Dave the Diver Review — Yeah, Bouy!

Dave the Diver Review

There have been many incredible indie games over the last decade. From narrative-focused adventures like Firewatch, gameplay centric journeys like Hollow Knight, and terrific platformers like Celeste, and now Dave the Diver joins that ever-growing list. Dave the Diver is a light-hearted adventure with an addictive gameplay loop, that balances relaxing exploration with exhilarating moments of survival.

To the surprise of nobody, Dave the Diver follows the story of Dave, who is also a diver. We first meet Dave as he relaxes on a beach, before receiving a call from his friend Cobra, who is opening up a sushi restaurant and requires Dave’s impeccable diving skills to help capture the fish needed to sell at his new establishment. Dave eagerly accepts, making the trip to a huge body of water known as the Blue Hole, an incredible fishing location which contains fish from all over the world. It is here where we meet Bancho, an eccentric chef with exceptional cooking skills, and with Dave’s help, this trio begins their sushi adventure, opening up Bancho’s Sushi. Dave is an extremely likeable character, due to his innocent and friendly nature, always wanting to help out his friends and those around him. Bancho is another well-developed character, with a unique personality and intriguing backstory.

Dave the Diver’s main story has many moving parts, which include underwater sea people, a psychotic PETA knockoff wanting to destroy Dave, and a cast of loveable characters. Due to the fantastic writing, the main story is delivered well, and I was always eager to see what would happen next. Dave the Diver also contains a huge selection of side missions throughout its 25-hour adventure, as VIP visitors will visit your sushi restaurant and request specific meals, all of which have their own mini-narrative to help liven up these encounters. Bancho’s backstory is also slowly revealed throughout the adventure, and I loved learning more about our loveable chef. While Dave the Diver lacks character voiceovers, the fantastic writing helps make these voiceless characters feel truly unique and brimming with personality. I also loved the references to other video games and cartoons, with Pokémon, Metal Gear Solid, Angry Birds, Dragon Ball Z, and many more, all receiving some love. Dave the Diver never takes itself too seriously, and that light-hearted nature is beneficial to the overall experience.

Players will spend the majority of their time experiencing two different gameplay mechanics. During the day, Dave ventures underwater to catch various sea creatures before returning to his sushi restaurant to sell everything he caught at night. The Blue Hole is home to a ridiculous amount of fish, with different creatures appearing at different depths during certain weather conditions and even more aggressive fish appearing during the evening. Dave is initially equipped with a harpoon that has unlimited ammo and a melee weapon, as well as a limited amount of cargo space and an oxygen tank that doubles as your health meter; additional weapons such as a sniper rifle, fishing net, and more can also be unlocked. Each aspect of Dave’s gear can also be upgraded with the money players earn at Bancho’s Sushi, and upgrading Dave’s equipment is a necessity to progress deeper into the Blue Hole and maximise your financial gains

To collect sea life Dave must use his weapons to weaken creatures, with various tactics used to improve the amount of meat each creature yields. For example, shooting sea creatures with your gun will cause them to have less meat, while putting them to sleep with a tranquiliser dart will improve the amount of meat obtained. I keep wanting to avoid using the term ‘fish’, as Dave encounters a plethora of different creatures underwater and saying ‘fish’ does a disservice to the amount of creatures you can encounter. Dave will confront seahorses that require a small net to acquire, crabs that hide under rocks and need to be lured out, and even giant sharks that will attack Dave on sight. Yes, there are a range of extremely aggressive creatures that will attack and destroy you. Using different equipment will introduce mini-games that must be completed to successfully catch each creature. These can range from a series of correct button presses, waggling of the analog stick, or button mashing the controller, with the variety keeping the catching mechanics fresh and interesting as you explore.

Catching sea creatures is no walk in the park, and if Dave runs out of oxygen, he will lose all of his current collection, aside from one item. There is no Dark Souls-esque mechanic to get those items back. They are gone. Dave’s oxygen will decrease as he explores and takes damage from aggressive creatures. Players must manage Dave’s oxygen levels, alongside his cargo capacity, to successfully maximise each dive. While Dave the Diver can be incredibly relaxing as you explore the gorgeous underwater scenery, managing these aspects can make for some absolutely thrilling and intense moments as you summon an escape pod or rush to the surface, clinging to the remains of your oxygen supply. Catching creatures on PlayStation 5 feels great due to the effective use of the features found within the DualSense controller. The adaptive triggers deliver a satisfying response when aiming your harpoon, while the haptic feedback effectively simulates the battle between Dave and his catch.

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Dave the Diver also features boss battles, some of which are encountered throughout the main story, and others only found within side quests. These encounters are exhilarating and memorable. Whether facing off against a massive octopus, hermit crab, or great white shark, Dave the Diver never fails to provide intense encounters that require precision dodging and ammo management to become victorious. Combine all the underwater mechanics I mentioned with additional items/upgrades found during each dive, randomised underwater areas keeping each section of the depths fresh, and so much more, Dave the Diver’s underwater gameplay is addictive and satisfying.

The other major gameplay mechanic in Dave the Diver is managing Bancho’s Sushi, an extended restaurant management mini-game with a heap of aspects to consider, manage, and obsess over.  Managing your sushi restaurant effectively is key to helping upgrade Dave’s equipment, allowing you to capture rarer sea creatures and collect more ingredients during each dive. It’s an addictive gameplay loop that always rewards the player for their efforts, but will shower players with gold when they pull off an exemplary shift. At the start of each shift, you will create your menu with the ingredients you have, and each dish can be enhanced to provide more favour and cash from your customers. When the shift begins, customers will begin to flood your establishment, and at first, it is all up to Dave to fulfill their orders. As your establishment grows, Dave can hire additional staff to help cook dishes faster and deliver food to each customer, increasing your overall profit and efficiency. Each shift only takes a handful of minutes to complete, but they are hectic, enjoyable, and downright fun.

VIP guests will visit Bancho’s Sushi, with each one demanding their own unique dish, which requires rare ingredients to be gathered within a short timeframe. Each guest will provide a sufficient reward upon receiving their requested dish, which can contain additional monies, rare recipes, or items to help catch more underwater wildlife. Across your sushi management journey, your Cooksta (an Instagram knockoff) fanbase will grow, increasing your number of nightly customers while also raising the expenses required to run the restaurant. There are a lot of nuances to consider when managing your restaurant, and you can quickly see a downturn in your profit margin if you increase your Cooksta rating too quickly due to some unfairly high fees. As you progress through the story, you will gain access to additional management elements, such as a rice farm, vegetable patches, and even a fish farm, to increase your ingredient options. The number of factors to consider is ridiculous, but every aspect is gradually introduced, ensuring nothing ever feels overwhelming. These options help deepen what may look like a basic management simulator, to create fun, intuitive and addictive gameplay.

Dave the Diver also dishes out a fantastic soundtrack, with a collection of serene underwater tracks emphasising the ocean beauty, while upbeat tunes help add to the intensity of boss encounters. The soundtrack delivers a mixture of Hawaiian-like musical notes, with a variety of chiptune tracks thrown in for good measure. Each location has its own theme, and these only get better as Dave continues to explore new areas. For example, one of my favourite tracks is the theme found in the Arctic Zone, a location you don’t visit until the final few hours of the game. Dave the Diver also includes a storyline involving a rapper, with a hit song called “Hot Pepper Tuna”, and the song is as ridiculous as it is absolutely amazing. I have caught myself singing this track in my everyday life a few times now, and I may need to add this one to my Spotify playlist. The sound design is also emphasised through the DualSense controller, with unique sounds and actions blasting through the built-in speaker, helping to immerse players in their underwater escapades.

Dave the Diver’s cut scenes are delivered in a charming pixel art style, with each frame offering a delightful piece of art in its own right. I must also mention the incredible pixel art moments that occur after upgrading weapons, enhancing seafood dishes, or successfully delivering food to VIP guests. These scenes are ridiculous and very humorous. Whether watching Bancho slice and dice ingredients, while a fish screams in horror in the background, or seeing someone attempt to go Super Saiyan after eating their requested dish, these scenes are charming and memorable. Dave the Diver combines 2D-pixel art style with 3D models, helping to create a depth of field during each underwater excursion, and the gorgeous use of colour throughout the ocean makes each trip worthwhile. I will never get sick of venturing into the opening underwater reef, due to the gorgeous colours, beautiful sea life, and picturesque views. Dave the Diver is no AAA visual powerhouse, but the charming visual style is very appealing and beautiful to behold.



Dave the Diver is full of heart, with a charming lead character, and a cast of memorable characters. The gameplay loop of catching fish and then serving them to paying customers is truly addictive, and as the game constantly introduces new mechanics and abilities, nothing ever feels stale. Developer Mintrocket has introduced a plethora of gameplay mechanics, options, and side activities to enjoy, so many in fact that I feel I barely scratched the surface of what players can experience. Dave the Diver is a jack of all trades, and a master of most.

Dave the Diver has dived into my heart, leaving me happy as a clam. So, water you doing? Life’s a beach, so seas the day, and enjoy Dave the Diver; I’ll shore myself out.


  • Light-hearted and charming adventure

  • Relaxing underwater gameplay, with thrilling boss encounters

  • Memorable boss encounters

  • Addictive restaurant management

  • Satisfying gameplay loop


  • Steep service fees punish players who upgrade their Cooksta level too quickly
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