May 28, 2024
Ten months on, Dave The Diver is sailing his way onto PlayStation 5, just as irreverent, entertaining and sensational as before. The Finger Guns review:

It was in June 2023 that the gaming world was spectacularly harpooned by the enigmatic spear of Dave The Diver. Bursting from the sea to deliver unto us a sensational blend of sushi restaurant management and fish hunting, it was a hit. Which is to put it as mildly as the pungent umami flavours oozing out of every morsel of this delectable delight.

Our very own Toby gave Dave a glowing review on PC, noting:

“With one of the most addictive gameplay loops of the year, Dave the Diver combines diving roguelike and sushi bar management with the skill of a master sushi chef. Its plucky irreverent tone, fun writing, constant minigames, and well-balanced drip-feed of mechanics made for an experience I was happy to sink many hours into.”

Having spent the best part of 20 hours sailing through almost every inch of this gorgeous Giant Blue Hole, I find myself unanimous in agreement. Dave The Diver is a sushi roll that’s been marinading for the best part of a year, and PlayStation players finally get to partake in the feast of what will be for many, their game of the year.

Shiver Me Tunas

Toby has already written a superb review, detailing the various facets that make Dave The Diver so wonderful. If you’d like a more comprehensive look at the story, mechanics and atmosphere of this wonderful game, I’d suggest bequeathing yourself to his review. This one will cover the port to PS5 and my own experience of the game as a whole, instead.

So, let’s start with the port of call onto PlayStation. This is fairly straightforward, as Dave The Diver plays fantastically on Sony’s console. During my entire time playing for review, I had one issue of minor screen tearing and one instance of a weird visual glitch. Wasn’t anything significant, a clone of Dave just spawned temporarily after a cutscene seemed to stutter.

In over 20 hours of playing, that’s remarkable, considering the state of other ports we’ve seen in recent years. Moreover, Dave The Diver runs impeccably, handles like a dream, and the interface controls are a bream in the breeze. Perhaps this should be the bare minimum expected, but MintRocket has clearly used the porting time to maximum efficiency in releasing this version.

If you had any question marks about the titular Dave diving onto your PS5, fear not. He’s as graceful and hilariously baffled at all times here as he was on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Dave The Diver review

Seahorsin’ Around

I’d heard a lot about Dave The Diver over the past year and was excited to play it for myself, though I didn’t really know what to expect. Well, I can safely say it blew all of my expectations out of the water. From the brilliantly implemented references to other games, to the ridiculously addictive daytime gameplay loop, I was hooked from the first minute.

This is a 20-course bonanza menu masquerading as a two-trick fast food joint. Farming for vegetables, managing your fishery, hunting over-the-top aquatic beasties, upgrading equipment, collecting resources, finishing research. You name a game system that’s present in other games, and you’ll find it here. Not only are they present, but they’re executed with aplomb.

At no point was I bored. In fact, at almost every glide or stroke I was bewildered with just how much Dave The Diver will continue to throw at you. The fact it never becomes overwhelming, or the systems too complicated, demonstrates a masterclass in game design. There’s a distinct learning and difficulty curve as you dive further and further into the deep blue, yet it’s never intimidating.

Somehow, the game is a simultaneous cosy fishing simulator and an ocean harbouring so many mastery ceilings. Hunting a tiger shark certainly became easier as Dave grew in diving prowess, but they never became any less a dangerous spectacle. Which is the beauty of the rogue-lite, management and action mechanics – they blend into a soup worthy of acclaim, the trophy of any sushi chef’s menu.

Dave The Diver review

Did Sashimi Running Those Plates?

After spending many a day-afternoon cycle catching, photographing and daringly escaping the watery playground, I’d then be welcomed by Bancho and the sushi restaurant. Probably my favourite part of Dave The Diver is setting up the evening menu, levelling up recipes, accruing staff to make poor Dave’s life that bit easier, and engaging in the chaos of rush hour sushi service.

If you think the boss battles are intense out in the Giant Blue Hole, you’ll only be welcomed with more carnage as customers demand the fruits of all your labour. Once again, the gameplay loop is of the quality Jiro Ono would be impressed by. Slowly developing a menu that can rake in the money I need to continue my diving escapades, clearing tables and pouring beers and cocktails, it all comes together incredibly well.

My only issue is that the evening slot designated for this part never satiated my desire to play more of it. Remarkably, Dave The Diver could have cut out just this quadrant of the game, served it up as a full plate of game and I’d have been as ravenous for it as the customers are for Bancho’s shark heads. This is the most purely joyful experience of a rogue-like game I’ve had since Hades, and the management side is just as good. Ridiculous.

That’s not even throwing in the numerous side quests, filled with charming and heart-warming little stories. You’ll save dolphins, heal sea people with special brews, aid a rapper in reconnecting with his farming routes. Dave The Diver is quirky, enigmatic and above all else, endearing in every facet of its design. Never mind the bombastically fun boss encounters and hordes of coin, Dave’s adventures are filled with the emotive sustenance that tugs right on the heartstrings.

Dave The Diver review

Photographic Fin-ish

Much like Toby, I equally adore Dave The Diver’s beautifully vibrant pixel art style. The cutscenes are gloriously silly and over-the-top. The reefs, caverns, rock formations and deep sea areas are stunning to venture into, dive after dive. Everything is rendered with gorgeous creativity, from the fish you’ll glide past to the customers leaving in raging disappointment when you forget their post-meal beer.

How the game expands over the course of dozens of hours is wildly impressive. The starting lagoon-like area is breathtaking enough, never mind some of the haunting yet breathtaking 2D spaces you’ll explore later on. Like many others, I too have found myself bobbing and humming along to the gentle background tunes that punctuate your time navigating each and every wonderful location. Perhaps we’ll all need a sushi bar to jam out to once Dave The Divers hits PlayStation Plus. Sushi Symphonies Anonymous?

None of this has even touched on the customisation options for the restaurant and the boat. The mini-games Dave can play on his phone at any time – including a full rhythm game and Tamagotchi style companion app. The creative puzzles and stealth sequences. Nor the humour, wit and panache that exudes from every carefully cut gill in this phenomenal title.

I laughed hard and often playing through Dave The Diver. I never felt the compulsion to skip dialogue, not once deemed my time being poorly spent. To have a smile on your face almost always (with the exception of being killed carrying oh-so-much aquatic loot) is a feat worthy of the best of the best. Dave may not be athletic in look, but he can ride these waves better than almost any other.

Dave The Diver review

Ride The Current

To put this as sharply as the knives Bancho serves up sushi with, Dave The Diver is the most pure fun I’ve had with a video game in ages. In a video game landscape defined by “slop” and “underachievement”, Dave The Diver serves up a meal that’s overflowing with flavour, class and wonderment. I couldn’t be more pleased to see it finally arrive on PS5, just so more people get to appreciate its splendour.

This is an example of when developers are given the creative freedom to produce something magical. A vision made reality with absolute perfection. Sure, I got annoyed once or twice when I lost loot or gambled with my oxygen too close to the wire, but that was all part of the fun. Dave would simply head to the restaurant and all was right again, a smile back on my face.

Toby wasn’t quite ready to give it a perfect score in his review, but I am. Dave The Diver is a sensationally entertaining, fantastically crafted and vibrantly beautiful game to play. Right now, there’s simply no other video game I’d want to spend my time on. Rising to the surface like a blue whale coming up for air, Dave The Diver is a massive, bewildering and stunning beast to behold.

Finally arriving on Sony’s console, PlayStation players are now blessed with one of 2023’s best games. Dave The Diver is a sprawling, beautiful and immensely fun video game. The rogue-lite and management genres are blended with nigh-on perfection, and the presentation is simply stellar. Serving up what can only be described as a remarkable masterclass, Dave The Diver is a must-play for anyone yet to sample this delectable treat.

Dave The Diver is available April 16th on PlayStation 5 (review platform). The game is already available now on Nintendo Switch and PC.

Developer: Mintrocket
Publisher: Mintrocket

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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