Dave The Diver is the debut game of Nexon’s new label Mintrocket. And it’s a fascinating game to debut with. It has roguelite elements mashed with a little bit of the menial task frenzy seen in games like the Cook, Serve Delicious! series, and a load of RPG elements. And fishing, sort of. And guns?
There are a lot of different design ideas and gameplay mechanics that are being thrown into the Big Blue Hole and from the Steam Next Fest demo, it looks to be working well.
You play as the titular Dave The Diver who gets a call one day from his old buddy Cobra for a joint venture opportunity: a sushi restaurant on a floating boat near the Giant Blue Hole. Dave has to go diving to catch fish in the day and afternoon, for use of the sushi chef Bancho to serve later in the evening. And Dave also has to help Bancho as the waiter.
There’s a lot going on for our big guy to get roped in, but he seems down for it. And as the days go by more opportunities start appearing. You will be contacted by researchers who are keen to study the Giant Blue Hole and its weird properties- like every time you venture down the terrain and ecology changes.
Also, the tougher fish bites back and so you need to bring guns? And there are crafting items like ores and ropes you need to find under the sea, justified by a cutscene where a giant octopus destroying ships?
Dave starts out with a harpoon gun, which can be used to catch fish. It’s such a weird and inefficient way of fishing, something even the story sort-of acknowledged. But it sort of fun. If only the harpoon shooting is snappier. As it is now it’s a bit cumbersome to aim and then shoot these slow harpoons to hit very small fish that moves quicker than you can.
Another peculiar choice is the game only supports keyboard and mouse options for now. It’s normal that a PC game prioritises that choice of controls, but this is one game that I would love to have playable with a controller.
The restaurant shift is fantastic though. As alluded earlier, the many quick mini-games you need to do is reminiscent of Cook, Serve, Delicious! and add in the need to manually move forward and back bringing the dishes to the customers and it’s a hectic fun. Thankfully it’s just in short bursts, and you can do a lot of preparation ahead of the shift.
Also of note is how nice the art design is. The blend of sprite art and voxel-y 3D models works great, and the hype montages when you upgrade equipment pieces and recipes are of the right amount of ridiculous that it’s cool and hype.
There is no voice acting, so in a lot of ways, the talky bits with slight mumble-mumble voice cues unique to each character will remind you of JRPGs of the yesteryears, even the writing style too. Which isn’t a bad thing per se.
There’s a lot going on with Dave The Diver. And the demo really shows promise that all these disparate ideas can somehow coalesce into one fun video game. Who knew a sea-exploration roguelite with guns and a restaurant sim plus RPG elements work well?
Dave The Diver will be launching on Steam Early Access soon.