It’s not every day that a rich acquaintance of yours calls you on the phone while you’re lazing at the beach. After a quick conversation, you catch the next flight out and find yourself in a boat dressed in diving gear. This is the start of ‘Dave the Diver’. As a video game enthusiast, I have often been engaged in numerous different occupations within these games — assassin, medieval alchemist, adventurous fox, and even a ferryman of the dead. Compared to these illustrious careers, my work as a diver seems rather bland. But I am not complaining. Because playing ‘Dave the Diver’ after, say, playing a barbarian in Diablo IV, is like sipping tea in the afternoon after a day of hard work.
The game is described as an ‘adventure RPG’. But I disagree. In essence, ‘Dave the Diver’ is a 2D pixel management simulator, with some elements of an adventure game. The game revolves around the stressful work life of Dave: a reluctant employee of a dive-boat owner called Cobra, and a sushi bar chef named Bancho. Set in repetitive day and night cycles, the gameplay within each day changes based on the work that he does. In the mornings, he dives into the ocean floor, and in the evenings, he moonlights as the waiter at the sushi bar.
For the dive missions, Dave usually gets requests to fetch items that are lost in the ocean. He must also catch some fish, which Bancho will later use to cook dinner for the Sushi Bar customers. The diving adventures become even more complicated when you realise that you have just about a day to catch the right amount of the correct type of fish and other lost items while keeping in mind a whole list of several other constraints. Such as the weight that Dave can lug around underwater, the limits of the oxygen tank, and the ability to swim away or attack the nastier fish.
The mild ordeal of the mornings is worth it though, when you realise the more rewarding evening mini-games. Every evening, Dave creates a custom menu based on his fish haul for the day. The hurried panic of waiting tables and pouring green tea for customers is weirdly meditative because the stakes feel quite low. Made a loss in the Sushi bar today? That’s alright, you can sell some underwater treasures tomorrow and make up for it! I also greatly enjoy the growth of the Sushi bar as the day progresses. Hiring new employees, and creating new recipes aside, Dave also needs to keep an eye on the social media responses for the bar — optimising the dishes and serving for maximum satisfaction.
While these two main occupations in the game remain unchanged, the game has a way of staying fresh as the days march on. There are always new fish to find, and new treasures to hunt. There are also better ways to navigate the underwaters, and Dave befriends new people to help him with the process. For example, we meet Duff, the weapons guy that makes shiny new guns for Dave to use on the more violent sharks.
Only a month since its release in Windows and macOS, ‘Dave the Diver’ is already incredibly popular and well-loved.
Developed and published by Mintrocket, the game is currently priced at Rs 880 on the Steam store.