Newly released onto the Nintendo Switch is one 2023’s best-rated games, Dave the Diver. Developed by South Korean studio MINTROCKET, a subsidiary of Nexon, the game has seen huge success both commercially and critically. Selling 1 million copies in just 10 days after its release onto PC, we needed to find out what all the fuss was about for ourselves and what better way to do so than by checking out the Switch release.
The game feels somewhat familiar to anyone who has played a title like Moonlighter, where half the time you are going on an adventure and accumulating valuables, and the other half you are selling those valuables in your store. Dave the Diver takes this concept to aquatic new depths, allowing you to experience the serenity and terror of the ocean as you dive deeper and net yourself some new fish to sell in your sushi restaurant. It’s all represented with beautiful pixel graphics and some fantastic over-the-top characters that bring the whole world to life.
The game runs on the Switch like a dream. Playing in handheld mode gives you the freedom to take the game with you and Dave the Diver does benefit from that pick-up-and-play functionality. As you begin to upgrade your equipment, you can start doing deeper dives and spend more time underwater. The colours of the game bounce off the screen with vibrancy and it quickly became part of my pre-sleep ritual, as I’d take Dave to bed with me for a cheeky dive before putting him down for the night.
What surprised me about Dave the Diver the most is just how narratively driven the title is. This isn’t just a resource accumulation game, it’s a game with many characters, tasks to accomplish, and plot points. It’s actually staggering just how deep the game can get (pun absolutely intended) as you uncover new missions, new minigames, new mechanics, new boss fights and much more in the back half of the game. There’s just so much to keep you occupied and you pretty quickly figure out that Dave the Diver is far from a small indie project, it’s quite the epic undertaking.
The only downside to the Switch version of the game is some of the loading screens. This is typically only felt when you exit out of a cave or some other area of the game and back into the main chamber of the ocean. A fairly sizable loading screen will stand between you and further ocean exploration but it’s a very understandable setback and one that ultimately didn’t feel hugely cumbersome.
The game controls really well on the Switch, with the haptics of the Joy-Cons providing extra emphasis on every shot of the harpoon. Broadly speaking, Dave the Diver is just a delightful and enjoyable game. It has enough narrative to give you context and motivation, a fresh gameplay premise that maintains excitement throughout, and plenty of additional flourishes that keep the charm and intrigue high. I do at times wish the procedural generation of the underwater world felt a little more dynamic, giving more variety to each dive. Though ultimately that critique does little to stand in the way of what is an excellent experience and an easy recommendation for your Switch library.