Dave The Diver PS5 Review – A Worthy Tuna-Up

Hooked again.

Sure, the discourse may have been eventually been clouded by arguments over whether or not it could be considered an “indie” game (something the creators have since cleared up), but there’s no denying Dave the Diver made quite the splash last year when it launched for PCs and then eventually the Nintendo Switch. Now, carrying on the inexplicable tradition of well-loved smaller efforts rocking up much later on PlayStation devices, the game is ready to set sail for PS5 and PS4. And unsurprisingly, it’s still very good.

If you’re one of those who’ve been holding out for this release and have not already had the pleasure of the dive (or the Dave), what’s here is a deceptively simple concept. As the titular Dave, you’re called on by the enigmatic but talented Chef Bancho for an important job – help his new waterfront sushi restaurant flourish by diving for fresh marine protein by day and managing the eatery by night. These two distinct types of gameplay form the core loop, with money from the restaurant funding better diving equipment to catch more exotic fish, in turn creating new and increasingly gourmet dishes to raise the profile and income of the restaurant and create new business opportunities like interior renovations and a bigger staff.

The thing that makes Dave the Diver truly special though, is that this, admittedly already-addictive, initial loop is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The deeper you go, literally and figuratively, the more layers you begin to uncover and the weirder things get. There’s more in these seas than just fish, after all, and more to the people you’ll meet above the surface than just hungry patrons looking for the next plate of delicious sushi. I’d hate to give too much away for anyone that’s managed to come in completely fresh, but there’s a reason Dave the Diver can sustain itself for a good 20-30 hour runtime and continue to surprise and delight the entire way through.

This game’s been out a while though, and there are countless other in-depth reviews you can read if you’re looking for more than a surface-level report on just how wacky this game can be, especially in the absurd things that characters say and the sheer detail packed into some of its playable gags. What you’re more likely here for is a few words on how Dave the Diver fares on PlayStation consoles, and after staying up many nights way longer than I should’ve recently, I think I can help with that.

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The good, obvious news is, the game still slaps like a wet fish in the face. The experience is intact, and naturally looks and performs wonderfully on the PS5 where I spent my time playing it. Dave’s endearing combination of pixel art character models, simple 3D environments and lots of lovely effects goes down a treat in razor-sharp detail on a big telly, as do all of the incredible one-off retro-animated sequences you’ll discover as you do new things. In any other hands the weird grab bag of different visual elements here could have gone belly-up but it’s all just off-kilter enough to make it wonderfully compelling. The same goes for the soundtrack full of earworms and the Animal Crossing-esque dialogue.

And of course, there are some neat PS5-exclusive embellishments to be found here. At first I wasn’t entirely sure if a game that prides itself on lo-fi visuals and simple moment-to-moment gameplay really needs “immersive” DualSense features, but over time I’ve really grown to appreciate that extra little bit of tactility. Feeling the tug of a harpooned fish adds a bit of a thrill to the catch, and after a few hours you’ll start to notice the subtle difference in feel between different bits of gear that gives it a nice bit of extra (sorry) depth. Phone calls and camera snaps also come through the controller’s speaker, and pouring green tea or beer even offers some weirdly-calming feedback. The loading times between some areas also seem to have been brought under control here, at least on PS5.

It’s also a great fit for the PlayStation Portal, where the tiniest touch of latency and some occasionally tiny fish aren’t total dealbreakers. I’ve spent countless hours sitting in bed or rugged up on the couch on a cold morning just diving for fish and treasures on my Portal and it’s been bloody lovely. It’s no small wonder this game was so popular on Switch and the good ol’, Steam Deck.

It might not come as a surprise, but Dave the Diver is just as good on PlayStation as it is elsewhere. If you're yet to experience this intoxicating combination of scuba, sushi and silly mini-games, there's really never been a better time – especially because you can snag it as part of a PlayStation Plus Extra subscription.
Wonderfully moreish core gameplay loop
Some wildly detailed mini-games
Absurd but genuinely earnest characters and writing
PS5-specific qualities are nice to have
Some elements do become repetitive in the back half