I actually started playing Dave the Diver before Starfield came out, but Starfield obviously distracted me. When I spent time in a waiting room or with my wife’s head laying on me, then I’d grab my Steam Deck and play some Dave the Diver. Once I finished Starfield, Moss Book 2 and then Arizona Sunshine 2, I finally committed to finishing up with Dave.
Simple Start Before Diving into the Depths of the Game
Like many other players, I bought Dave the Diver after hearing all the rave reviews. When I first saw it, the simple graphics and gameplay didn’t really appeal to me. Once I heard how weird and wonderful it was, I jumped in. The simple graphics were very apparent, but the lack of voices turned me off a bit.
Conversations were all text other than a sound effect like “ha” or “oooh” here and there. It’s classic Nintendo Switch type conversations, which I’m not a fan of. With all the excellent voice work in games today, it still shocks me when there’s zero voicework in a modern game.
After the 40 plus hours I played though, those sound effects in place of peoples voices grew on me. They have a weird sort of charm. A similar situation happened with the actual gameplay. Diving movement was great from the start, but using the harpoon gun was weird.
I had to hold the A button on my Steam Deck, then aim with the joystick before letting go. It’s odd, because I’m used to just pressing a button to fire instead of the hold, aim and let go routine. It took a lot of practice, but I still don’t love it and still missed a few shots towards the end.
Despite those minor gripes early on, I really started to enjoy it as the Sushi restaurant gameplay heated up.
Managing Bancho’s Sushi Restaurant
Diving in the game is fun and justifies the game’s title, but the strange draw of the game was managing Bancho’s sushi restaurant. This is where the weirdness of the game really started to hook me. After my introduction to the crazy sushi cook, Bancho. I learned my responsibilities at the restaurant.
This is where Dave the Diver really started to show it’s not just a shallow experience. I had to manage ingredients, research new menu items, customize the interior and choose items to add to the menu. After all that actually fun work, I opened up for business.
In those humble beginnings, it was Bancho cooking dishes, then me, controlling Dave, doing the rest. I had to hurry out orders to customers and sometimes fill up their green tea drinks. The latter was a fun mini game of trying to quickly fill to the line, but not overflow.
As I progressed, I also would have to clean spots on the tables or refill the wasabi. They amounted to repeating simple button presses, but seeing the progress was actually fun back then. The quality, variety and amount of fish I caught helped make more money for upgrades later.
Dave the Diver Parties, VIPs and Cooking Challenges
There were often VIPs or party events that would give me an opportunity to find ingredients for unique dishes. I took full advantage of those events to make a ton of extra bonus money to buy important upgrades. Sometimes the VIPs would also provide a new unique ingredient or a new layer of gameplay.
Cooking challenges showed up a couple times in game and were a step above the VIP/party events. Gathering the ingredients was similar, but on the day of the challenge, I took over the cooking. It was a fun set of mini games that represented the different parts of the meal prep. I actually loved them.
Rewards were always great, but at one point my cooking challenge win earned me a new branch. I was able to setup a whole other sushi restaurant. It required me to select a manager and staff to run it. They’d take care of everything, but I had to ensure their supply of ingredients and instruct their menu goal (taste vs price).
Opening the new sushi branch location was yet another “what is this game?” moment.
Dave the Diver Phone Apps and Upgrades
The Phone in the game serves as both a menu and easy access to upgrades. It’s a great idea since everyone is familiar with smartphones now. I like it a lot better than a typical text or button based menu.
My spear gun could tackle most smaller fish, but once I ran into sharks and eels, I needed some firepower. As if the game read my mind, it was around that time it introduced Duff, the weapons specialist. He was quite the character and set me up with the phone app to order new weapons and eventually upgrades.
I started out with a simple underwater rifle, but quickly moved on to sniper rifles, triple/quad shooters and grenade launchers. Once I unlocked the grenade launcher, that was my go to. I upgraded the already awesome damage and eventually could kill sharks in just a few blasts. That was especially important when I started diving at night.
There were about 6 or so different gun types, but the upgrades available were deep. There’s high damage sure, but then elemental damage like ice, electricity, poison and fire. My grenade upgrades levels went so deep that I’ve almost unlocked the “Black Hole” launcher. I can only imagine what the other gun paths lead to.
Less violent options like net guns and tranquilizer guns were available, but not my jam. They ensure the catch is higher quality, but I opted for the big gun for big surprises. The various giant bosses almost demanded it. I mean the giant hermit crab with a upside down dump trunk on it’s back that I fought was not fitting in a net.
Oxygen is life in Dave the Diver. Early on it was in such short supply, but the introduction of the iDiver phone app solved the problem for me. Upgrading my oxygen tank capacity their led to longer dives and basically more HP for fights with aggressive fish.
Before I knew it, upgrades became a balancing act, but a satisfying one. The longer dives led to deeper dives that my diving suit was not suitable for. That led to buying suit upgrades to go deeper. As depth increased, so did the difficulty of catching fish
That’s where I started upgrading my spear gun. Even then, some tougher fish required tapping certain button combos to catch them. It’s a nice mechanic that made me feel accomplished for capturing those tougher fish. Bigger fish were a problem though.
When I killed a shark, cutting them up into smaller pieces cost a ton of inventory weight. Extra weight cost oxygen and there was a hard limit eventually. I upgraded my cargo capacity plenty, but that was not enough. Dave the Diver solved that problem for me by opening up the cargo drone.
The cargo drone allowed me to tag the shark for pickup and it would bring a net to fetch the whole thing. Even that drone had upgrades available to increase the amount of drone pickups per dive. I loved having it fetch huge new sharks I’d find.
New stuff kept rolling out over the game and it even introduced crab traps, also upgradable. If I’m remembering correctly, the diver knife was the last thing opened up for upgrade. It was important not only for the damage, but also to be able to use it like a pick axe.
That carrot on a stick upgrade path was satisfying.
The Cooksta app opened up a social media tie in. Photos from Bancho’s Sushi were posted there and I had the option to “like” them. It was the main avenue to gain followers and then unlock upgrades to Bancho’s.
I just about maxed out the Cooksta level for Bancho’s to have 2 additional cooks, 2 servers and more. It was definitely nice to have more people running plates, so I was not stuck doing it all. Dave is a big guy and pretty slow with no much running stamina.
Dave the Diver’s FarmNow app opened up deep into the game and showed me progress of my farm. That’s right, there’s eventually a farm for rice, vegetables, peppers and more. As if that were not enough, there’s even a chick farm later to produce eggs.
It was a great place to literally farm ingredients for fancier dishes and plenty of upgrades available. Managing the farm required pulling weeds, planting seeds and watering them. If that became tedious, there’s an option to pay someone to do it for me.
The Management app help me track employees. There were options to hire employees using paper and TV adds. Once hired, I could either place them in a restaurant or opt to dispatch them to gather ingredients.
Some ingredients were available by exploring during dives, but I kept extra staff just for dispatching to make gathering ingredients easier. I had the option to train each staff member. It would increase the various stats like cooking, serving, appeal, etc..
The real important part for me is some specialties training could unlock. I loved when my servers could start serving drinks and refilling wasabi so I did not have to. When I later unlocked the ability to serve beer and then later cocktails, it was essential my staff could handle that.
I was terrible at pouring the right beer to foam ratio, so glad I was able to avoid it after not too long.
Sato setup the Marinca app as a digital card collection for all the fish I found and bosses I defeated. I didn’t pay much attention to it until after the credits. I was determined to find all the fish and right now I only have the rare ruby Seahorse left to find.
Once I get to trying the free Dredge DLC, then I’ll try to find that last one.
Dave the Diver Minigames
A few small games unlocked as the game progressed with the most notable being a virtual pet game. It’s just another fun extra addition to a already content packed game.
This app was a list of items to collect on my dives that I just sort of naturally started to pickup. I often collected the rewards for taking out invasive fish since they’d always try attacking me. Each level rewarded me with things like charms that added power ups to my stats.
I believe this was the final app to unlock for me. It served as a guide to where to find various fish and at which depth. Each week, there was also a rare fish I could catch to get the magazine cover and a ton of rewards. Got to catch them all.
There were also standard phone apps like Phone, Mail, To Do, Music, Weather and Calculator. Those all work as you’d expect and served the overall story in some points.
Dave the Diver Fish Farm
With so many things to find and do on my dives, it became a chore to keep a supply of the right fish. Dave the Diver solved this for me by introducing the fish farm. Each set of depths had an area there I could unlock and expand.
When collecting fish, their was a chance to collect roe (fish eggs). With those I could supply new fish to the farm. Once I collected enough for two of the same fish, there was a chance for them to breed more fish. This was such a great way to keep that steady supply for the restaurant while I went exploring.
This game is great at introducing problems, then giving tools like this to solve or automate them.
Various Diving Tools
Over the course of the game, new problems with no solution arise, until the game introduces a new tool. I tried a couple different methods to pick up sharp sea urchins, for example, but failed. Once the game upgraded my gloves to pick up rocks to drop on some creatures, it also solved my sea urchin problem. They were easy to pickup after that.
A Bug catcher net, gifted to me by a Sushi VIP, allowed me to start catching small creatures like seahorses. There were a few puzzles were a plasma cutter mini game helped me advance. A later similar situation came up with an ice pick.
There’s also plenty of pickups in chests underwater and available to buy in Cobra’s shop. Things like extra o2 tanks, sensor bombs, trigger bombs, sensor nets, sea scooters and more were very helpful. Extra oxygen was great for longer dives and boss fights, but the sea scooters were the most fun.
Zipping around on those was also a great tool for tougher boss fights.
When upgrading things like weapons, Dave the Diver showed off fantastic pixel art cut scenes. The are hard to describe, but they are definitely very artistic, funny and sometimes Zen. I recommend watching them all. It’s a weird highlight of the game.
Sea People in Dave the Diver
Diving and working at Bancho’s Sushi was the main game loop, but the overall story was about the Sea People. Things started off with merely finding evidence of their existence. It was not too long before actually meeting some, figuring out a translator and helping them back to their city.
The intro to the sea people was an interesting twist to the game, but seeing their city for the first time was crazy. It was one of the bigger, “what is this game?”, type moment. I found myself completing missions for them to earn their currency.
It was not too long after that I was swept up in crazy seahorse races, using the Beluga wale taxi around the city and gambling at their casino. Dave the Diver is just layers upon layers of fun and crazy. I’d like to know what drugs the designers were on for some of the game ideas.
In between the main missions, there are a lot of weird side or supporting missions for the main story. I remember sneaking into a secret base in one. I ran away from pirates in a speed boat in another. There’s even a rhythm game in a concert dream shoehorned in there.
I didn’t even mention the cat mission, I now have multiple cats at Bancho’s. Pets, not food. My work with the sea people led me to an almost frozen area and later, a thermal vent area. Both had their own set of new fish and other creatures to discover.
Once I had helped solve all the sea people’s big problems, the game treated me to a great ending/epilogue with all the friend I made along the way.
What’s Next for Dave the Diver?
The weird space minigame during the credits has me wondering if there’s a Dave in Space planned for the future. What I do know is there’s a free Dredge crossover DLC, so I’ll play that game for context before starting that DLC.
With the huge success of the game I hope and almost expect future Dave the Diver DLC is in the cards. I’m 100% on board with what’s next. I look forward to taking another dive.