DAVE THE DIVER, it feels like you are in a completely new world as it has lovable characters, a fully functional social media platform, an underground environment that feels alive, and a thriving restaurant that looks really cool. DAVE THE DIVER is literally the best single-player experience for me since the beginning of this year and I am sure that you are going to love it as well. If you are looking for a casual yet highly addictive game to burn off hours of your time, and you have a PC, look no further than DAVE THE DIVER on Steam.
Final Score: 9.5/10