Dave the Diver is a tough game to describe. Part restaurant sim, part fishing adventure, it’s all sorts of unique. Throw in some interesting characters, witty dialogue, a mystery to solve, and there’s only one thing you need to know: you’re in for a good time with this one.

There’s so much to say about this game; where do I begin? The story is intriguing, even though it’s simple at its core. Dave is a deep-sea diver by trade. He receives a call while on vacation to help out his old buddy with a new sushi business. It seems the local diving spots are plentiful with fish, and Dave’s talents are needed to reel them in.

Meanwhile, an accident at the new sushi bar prevents it from opening, and the team needs funds to make some repairs. Cue our friend Dave being roped in to serve the customers as well as catch the food.

It doesn’t end there. It seems Dave’s reputation precedes him. He receives multiple calls from various parties seeking assistance with all things sea-related. Whether it’s a doctor searching for historical artifacts to prove the existence of an ancient civilization or a professor seeking certain marine life for her studies, everyone wants a piece of Dave.

Needless to say, there are two distinct sides to the Dive-the-Diver coin, both of which work together seamlessly to create an engaging experience. During the day, you venture out to sea on your boat and dive into the deep blue to catch fish and hunt for treasure. You can do two dives per day. Once night rolls in, you’re off to the restaurant for the other half of the game. Even though the gameplay is completely different, both elements mesh together in a way that doesn’t break the flow. 

Diving is conducted from a side view. Dave’s tank only has so much air, which also serves as a life meter. This means that attacks from aquatic creatures deplete your air supply. If you run out, you lose all but one of the goodies you’ve caught. Having one meter keeps things simple in terms of monitoring, but also means you have to be careful how far you travel and how recklessly you interact with sea life.

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For example, there are big sharks. There’s a quest to retrieve shark meat for a particular customer, so you can’t avoid this scary-looking meat eater forever. But when you first approach, you will be mauled. It’s scary, but it teaches a valuable lesson: don’t go in unprepared. 

To this end, you’re equipped with a harpoon. Most fish can be caught with one strike, though they tend to move away from you as you approach, so there’s also an element of sneaking up on them. Tougher fish require stronger weapons, and these can be collected and built as you progress. Items like guns allow you to become somewhat braver as you navigate the depths of this underwater realm.

Treasure chests are dotted about the place, too. These contain various items to collect, including weapon blueprints. More importantly, they sometimes provide air that tops up your tank. You’ll also find escape pods that allow you to reach the surface quickly, handy if you’re trapped far from the surface and running low on air. 

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While it can be stressful to gather everything you find in one session, the deep-sea adventuring part of Dave the Diver is super fun. The only downside is that it feels like it’s over too quickly, and I found myself hanging out to come back for more the next day. But the restaurant side of things is equally enjoyable. 

I’m not much for simulation games, so I initially felt unsure about the restaurant component. Your time in the restaurant involves several elements, such as choosing menu items, upgrading the decor, and serving customers. It’s fun to use your catches of the day to curate the menu, and it’s simple to do. You also upgrade as you progress, opening more options and slots. You really can turn your restaurant into something amazing. You’ll need to successfully serve your customers each night to create a thriving business.

Dave can move from left to right to approach customers as they sit at the bar. The orders are automatically taken, so it’s mostly a matter of retrieving the food from the chef and delivering it. Occasionally, customers will also order drinks, and Dave’s in charge of pouring those. It must be done just right, but it’s easy enough to score a perfect every time. Then there’s a cleaning aspect to wipe down the bar once the customer leaves. Again, this is a simple endeavor, accomplished by holding down the relevant button. What makes things slightly more complicated is the time element. The customers can be impatient, and they start getting angry if you take too long. Late orders mean less money and a bad reputation, so timely delivery is key. 

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Graphically, Dave the Diver sports a colorful aesthetic that combines a cartoony style with a retro edge. Sprites purposefully appear slightly pixelated, giving them a neat look. The music is also superb, particularly while diving. It verges on retro as well, with synth pop beats that sound like the composer has taken cues from the late ‘80s. It’s relaxing and very cool.

Overall, Dave the Diver is a fantastic title that successfully combines two very different genres into one. The deep-sea diving is action packed and full of exploration. The restaurant-sim side is put together in a way that’s challenging without being overwhelming. I highly recommend this title!