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Tuesday, November 14, 2023 12:55:52 AM

Dave the Diver Review (Blibbles)

Every dive is a test of your ability. Every night is one more result of your pursuit of culinary arts.
Dave the Diver is a perfect game.
This is the second game I have ever sought the achievements for. The first being Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. But I told myself that I would be fair to the games I have played by getting all of their achievements if I truly love the game. And you can assured that this review will sing nothing but praise of Dave... and his diving.
Let's talk about story: You play as a large fellow named Dave. He is a diver, and he has approached by an old acquaintance named Cobra who sells him on the idea of getting Sushi, only to be met with the cold and studious Bancho, a disgraced Sushi chef who recently came back into the Food World. The goal? To make the best sushi in the world from the fish that can be found in the Blue Hole, a wondrous, ever changing undersea phenomenon rife with a diverse and colorful ecosystem. Your job, as Dave... the Diver... Is to dive into the Blue Hole and collect the ingredients Bancho needs to perfect his craft.
Along the way of becoming the best Sushi restaurant, you meet an amazing slew of characters from Bancho's old boss, to a washed up farmer, to an overenthusiastic archaeologist, to a weeb obsessed with making special equipment. You meet them, you dine them, they, in turn, help you and Bancho. And along the way, you find out the mystery of the very recent and violent earthquakes. The game does a fantastic job of portraying all of the side characters, and their quirky pixel by pixel animated cutscenes will always floor you. It's always a highlight to watch.
The gameplay itself is a mysterious one: You spend the morning and the afternoon diving for fish. And in the evening, you open your restaurant for the rest of the night. By morning, you start the cycle again. The game paces you out by giving you minimal diving tools to catch fish. Initially, armed only with a knife, and a harpoon gun. As you progress, you gain access to more tools, more guns, more things to grab more fish. You're also met with various minigames that open up new parts of the Blue Hole. For how repetitive the cycle of diving is, somehow, you are never bored. It's always one more dive. And the developers were super smart to change up the gameplay in many ways to keep your attention in bite-sized portions, but allow you the freedom of staying in the water, until you're full, or as long as you want. However, the challenges of the violent undersea fauna will prove to be your biggest obstacles in obtaining your menu for the day. Once you kill them, it's a success. Once you capture them, you're overjoyed in how much you've collected!
There are bosses; they're not hard, but they're not easy either. And the game allows you to try as many times as you need without needlessly shoving you back to the surface should you fail. Although, you do have the choice. The game isn't needlessly cruel, and ultimately it wants you to come back and feel like you have a chance.
Don't wanna dive 'cause you wanna do other things? Do it! Skip the night! I'll also want to say, DO NOT feel like you're going to miss things permanently. There's only one thing that I think is missable, and it's an achievement for an easter egg. The game allows you to take your time, and as long as you need, even if you miss certain events, they'll come back. Don't worry!
The otherside of this is the night time portion of the game, Bancho's Sushi. You are the manager of this establishment, as Bancho leads the kitchen. Your job is to not only gather the ingredients, but to serve your customers, refill the wasabi, manage and hire new people, train them, and also spend your hard earned gold in whatever way you see fit. The better you perform in your restaurant, the more you can afford for upgrades, training, new dishes, new interior, to the point where you'll try to find ways to automate the night. No man is an island, and Dave and Bancho cannot run this restaurant by themselves! I thoroughly enjoyed this moment in the game, because it allows you to see the fruits of your labor.
You also gain new ways to source your ingredients as you open a fish farm, and eventually land farming! Your cycles will continue to optimize as you keep playing and enjoying yourself.
The music is superb, and perhaps it's the only place where I feel like it's not done enough justice. The game's soundtrack is so good, and full. Bordering on mystifying, to relaxing, to action packed.. And the game allows you to play the soundtracks on your phone, as you find them. What it DOESN'T do, is let you play the music anywhere in the game. And I think that's criminal, because there are so many good tracks. You'll be hooked on every beat and theme. The sound design is also a great area where this game shines, due to the sound of moving through the water, the sound of your harpoon hooking, the funny babbles of the NPCs as they speak nonsense, but you get it!! (My favorite noise being Dr. Bacon when he's flailing his hands in excitement. Or Dave when he's disappointed.)
So not only did I learn all about sushi, but I learned a lot about marine wildlife and the different biomes in which a lot of these fish live in. Yeah, I totally served Narwahl to my guests, but I learned about their majesty, I learned the cruelty of the sea, but this game also let me ride on a beluga, pet them, and save a manatee. This game is simply a joy.
Honestly, the real reason I'm writing this is because the game happens so fast. This game is so good. It's just about a perfect game with so much heart in it, you can hardly put the controller down. If you had ANY doubts, dispel them.
Put on your wet suit and dive. GOODBYE-TERNITY‚≠ź
(Side note: I may have a huge crush on Dave in general. What a cutie!)