Underwater games don’t have to be just slow and tedious. The adventure RPG Dave the Diver proves the opposite combining the colorful beauty of the ocean with exciting challenges – and sushi. Find out why this retro indie game builds up such an attractive pull in our review.
At first glance, the indie title from MintRocket looks like one of many regular 2D pixel games. But it’s worth looking under the surface… But don’t forget your flippers.
Dave is a busy man
Granted, Dave isn’t in top form, but a call from his friend Bancho is enough to get him back on the scene as a passionate diver. The next moment we find ourselves in his shoes on a boat and plunge straight into a tremendous underwater adventure.
But in Dave The Diver, we are not only under the surface. In the game, we also run a sushi bar with our friends near the mysterious Blue Hole, a body of water that changes its flora and fauna daily.
Dave the Diver isn’t just about diving
The gameplay in Dave the Diver is composed of two types. At night we run the sushi restaurant, and during the day, we plunge into the salty waters to get fresh products for preparation. Diving is the most significant part of the game, but let’s face it, it’s also the most fun and exciting. Because underwater, a breathtaking pixelated procedurally generated world full of sea creatures opens up for us to chase after.
Most of the fish can be killed with every Diver’s faithful friend, the harpoon. If we hold down the right mouse button (or “A” on a gamepad), we activate slow motion, and a cone shows us where to aim to be one sushi ingredient richer. Smaller caliber fish like clownfish or a blue tang is usually caught immediately, whereas larger variants like puffer fish or carp need a few more pushes and can trigger a mini-game where we must press buttons like crazy.
Venture into deeper layers of the ocean
That’s it? Not at all! It doesn’t take long, and we penetrate the deep dark sea. Here we can expect much larger and more aggressive sea creatures, which do not hesitate to attack brave Dave. We quickly learn that dodging is imperative to maintain our oxygen level, which is also our health. Our harpoon could do better in the fight against sharks too. More potent underwater weapons like sniper rifles, shotguns, and even grenade launchers come in handy… Lucky us!
If we don’t want to see our high-quality meat burst into flames, we can gently use net and stun guns to capture our marine ingredients. Unlike many other underwater games, the weapons in Dave the Diver are exceptionally versatile.
The sushi bar is less dangerous but no less challenging
After one or two dives, it is evening, and we help out in the sushi restaurant. Here we are active in the service. We take drink orders, serve dishes, and clear plates. In a hurry, we have to serve miso soups in the right quantities and quickly realize that we are completely overloaded and need new staff to serve the growing number of guests.
New employees make our work easier but also reduce the profit. But as soon as we improve our dishes, catch higher quality fish, and gain attention in social media, the money will start flowing in.
Upgrade your equipment
With the money, we unlock necessary equipment upgrades that benefit our dive in the Blue Hole. Oxygen tanks grant us longer air underwater, and wetsuits allow us to go deeper into the ocean. We can also temporarily hoard supplies in a storage crate to hunt more at once. The upgrades turn out incredibly coherent and arm us more and more for the adventures. And we absolutely need this equipment.
The roguelike elements are quite challenging
As impressive as the world below the surface is, it can also be exhausting. The game’s roguelike character is evident in the constant changing of the world. Every contact with a fish costs us oxygen, our weapons behave quite sluggishly, and we can only use many pieces of equipment for a limited time… But don’t worry; your quest items stay in any case.
Take a break if you want
When we aren’t really in the mood to catch fish, we can take a break by playing several weird mini-games, growing plants on the farm, or even breeding fish. Or… Enjoy the ocean’s beauty and take photos of unique creatures in certain places, like turtles.
The game knows how to keep you busy
In addition to the upgrades, Dave the Diver has an unbelievable variety of unlockable mechanics and abilities that are added repeatedly to benefit our ambitious underwater friend, be it simply equipment with which you can pick up sea urchins. These constant surprises ensure we never get too used to the gameplay.
Also, the game always surprises us with new missions. In the hours we played, not a single day went by when we only spent all our time acquiring sushi supplies. We constantly received special orders from people and friends, such as preparing a particular dish or receiving checklists for collecting certain sea creatures.
Versatile and colorful characters
Around the sushi restaurant, we interact with many quirky characters that are no less colorful than the game itself. You can look forward to unique people like the strange weapons expert who goes to bed with an anime body pillow or the eccentric chef who wants to make the perfect sushi with the help of samurai martial arts.
Our verdict on Dave the Diver
Dave the Diver doesn’t get boring, apart from a section in the middle of the game where there were no fish to catch, and completing the mission could have been faster. The indie RPG provides a gripping mix of challenging restaurant simulation and deep-sea diving. It keeps you on your toes with its procedurally generated roguelike world, countless missions and comes with a rich and charming pixel style. The bosses could be a little more demanding here and there, and the puzzles too – but at this price point still totally worth the money.
The game left Early Access on June 27 and is now available for macOS and PC via Steam. You can still get the game with a 10% discount until July 13. Don’t miss it: if you did, you can still get it cheaper via Kinguin (affiliate link).
More exciting RPG titles at your disposal
You’ve sold too much sushi and accumulated enough money? Then now is a great time to take on new RPG challenges. Jump into the adventures of Baldur’s Gate 3 and look forward to the big release in August.
If you’re looking for new free-to-play titles, check out our Best Free RPG Games ranking.
How do you like the combination of rpg and simulation in Dave the Diver? Does the game concept appeal to you? Leave a comment below.