Dave The Diver Nintendo Switch review: One of the year’s best games on the go
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: MINTROCKET
I can only assume I’m probably the latest in a long line of people to tell you that Dave The Diver is one of the year’s most delightful games. But what you might not know is that it’s now on Nintendo Switch, and the cosy sushi sim has translated beautifully to the handheld console.
Dave The Diver is, for those who may be unaware, a diving sim/sushi restaurant management sim/Metroidvania-style exploration adventure/a whole bunch of other things that I can’t talk about without spoiling some fun surprises. Dave The Diver is an awful lot of things, in other words. On paper, one might argue it is too many things. But it manages to massage these competing styles of gameplay into a richly satisfying loop.
You play as the titular diver, tasked with helping to open a sushi restaurant next to a mysterious underwater crater that somehow contains pretty much every kind of fish in the world. In much the same way young professionals are expected to do the jobs of seven or eight different people, so too must Dave manage the restaurant, hire staff, wait tables and, research recipes, manage restaurant’s social media channels most importantly, dive into the briny depths to catch fish to turn into sushi. Dave is not paid enough.
You’ll spend your days underwater finding new and tasty critters for the restaurant, and the evenings serving up recipes based on the fish you caught. Money earned in the evening can be used to upgrade your diving gear, allowing you to reach new depths and catch bigger game, which in turn leads to a greater profit at the restaurant. The restaurant itself can also be upgraded, and you’ll be able to hire and train staff to help you out as word spreads and your popularity increases.
Obviously, underwater is where you’ll spend most of your time, and the development team at MINTROCKET have done an astounding job of ensuring it looks, feels, and sounds incredible. There’s a terrifying tension in balancing your cargo weight and remaining oxygen, weighing up whether you should attempt to take down the shark you just spotted or get back to the surface with what you already have. If you do “die” underwater, you simply appear back on your boat without any of the fish you caught. There’s always tomorrow, though, and the game will never punish you too hard for taking risks.
If this was all there was to Dave The Diver it might prove a pleasing, if ultimately fleeting, distraction. The game continues to introduce new features and mysteries as you progress, bringing in useful tools like a fish farm, and a much deeper story that gradually reveals itself over the course of the adventure. There are also various side missions and activities to engage with, like photo missions and aquatic preservation jobs which, hilariously, usually amount to you going into the water and shooting a specific number of fish.
Dave The Diver has obviously had to make a few concessions to make it onto the Switch, but for the most part it swims along beautifully. Loading screens are a little longer, and there’s the occasional framerate dip, but this is a fantastic way to play one of the year’s very best games. The game’s central loop of exploration and fishing in the day followed by an evening of restauranteering makes it perfectly suited to Nintendo’s handheld as a cosy pick-up-and-play game. A definite must-play, which is really saying something given how many must-plays we’ve already had this year.
Pros: Wonderful soundtrack, satisfying gameplay loop, sweet characters and dialogue
Cons: Long loading screens
For fans of: Steamworld Dig, Dredge
Dave The Diver is available now for Nintendo Switch (version tested) and PC. Review code provided by the publisher. Read a guide to our review scores here.