Review – Dave the Diver

Dave the Diver Cover Image

There have been so many amazing, very large AAA games released recently like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Final Fantasy XVI, Diablo IV, Star Wars Jedi: Survivorand so many more, that I was looking for a nice, chill relaxing game in between. I stumbled upon Dave the Diver and didn’t bother looking into it past an initial scan of the game, and saw that it was getting good reviews. “This looks like a nice, relaxing, take it easy fishing game”, I thought to myself. So we reached out to the developer and received a code, this is when I realized, this isn’t just a simple diving and fishing game.

Dave the Diver is a roguelite action adventure game that features diving and fishing, as well as other elements that I wasn’t expecting. You play as Dave, a pudgy every-man who happens to be a skilled diver. He also has a business partner that has found the best diving spot in the world and is offering a deal you can’t refuse. The thing is, the diving area is a hot spot for strange activity. There has been some seismic activity lately that has opened up a rather large hole in the ocean, along with other strange occurrences. This is where the roguelite aspects come in. For the most part the main locations will remain roughly in their same spot, but the general layout and items will change each time you dive.

Dave the Diver Story

I’m not sure if we can trust Cobra, but it does seem like a good gig.

If the idea of roguelites doesn’t get you excited, let me try and ease your worries here. Dave the Diver is still very much story focused, which was a fantastic surprise for me as well. Very early on you join a sushi restaurant right on the dock of the large blue hole. The fish you bring back during your diving is what you feed in the restaurant that night. As the manager of the place it is your responsibility to create the menu, update the look, hire employees, and help out during busy times. It’s this entire other restaurant management aspect of the game that I didn’t expect at all, and it is an absolutely blast making it through. You’ll encounter VIP guests, special requests, and even large parties that will require you to collect specific fish for recipes. These moments are fantastic and add so much charm to the game.

The restaurant is not the only story focused aspect either. Throughout the game you will have many experiences with pirates, local environmentalists, scientists, explorers, and even touching moments with the sea life. There is also a Pokémon styled card game for collecting all the fish, a small amount of farming sim elements, and even mythological findings. I don’t want to spoil anything, but every time I played Dave the Diver it was introducing new mechanics, characters, and story paths.

Dave The Diver Michael Bang

THE Michael Bang?

Gameplay is somewhat basic, but there is still plenty of depth and variety to the mechanics. Dave has access to upgrades for his gear, for example. Upgrading your tanks allows for more air, which means longer dives and more health. When you’re attacked by a predator you’ll lose chunks of your air supply, and when you run out of air you’re brought back to the surface and can only bring one item with you. You can upgrade your suit which allows to dive into deeper waters. Upgrading your speargun allows you to do more damage which helps in capturing larger fish. Finally, you can upgrade your storage box which allows you to carry more items and fish during your dive. If you fill up, you swim slower leaving you open to predators and possibly losing your whole bag.

Besides your base gear upgrades, you have access to a hilarious weapons expert who crafts you various guns. These guns are for use against predators because they do high damage and will ruin smaller fishes meat. He also scatters lock boxes around the ocean filled with various usable items to discover on your dives. These range from bombs, other guns, portable air tanks, and thrusters to move you around quicker. You will even find new weapons as you progress which unlocks blueprints so you can craft new weapons. On top of that, each weapon also has a chance to have an elemental effect like Fire, Poison, Electricity, or even put the fish to sleep.

Boss fights offer a decent challenge and they all require different strategies.

There are so many small aspects of Dave the Diver that pop up each time you play that adds to the overall variety of the dives and keeps it fresh. It’s hard to put all of them in this review, so I’ll let you discover these on your own. Just understand that the depth of this gameplay is vast, and it hardly ever lets up with offering you new things. I could go on and on about the things that impressed me, but I honestly wouldn’t want to ruin them. If there is one thing I will complain about with the gameplay, is that sometimes it can be a bit cumbersome when fighting. You can’t aim a full 360º around Dave, so instead he will only aim the direction you are currently facing and in a small 120º angle.

Visually, Dave the Diver offers a striking pixel art design that is somehow simple and yet extremely detailed, enough to perfectly balance visual identities of even the smallest of fish. The small details in this game are fantastic, and it offers plenty of unique areas and designs so it doesn’t become stale. One of my favorite aspects of Dave the Diver are the character cutscene animations. They’re amazingly done. For example, when you have your chef or weapons guy create something new, it shows an amazing animated cutscene of them working. There are other instances with VIP guests and such that also had me cracking up frequently.

These cutscenes are all amazing and hilarious.

Unlike the visual design, the sound design is a bit more basic. There is no voice acting, just some weird guffaws and noises the characters make for various reactions. Some of these are hit or miss, but it works well enough. However, the general ambiance of the dives are fantastic, creating a light mood that really encourages the exploration. That is until you start getting into the darker depths and around danger. The dark depths features a more quiet, yet eerie sound that fits the atmosphere perfectly. The music doesn’t hit hard, but it works when it needs to during certain scenes.

Dave the Diver, needless to say, was an absolutely delightful surprise that I would recommend to just about anyone. It offers so much variety in gameplay ideas that there is something here for everyone. I’d love to express everything I absolute loved about the game, but what impressed me so much was not knowing all the things this game offered, and I wouldn’t want to strip you of that. This may have not been the mindless fishing exploration game I was expecting, but it became so much more than I even initially wanted. I highly encourage you to dive into Dave the Diver and explore everything this indie gem has to offer.


Graphics: 9.0

A beautiful pixel art design with plenty of variety that ranges from tropical waters to the frozen depths.

Gameplay: 8.5

While simple in design and mechanics, there is a ton of depth here, from the fishing to running the sushi restaurant.

Sound: 8.5

Sounds design is a bit simplistic with its sound effects, but the general ambience and music is great.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Dave the Diver surprised me at every turn with its constant stream of new gameplay ideas and hilarious characters.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Dave the Diver is available now on PC.

Reviewed with i7-9700k, RTX 2070, 16GB RAM.

A copy of Dave the Diver was provided by the publisher.