Dave The Diver Impressions: Hungry For More

Even just looking at the images for this article makes me want to stop writing and pick up Dave The Diver again. The game is that irresistible. Gleaming pixel art paired with fluid 3D environments, a two-part loop with one half feeding deliciously into the other, and an absurdly colorful cast make for an unmissable indie adventure.

Warm sand, rolling waves, and a cool beverage accompanied by the relaxing sounds of a ukulele set the stage for Dave’s spectacular vacation. But it’s cut short too soon. With promises of endless, mouth-watering sushi, the hero of our story is lured to The Blue Hole to begin his career as a spearfisherman/restaurateur.

What makes this locale so enticing is its mysterious ability to transform every time someone dives into it. That’s the in-game reason for the procedurally generated underwater levels, anyway. In the first half of the gameplay loop, my job is to explore this unique, watery roguelike and catching as many fish and resources as possible. It’s wonderful to progress from one small oxygen tank — which works as your health and stamina simultaneously — making short trips that barely skim the ocean’s surface to equipment that lets me go farther and farther down.

I rapidly enhance my gear — including weapons to deal damage or capture more valuable unharmed fish, a suit that withstands increasingly intense pressure levels and enables me to carry heavier loads back up to the surface. Connected with these upgrades are a series of fantastic characters.

The stereotypical neckbeard/ weapon smith, the shady archeologist, and my manager, Cobra, are all bursting with personality that makes them great to interact with even when they’re screwing me over. I’m especially fond of the special, and brilliantly self-serious, cutscenes some characters get when I choose to use their services.

The flood of characters and opportunities get introduced at a quick pace near the beginning, making it a lot to digest as I’m starting out. However, I don’t have to engage with everything immediately. I have the option to pursue different objectives at my own pace, which keeps everything from getting overwhelming.

While I enjoy all the characters aiding in my aquatic missions, my favorite NPC is without a doubt the supremely dedicated, humorously disciplined Bancho. My partner in the second half of the gameplay loop — the restaurant management sim — the head sushi chef doesn’t just prepare meals, he lovingly manifests each bite though sheer will. When I capture enough ingredients to enhance a dish on my menu, I eagerly watch Bancho’s intense cutscenes which feature everything from moonlit mountaintops to intimate plating montages. I don’t know if the phrase chef’s kiss has ever been more well earned.

Running a successful restaurant largely rests on how well my earlier fishing trips went. If I ran out of oxygen without securing a catch, I won’t have anything to serve. That also means no money for upgrading my gear, creating a vital and engaging connection between both parts of the game. Revenue also hinges on my abilities as a server. I drop off plates, pour drinks, craft menus, decorate, hire staff, and more in the evenings. Though I often run into deadly situations underwater, the busy rush in the sushi bar is equally adrenaline-pumping.

That Dave the Diver manages to make running a restaurant as thrilling as fighting for my life under the sea is an impressive feat. I’m about five hours into the game, which can take about twenty-five hours to finish, but it’s already in my top ten for the year.

2 responses to “Dave The Diver Impressions: Hungry For More”

  1. […] easy to miss out on wonderful goodies amidst the feast. So, while you gorge on recent indies like Dave the Diver, take a moment to look over this menu of upcoming […]

  2. […] of one of their games. Over the past few days, multiple Steam accounts invaded the comments of Dave the Diver reviews and others promoting unaffiliated indie games. One is gangster sim Don Duality, and the […]

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