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    dkirschner's Dave the Diver (PS4)

    [July 1, 2024 06:28:43 AM]
    Iím about to start rapid-firing these entries as I finish up the last of my PS4 games and sign up for a gaming-filled July with a month of Game Pass. The last longer game I had on PS Plus was Dave the Diver, which was so great. I had some vague idea of what it was, some hybrid of restaurant management sim and exploration/roguelike that got both praised and critiqued for the huge number of genres and gameplay activities it mashed together. Well, let me tell you, mash genres together it does. The restaurant management sim and the roguelike are the big parts, but there is also farming sim, Pokťmon-style collect-Ďem-all, minigames (one is a rhythm game, one is an endless runner game, one is an arcade shooter, etc.), and more. The whole thing is wrapped in a beautifully pixelated package that reminded me of an old JRPG, or like something quirky like Undertale. Itís super clever, itís charming, itís funny, and itíll keep surprising you for the duration.

    Here's the basic gameplay loop. (You are Dave, by the way, and you dive for fish to supply your friendís sushi restaurant). There are three parts of the day: morning, afternoon, and night. You dive in the morning and afternoon. Catch the fish, prepare the menu for the restaurant, and then work the sushi restaurant at night. Repeat. There are, of course, a bunch of characters and a lot of things that happen around the basic gameplay loop. The diving is the exploration/roguelike. Youíll dive deeper and deeper, upgrade your suit, your oxygen, your weapons, etc. It can get repetitive, as you are constantly chasing the next upgrade. Dive, dive, sushi, dive, dive, sushi, dive, dive, sushi. But the Blue Hole (the area where you are diving) changes every day, so no two dives are ever the same. Some things will always be in the same spot, and certain types of fish and resources exist in certain depth ranges, so youíll know generally where you need to go if you are looking for something specific.

    There are probably a hundred types of fish overall, and coupled with the variety of weapon modifications that you get, and the fact that many fish and weapon mods require different strategies or actions to interact with, there is great variety in the combat. Simple seahorses and things you can pick up with a net. Then, your main weapon types are a harpoon gun (which has different ďtipsĒópoison tip does damage over time, lightning tip has a chance to shock and slow fish, etc.) and gun guns (a basic rifle, a sniper rifle [my favorite because it can be used at distance to keep you safe!], a triple-shotgun, etc.). When you shoot a fish with a harpoon gun and bring its health down to some amount, as long as itís not too simple a catch, you complete a quick-time event to reel it in. For the poison tip, you rotate the left stick; for the regular harpoon, you mash X; for the lightning tip, you press X when a needle passes through the sweet spot of a power meter; and so on. Most fish are straightforward to catch, but others are aggressive (e.g., the sharks) and pose a real threat to Dave. You will die, possibly a lot. I probably died 10 or 15 times during regular dives, which means that I lost all my stuff from my dives 10 or 15 times. It is frustrating to die, but itís always your fault! Usually when I died, my inventory was full or over full (which slows your movement), and I was trying to kill a big shark or something before going back to the boat, when I should have just returned. I died more on boss fights, which are intense and creative with a trick or two you need to figure out, but those will just let you restart the fight, which was nice.

    The sushi restaurant management sim was way more fun than I thought it would be. I tend to avoid management sims, but the way that it connected to the diving made it more meaningful. You catch the fish, use what you caught to create the restaurantís menu each night, and help run food. You also invest your hard-earned money into hiring and training restaurant staff, and itís satisfying to see the restaurant operating at peak efficiency! Sometimes there are special events at the restaurant, for example when a VIP (like a celebrity chef) comes to visit and demands a special dish. These extra challenges are fun, and you are rewarded with one of Dave the Diverís amazing cut scenes.

    I could sit here and write on and on about this, but I think that my favorite thing, and what I am most impressed by, is the attention to detail in every aspect of the game, from the art style to the sushi dishes. Dave the Diver integrated several genres (some of which I tend not to like) and put them in a package that I loved. I will probably think about this game for a long time!
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    dkirschner's Dave the Diver (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 23 June, 2024

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 27 June, 2024

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Loving this. So much to do. Roguelike, exploration, management sim, all in one. --------- Clever, charming, tons of fun. Love the cut scenes.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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