Monday 11 December 2023

Dave The Diver Review (Switch)

Originality is a lost art in the realm of video games. But just when you think you’ve seen it all someone will invent a game where you must evolve fruit into a watermelon. This has little to do with Dave the Diver, but if I told you this was a procedural generated rogue-like with a gear building and management element I bet you’d think you had seen it all before. But wonderfully, you haven’t. Even with all these tried and tested components Dave the Diver is actually original…enough.

Split between two main game types our hero, Dave, searches the depths of the nearby ‘Blue Hole’ by day and tends to the needs of customers at the local rundown sushi restaurant at night. The diving section see Dave catching fish for the restaurant and taking on fetch quests for items which have manged to find themselves in the deep. As the game progresses, you’ll need to continually upgrade your gear to reach lower depths, breath for longer and fight off larger and larger aquatic creatures.

At night any fish caught can be turned into treats to serve at the sushi restaurant. After setting a menu customers will come in and Dave is required to run around serving drinks and delivering food which is continually dispensed from the chef. As time progresses, you’ll get ever more tasks to attend to such as clearing away bowls and grating wasabi with the overall goal being to get the restaurant as popular as possible. It’s kind of like if someone mixed Root Beer Tapper with Theme Park.

You also have a mobile phone which continually updates with new apps providing you with more and more to manage. You’ll need to keep up the social media promotion for the restaurant, check emails for requests, answer scientific queries, develop weapons, and gear and hire staff. Life at a small restaurant was never going to be easy after all.

It’s a good thing then that every aspect of the game works and remains fun throughout. The short but chaotic bursts of the restaurant are a perfect juxtaposition with the more tranquil and longer diving sections. While the continued upgrading of gear and unlocks move at a pace that means there is always something new to do or slightly further to explore without it seeming completely overwhelming or becoming stagnant.

It helps that the game looks joyfully lovely. The Blue Hole is a gorgeous place to explore and even though it’s procedurally generated for each dive it still conforms to a sort of logic that means it’s both memorable and mysterious at the same time. There’s a wide range of fish swimming around and various sizes of creatures to capture, kill or simply avoid with the biggest sharks acting as unofficial bosses and gear check points. The above water sections are as equally full of life in their own way with characters all having their quirky charms and the customisable restaurant fitting the setting and overall tone well.

Overall, Dave the Diver is a welcome addition to the Switch library. Everything it sets out to do it achieves pretty much perfectly. All the different aspects of it blend to produce a wonderfully quirky and fun adventure for players to undertake. In a year of strong indie releases for the Switch this is one of the very best.

 Overall 9/10

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