The crazy life of a diver working in a sushi bar: Dave The Diver review - an adventure game you will love

By: Vladyslav Nuzhnov | 26.07.2023, 09:00

Dave the Diver is a pixelated adventure game by the Korean studio MINTROCKET that tells the story of a carefree and sometimes naive diver Dave, who has to perform several important tasks at once. Have you ever seen a game where the protagonist works as a diver and fishes during the day, works in an exotic sushi bar at night, and explores a mysterious marine civilisation in between? This is what attracts people to Dave the Diver in the first place - uniqueness. At the same time, the feeling of uniqueness is enhanced by the visual design, which sometimes resembles a crazy anime. You can't stop looking at the scenes that the game presents and the constantly changing gameplay. During the first hours of the game, you swim around, catching different fish, delivering sushi to customers and trying to understand the mechanics of the game. Later on, the game turns into a casual simulator where you spend time with friends, run your farm, spend time on your gaming smartphone, scrolling through posts, participate in various activities, and do everything a diver can do in a mysterious area.

Of course, such games are not for everyone, but only for gamers who prefer meditative gameplay and pixelated graphics. But in order to understand how many people are ready for this kind of gaming experience, it is worth noting that in less than a month since its release, the game has sold over a million copies. And if you missed Dave the Diver but are interested in it, the editorial team of gg  will tell you about all the main points of the game that you need to know before buying.

5 reasons to buy Dave the Diver

  • Unique gaming experience where you have to be a diver, a sushi bar worker and an explorer of a mysterious civilisation
  • Gameplay that allows you to relax and just enjoy the game
  • Various game mechanics: from catching fish to fighting eco-activists
  • You haven't been on holiday for a long time and want to swim at least in the game
  • You want to open your own restaurant or at least a sushi delivery business and need a powerful push

3 reasons not to buy Dave the Diver

  • You are allergic to fish and are aquaphobic in general
  • You don't like games, you don't like games where you have to read all the dialogues
  • You just can't stand games without realistic graphics

Fast forward

  1. What underwater depths did this current take us to?
  2. And how do you play it?
  3. What's up with the optimisation, visuals and audio?
  4. What didn't you like?
  5. Five things you need to know about Dave the Diver

What underwater depths has this current taken us to?

The game starts with a scene where Dave is relaxing on the beach, and it seems that everything in his life is quiet and calm. But suddenly he receives a call from his business friend Cobra, who tells him about an attractive business offer that Dave cannot refuse. And so our protagonist boards a plane and heads to a quiet place somewhere in Asia, where Cobra has opened an exotic sushi bar by the sea, surrounded by mountains.

So what's in it for Dave? For two things: to dive into the sea and catch fish for the bar, and to work as a waiter at night in the same bar. But Cobra doesn't say this directly, and naive Dave thinks that he will eat endless amounts of sushi and now his life has become even better than before.

Cobra calls Dave to tell him about his business

After a short training, we are taken to Cobra's sushi bar called Bancho Sushi, and the head chef is Bancho, who is a chef who is reminiscent of Tyler Durden from Fight Club in his confidence and personality. Only instead of soap, he makes sushi. Buncho says that sushi symbolises Mother Nature herself, and every night we will come with our catch, create a menu from the fish we have, and serve our guests.

Buncho is a professional in his field. The game will even feature a 10-minute visual novel that will tell his story.

And it would seem that the story is set - here's a simulator where you are a diver by day and a waiter by night. Such a concept would have found its audience, but MINTROCKET went further and added a third main element to the story, which at the end supersedes the others - a mysterious underwater civilisation that no one has seen, but everyone wants to find.

After a few days of play, we meet the cheerful Dr Bacon, who tells us that there must be something more than just fish in these waters. Dave goes in search of it and finds a blocked entrance with mysterious symbols. Later, we manage to get in and see a mysterious room with a mural of a man with a crown on his head and a mermaid's tail. Now Dave and his new friends realise that these are no longer fables, that such a civilisation must exist, but how do they establish contact with them? Everything that happens next is spoilers, but it's amazing how well this story is integrated into the game. It doesn't feel like a fifth wheel, but is fully functional and makes you stay in the game to solve all the puzzles and put everything in its place. Dave in this story seems to be caught in a storm of different events that are constantly evolving and offering something new. The plot is, if not impressive, at least interesting. Do you want to know why it all came about, how civilisation was skilfully hidden from the human eye, and how far the story of the sushi bar will go? And at the same time, there is a small storyline about environmental activists who are not what they might seem at first. And all of this is not a mishmash of ideas from the developers, but a big roll, where each ingredient is important and complements the other.

The mural that Dave found. After that, the most interesting part of the game's plot begins

A set of interesting and colourful characters

There are more than enough characters here. Some appear only a few times and have no significant impact on the story, while others will help from the beginning to the end credits and will be remembered for a long time. But the important thing is that each character has a clearly defined character and can be described. This makes the world of the game feel more alive when you are surrounded by people with different histories and behaviours.

The Cobra, whom we first meet in our adventure, is a cheerful businessman who cares only about money. He is ready to take risks, not specify the details of a deal, but will always help his friends.

Description of Cobra and his quote: "This could be a great business opportunity."

The already mentioned Bancho, with his energy, charges the hero with confidence, courage and is always ready to share an interesting thought. It is really interesting to watch such a character.

Description of Cobra and his quote: "Making sushi is an art form."

Dr Bacon always comes to us with a sparkle in his eye, and his adventurousness only fuels the desire to explore everything mysterious.

Bacon's description and quote: "This could be the find of the century."

We will also be in constant touch with Duff, a nerd who never leaves his house and collects anime figures, but is also a great gunslinger. It is he who will create Dave's arsenal for killing fish and more. And who hasn't had a friend who, at first glance, is a hikika (a Japanese term for people who refuse to live a social life - editorial note), but is actually smart and knows something that few people understand?

Duff's description and quote: "Even at this moment, Lea-Chan is waiting for me"

There is also a journalist Udo, who is as excited about taking a photo of a rare fish for his magazine as I am when my post gets tens of thousands of views :-) We can also mention Otto, the farmer who helps Dave with the farm so that both parties can earn as much as possible. There is also a depressed girl Sato, who becomes a member of the team after our help. And what's life without cats? There is a black-haired Momo in the bar, with whom you can also interact. All in all, there are a little more than ten characters, and that's enough for a 20-hour adventure.

Dave and his friends at the bar

The ever-changing world of the game

The place where Dave is constantly diving is called the Blue Hole. When Cobra found it, he realised that every time you dive into a hole, its terrain and ecology change. That is why he decided to open a business here, because there is no other place like it on Earth.

Usually, locations that are constantly changing are added to rogue-like. For example, in Hades , after each death, the rooms of the underworld of Hades change their order so that the player does not go through the same place for many hours. Dave the Diver is not absolutely rogue-like, except that if you die in the water, you can take only one item to the surface, but this also makes the game not boring, because when you dive into it again, you do it as if for the first time, because you cannot be sure what awaits you behind certain underwater rocks today.

In the Blue Hole, you can even meet a whale by chance

The Blue Hole itself feels quite alive. You may find yourself exploring the waters and meet pirates who want to kill dolphins, and you need to protect them. Some fish species swim in schools, and some prefer to be alone. There are fish that don't touch you, and there are sharks and other predators that will be interested in you. In addition to fish, there are all kinds of shrimps, seahorses, algae, starfish, jellyfish, octopuses, and others. There are also mysterious and giant creatures that seem to add even more fantasy to the game, but who can be sure that such things really don't exist in the real world? The only thing I would like to see is that the fish hunt each other, because in 18 hours of playthrough, I never saw a shark chasing its dinner. But in general, the Blue Hole is made cool.

Diving into the water, Dave notices pirates who want to kill two dolphins

There is also something going on in the sushi bar. The famous director Michael Bang, who is a parody of Michael Bay, who gave the world the Transformers films, can come to us and ask us to prepare an exotic dish especially for him. Therefore, the work in the bar is definitely not the same.

Michael Beng enjoys the dish prepared by Bancho

How to play it?

The gameplay is so diverse that some AAA projects may envy it. In addition to the two main tasks: exploring the Blue Hole and managing a sushi bar, there are many additional mechanics that are implemented through Dave's gaming smartphone. There's an analogue of Instagram, your own farm, mini-games, email, various events, contacts, a shop and much more, which further distinguishes the game from other summer releases, but we'll talk about everything in sequence.

Explore the blue waters until the air in your tank runs out

80% of the time you'll have to spend in the water and engage in various activities. The first and most important is to collect fish. To do this, we have a harpoon that can safely catch small fish. For bigger targets, Duff will provide us with a small arms weapon that can even kill a shark. Sometimes we will be asked to bring the prey alive. There are tranquillisers for this, and if the target is too small, like shrimp, there is a net. There is also a knife to slaughter the fish if it is too close to us. But it's not all about fish. We can collect various treasures and other items that we can sell to Cobra and get money for it or spend on improving our equipment, because to be in the water you need a good suit and large air tanks. The first few times in the water, you won't last more than a few minutes, although there are cylinders scattered in the hole that can be used, but you still have to find them. And if you swim too deep and have almost no oxygen supply, there will be special places scattered around the area where you can call a rescue capsule, and you will be instantly returned to the boat to recuperate. In general, there is always something to do in the water, but let you find out the rest of the secrets of the Blue Hole yourself. The main thing here is to understand the main aspects of the game, and now you've been collecting fish for more than 10 minutes, trying to kill a bowhead shark, save dolphins, take exclusive photos for Udo and find as many treasures as possible, and just enjoy the underwater atmosphere of Dave the Diver.

Official game art that shows the mystery and uniqueness of the Blue Hole

Sushi bar is a great opportunity to take tourists' money (and feed them)

During one game day, we can dive into the water twice, and when night falls, we need to go to Bancho Sushi and get ready to receive guests. The first task is to create a menu from the fish we caught. After that, people start running to the bar to be served. As soon as someone makes an order, Bancho starts cooking it, and we have to take it away. Guests won't wait long, so we have to do everything quickly. As soon as the night is over, we are shown our statistics and how much money we have earned. This is the basis of running a sushi bar, but there are a few more nuances.

Statistics shown after each night shift

We can hire staff: two people to be waiters and two more to help Bancho in the kitchen. You can hire them by running an advert on the internet, on TV, or by handing out leaflets. All these processes are automatic, and in a day we will be offered people to hire. We need to do this as soon as possible, because very soon Dave and Bancho will not be able to cope with such a flow of guests. To make the bar work even better, workers can be sent to courses where their performance will improve and they will do their job even faster. After all, at the final stage of the passage, the flow of people is so frantic that even with fully trained staff, it becomes difficult for months.

Our staff that helps you make more money

In addition to serving sushi, customers will ask for drinks, and if you do everything right, you will get a tip. You also have to wipe the tables after the guests, and you'll get paid extra for that. But you have to keep in mind that Dave runs out of energy very quickly, so you can't run back and forth like the Flash, and you have to stop for 2-3 seconds to take a break and continue serving customers to earn as much money as possible. By the way, the type of sushi also affects the profit. If they are made of fish that swim at a depth of 5 metres, they will pay a maximum of 10 coins for it, but the price tag for a shark can already exceed 300 coins, so you should try to catch more and more exotic fish every time.

By the end of the game, almost every night, there will be so many guests that you simply do not know how to serve them all

Also, the interior of a sushi bar can always be improved: buy new chairs, replace speakers, add more decor, put another table, and so on. This does not affect the profit and will not improve the statistics, but it works well as an additional option to update the design of the establishment.

Bar customisation menu

Dozens of different activities

To prevent players from getting bored with Dave the Diver, the developers have added activities to expand the gameplay and make it more interesting.

  • Weapon shop - if you collect certain parts and money, Duff is always ready to make new weapons and offer various improvements. For example, if you collect jellyfish matsaki, you will get a weapon that can electrify fish and other enemies, which will speed up their death and save us ammo.
Duff's shop specialising in weapons
  • iDiver - another shop where we can improve our suit to dive deeper, increase our oxygen supply and inventory to fit more fish, upgrade our harpoon and knife to catch fish better.
The shop where Dave improves his diving equipment
  • Cooksta is an analogue of real Instagram, where bar visitors and our friends post photos and talk about our establishment. If a lot of people post about Sushi Bunch, our rating will increase, which will open up new recipes and expand the opportunities for our staff.
A gaming analogue of Instagram
  • Mini-games - we play as a fictional anime character who is a fan of Duff, and we have to run away from him. There are also storyline mini-games, like Duff's concert; cooking as Bancho; or a mission where we have to sneak around an enemy base like in a stealth game.
One of the mini-games available on our gaming smartphone
  • Album - a place where we show all the fish we have caught.
The Marinca game app shows the creatures we have caught and how deep they live. The latter is very helpful when you need to catch them again
  • Farm - a place where Otto helps grow rice, carrots, eggs and other products that go to the kitchen to make sushi.
Otto's farm, where in addition to growing rice, you can raise chickens
  • Special events - for example, we receive an email that in 3 days there will be a shark festival. During this time, you need to catch as many sharks as possible and then serve them to guests, which will bring 2-3 times more profit than on normal days.
If you complete the special events that come to the mail, you can earn at least 5 thousand coins in one evening

And this is not the whole list of what MINTROCKET has prepared for you. But, in addition to a dozen activities, the developers have made one important detail - the game does not "stifle". You can spend as much time in the water as you want. If you didn't have time to catch fish, the menu always has the cheapest sushi that doesn't require ingredients; you have 3 game days to complete special tasks, and if you can't complete them even during this time, you get an extra day. The game does not require you to constantly level up. Of course, it will be easier with it, but I went through the final part of the game with standard weapons and did not experience any problems. So, if you need a meditative game that doesn't require a lot from you, this is the option for you. Dave the Diver seems to have been created so that you can spend a few hours in the evening and relax without worrying about real problems.

Additional quests that give useful things and help you complete the game's plot

There are two types of additional tasks here: interesting and not so interesting. The latter are the eternal classics of video games: bring this, collect that, and so on. You don't always want to do them, but at least here you get a good reward for completing such a task. If you collect certain ingredients and prepare a dish for Otto, the player will open a farm, which helps a lot in the development of the bar, and so on.

But there are also interesting quests. For example, you need to find a thing that is lost somewhere in the water, and it is guarded by a shark, and then the battle with the boss begins. Or you hear a strange sound, find a small whale, and you need to protect it and help it swim to its mother, while shooting off predators. Usually, after completing such a quest, you are given items, some of which you can sell and some of which you can spend on upgrading your character.

It is worth noting that without completing some additional quests, you will not be able to complete the main ones. In one of the missions, you had to catch seahorses with a net, but to get it, you had to complete an additional quest so that the character would give it to you. But there are not many additional tasks, so I recommend completing all of them if possible, because they provide useful resources, items, and allow you to earn good money.

An additional quest where Dave needs to help a little whale and his mother reunite

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What about optimisation, visuals, and audio?

Another advantage of Dave the Diver is that any PC is suitable for completing it. The minimum requirements are an Intel Core i3 processor and an NVIDIA Geforce GTS 450 graphics card, so if you want to play the newest game but feel sick of the modern system requirements that require an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card and 100 GB of free SSD space, Dave the Diver is ready to save you. Also, during 20 hours of playthrough, I did not encounter a single bug, and the game never crashed, so MINTROCKET did everything possible for a comfortable passage.

Nice and at the same time furious 8-bit visuals

Good optimisation was achieved thanks to 8-bit graphics and even after you go through the latest ray tracing and other modern technologies, you like the visuals of Dave the Diver and you do not have the feeling that you are playing a game on a Dendy. This is primarily due to the landscapes and changes in weather conditions. You look at the rocks dotted with trees, and it's sunny outside, and the next day thick clouds gather over these rocks, you see lightning, hear thunder, and this changes the perception of the game world, and such swings are constantly happening here.

The weather in the game is constantly changing, which allows you to look at the usual locations differently

The Blue Hole is also coolly designed. All these fish, mysterious temples, various corals, algae, scattered objects, and mysterious creatures floating in the background make you look even more closely. But if you don't like pixelated games at all, then no amount of locations and attention to detail will save you.

The Beautiful and Dangerous Blue Hole

But what will surprise absolutely everyone is the game's scenes. If Bancho, Duff, or anyone else is making something, it is accompanied by an animated splash screen, which, although it lasts a few seconds, is so coolly designed that you want to watch it again and again. And when there's an anime song playing in the background, it's 10/10 in terms of crazy. For example, the scene when Duff makes us a weapon.

Light and calm audio

Most of the songs in the game, if they are not game scenes, are calm and meditative, which helps you to immerse yourself even more in the world of Dave the Diver and catch fish, go to the farm, communicate with the characters and be happy that there are games that can give you such emotions. Although during boss battles or when someone is chasing you, the soundtrack becomes very dynamic, which adds drive to the events on your screen. It's also a cool trick so that you don't get bored while playing, and sometimes feel the drive and action.

What didn't you like?

There are no critical flaws in the game. There's a reason why Steam Dave the Diver has 96% positive reviews, but there are some nuances that need to be mentioned.

Does Dave even need to do what he does?

Dave is lucky like no one else. Every day he dives into the ever-changing waters. He is looking for a marine civilisation, he is hunted by sharks, eco-activists, and in a day he can get his monthly salary. But there is one problem - you just don't feel Dave's passion. Reading his dialogues, you get the impression that his mum asked him to do his maths homework and he just has to do it. Although he is the only one in this world who is lucky enough to do so many interesting and dangerous tasks at the same time.

For example, Dr Bacon, to whom we tell about our travels, reacts in such a way that he is about to jump out of his pants. You can feel the adventurousness in him. Cobra also has an adventurousness when he finds another crazy way to make money. Buncho's words make you feel that his work is his life and he wouldn't trade it for anything. And Dave is like a funny little man. But it's good that he becomes more emotional at the end of the game. But compared to the other characters, he lags behind. Dave is not memorable, even though he is the main character, but Duff, with his mania for collecting anime figures and his ability to create a sea drone, I will definitely not soon forget.

Dialogues to read all the time

If you are not ready to read a lot while playing games, then you will not have a good time here. There is a lot of dialogue in Dave the Diver, and it is not voiced. And if there are only a couple of lines in the dialogue, it's fine, but when you play for 3 hours in a row and someone wants to say something to Dave as if he hadn't spoken for a year, you want to finish reading those lines as soon as possible and keep playing. But the nice thing is that only a B1 level of English is enough to understand most of the characters' phrases.

If you're not in the water, the characters are constantly talking

Lack of minimal navigation

Sometimes, when you're completing story missions, you can get lost, especially in a new area. Then you just float along and hope that you will find what you are looking for. It would be nice if the developers added the ability to display a marker on the screen if you are looking for your target for a long time. For example, Sony did this in The Last of Us, which helped a lot and you didn't waste time.

The ability to turn on navigation in TLoU II if you can't find your way around the location for a long time

Five things you need to know about Dave the Diver

  • Dave the Diver is an arcade simulator that combines the life of a diver, a bar worker, and a researcher of a mysterious civilisation.
  • The game has many game mechanics and activities that allow you to study the project for dozens of hours without getting bored
  • 8-bit graphics allow you to play the game even on a weak PC and enjoy it
  • MINTROCKET managed to create an interesting story for the game, which is enhanced by colourful characters, vivid scenes and nice visuals and a cool soundtrack
  • After completing the game, you will definitely want to go to a sushi bar and sit there with your friends
Dave the Diver
Genre Adventure, Arcade Simulator
Platforms PC, Mac
Number of players Single-player
Time to complete 16-30 hours
Release date 28 June 2023

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The editors would like to thank Evolve PR agency for kindly providing the game for review