Deaf Game Review – Dave The Diver

Dave The Diver is a pixel-based diving game that has fascinated a large audience. Dive, hunt fish and serve them in the sushi restaurant. This is our Deaf Accessibility review.


Dive into the immersive world of “Dave The Diver,” a pixel-based diving game featuring captivating 3D environments. Assume the role of Dave, a retired and portly diver, compelled to return to the depths by his friend Cobra. The reason? The enticing discovery of the Blue Hole, an ever-evolving ecosystem teeming with unprecedented aquatic life.

As a Deaf gamer, I was excited to embark on an exhilarating adventure in a dynamic underwater world, and encounter never-before-seen fish species. The excitement doesn’t end there – partner with Bancho, a renowned chef with a chequered past, to operate a sushi restaurant on the shoreline. Utilise the fish Dave captures to reclaim Bancho’s former culinary glory and embark on a journey back to fame!


Right away, the Settings are available on the main menu for the player. The settings are minimal with little to no adjustment options for accessibility like adjusting text size, font options, audio cues – all of which would’ve been a boon to the game. The Settings available are divided into four sections: Volume, Language, Controls, and Graphics, all of which can be navigated through by using a keyboard/mouse or controller.

Menu for Dave The Diver with options to adjust Music and Sound Effects volume, rebind controls, Automate button tapping, choose Language and change Window Mode and Resolution.

The Volume section has Music and Sound Effect adjustments. The game features ambient sounds and music, and the player can tailor the Volume of them to their liking.

The Language section applies only to text language. There are no in-game voices.

Under Controls, the game gives an option to “Automate button tapping”, which I recommend turning on because there are several in-game instances that require excessive button-mashing. Turning on “Automate button tapping” allows for a one-button hold to bypass the mash-heavy battles against many of the deep-sea creatures. However, even with button-mashing turning to holds, I found myself with keyboard fatigue.

As for the button rebind settings, the game grants you freedom to rebind keys to whatever is necessary for the user – both available for keyboard and controller. I chose to play Dave The Diver on a keyboard and mouse for ease of aiming the harpoon, which will be addressed later in this review. Surprisingly, the game lists out all possible keybinds ranging from those used in water, land, and general UI, and goes a step further to separate them so the user can easily locate the correct key.

Key rebinding screen for Dave The Diver, with separate tabs for Underwater, On Land and UI.

No button is hardcoded. Even common buttons to interact and open the menu – which are often the SPACEBAR and ESC key – in games can be swapped out and tailored to a different key that fits the player.

For Graphics, we can select the appropriate resolution and screen-mode for our system.

Once the game opens up, all dialogue is presented in a simple, clean text box with important information highlighted in yellow. I was thankful “Dave The Diver” absconded from a pixelated font style because they are often difficult and can lead to eye fatigue, especially for those with dyslexia. As a Deaf player, I found the font easy to read.

Subtitle size in Dave The Diver. White text on a blue back background reads "Oh, Dave you got here quickly." The word Dave appears in yellow. To the right of the text box, a character with white hair and goatee smiles. His eyes are covered by shades and wears a brightly colored shirt. Beneath the character, a small box displays his name "Cobra".


The game is divided into three phases, allowing players to decide how to allocate their time. While there’s no specific timer, players can utilise the morning, afternoon, and evening periods. Bedtime follows the evening phase, featuring a cutscene of Dave going to bed, and marks the start of the next day. The first phase presented in the game is diving.

Phase 1: Diving

Diving is relatively simple and fun, and the game holds your hand for the first dive. And if you forget how to play, there will be a Tips button available to the player later! Use WASD keys to move Dave, and the SPACEBAR to submerge.

Dave The Diver Tutorial. The tutorial shows a yellow box with the prompt key and the action associated. On top of line of white text with grey semi transparent background reads "Try moving to the arrow with W S A D"

The challenge of the game comes in using the harpoon to catch fish. The harpoon requires precise aiming with a mouse and isn’t forgiving towards misses, or fish that swim away. The harpoon has a limited firing range, making shots often miss, or allowing fish to hurt you if your aim is too slow.

The game lacks aim assist for guns used to shock, poison, electrocute, or burn smaller fish for capture. The idea is novel and immersive, but it is inaccessible and frustrating, especially during story battles with leviathan class fish where fast reaction time using the SHIFT key to quickly move Dave, and aiming with a mouse, are mandatory. Being hit by an aggressive fish decreases your oxygen tank and leads to Dave’s death if the player is too slow to dodge or aim.

Dave The Diver Gameplay showing the character underwater. Rocks are on the left and a group of colourful but very small fish on the right. On the bottom left there's an oxygen indicator.

Because of this, I chose to play with a keyboard and mouse for easier aiming after some frustration attempting with a controller, which felt slower and more punishing for misses.

Additionally, some fish are extremely small and hard to see (shown below in the yellow circle), adding to the aim difficulty. Smaller fish get more challenging to see as the story progresses and Dave’s oxygen tank expands to go deeper into the twilight zone.

Dave The Diver Gameplay showing the character aiming at a tiny fish. A very small fish has been rounded with a yellow circle as an edit to highlight its tiny size.

Despite the aim difficulties, “Dave The Diver” is a homerun for a Deaf player. It is a visual feast. Everything is closed captioned. But the winning moment that sealed the game as a favourite came in a mission asking Dave to rescue a baby manatee that all ocean games moving forward should learn from: visual sound.

Dave The Diver Gameplay showing a visual indicator for sound in the shape of waves. The image has been edited with a yellow circle to help locate it.

Often games will have audio to denote sound with it growing louder or softer depending on your location. Here, Nexon chooses to show sound as a visual element. Sound is a VFX that resembles echolocation, and it moves around the screen depending on the player’s location relative to the marker – in this case, finding a missing baby manatee. The echolocation grows larger the closer the player is to the correct location, making it easy for Deaf players to match hearing players when it comes to audio trials.

Phase 2: Bancho Sushi

Bancho’s Sushi experience comes after a successful dive. Bancho will cut up and serve all fish you’ve successfully captured during your dive. The goal is to make money to expand the restaurant, decorate it, recruit additional servers, and acquire enough experience to serve special dishes.

A limited number of food can be served each evening, so the player must choose a catch acquired during the diving phase with the most profit. As Bancho prepares fish, it’s Dave’s job to serve them to the customers. The game makes it easy to serve the right customer with a lit-up speech bubble. Incorrect food will automatically be greyed out. You can never serve the wrong customer because the game doesn’t allow it.

Similar to diving, move Dave with WASD keys, the SPACEBAR to serve a customer, and the Q button to toss a dish if the customer already stormed off angry you didn’t serve them on time.

However, the restaurant experience – while exciting and fast – has UI problems. Dave’s stamina bar is too small to see, thus making serving customers on time before they get frustrated and leave difficult. The image below (circled in yellow) shows the purple stamina bar.

Dave The Diver Gameplay showing the character's stamina indicator when serving sushi. A small bar has been rounded with a yellow circle as an edit to highlight its small size.

Despite the frustratingly small stamina UI, the game does a great job in this phase captioning all the customers’ comments, positive and negative. No dialogue is uncaptioned. Feel good when customers shout “Lovely stuff!” with hearts floating above their heads.

Dave The Diver Gameplay showing captions for customers comments. They appear as white text over the characters heads, with no background.

Phase 3: Farming

The most leisure of the phases, Farming!

Dave is given two farms (and later three); the first is a traditional land farm maintained by an eccentric farmer named Otto, who offers to help Dave grow vegetables for Bancho’s sushi restaurant. Wouldn’t you like some flamin’ hot peppers to make your mouth burn when you eat it with a vampire squid?!

The second farm is a fish farm, also maintained by Otto. Here, he promises if you catch two fish of the same species, they can breed. No need to dive for your sushi meat when the fish farm does it for you!

Dave The Diver Gameplay showing the Fish Farm. A platform built with wood, with several passageways and platforms floating on the ocean.

Both farms are easy to maintain. On the land farm, simply ensure your crops are watered and weeds are pulled to ensure vegetables grow. On the fish farm, play the game as normal and eggs will naturally appear when you’ve caught two or more of the same species of fish. The UI prompts the player with the option to automatically “Sell All” for an easy profit, or “Use All Ingredients”, directly sending extra fish to Bancho and leaving behind two for breeding.

Both farms can be expanded to hold more as the game progresses and the player has disposable income to upgrade.

Game UI

The UI strikes a balance between mimicking the real-world and generating something exclusive to the game space. A perfect example of “Dave The Diver” immersing the player in familiar features is Dave’s phone.

Dave The Diver Phone UI. The interface looks like a smartphone screen, with access icons for Settings, minigames, contacts, music and more.
Dave The Diver Call UI. The interface looks like a smartphone screen, with a call screen showing the contact's face, name and a prompt.

The screen looks like any used around the world. Dave can navigate through calls (but that’s captioned, don’t worry!), his personal calendar, some minigames, the weather, and my favourite, social media!

Dave The Diver Cooksta App. The interface looks like a smartphone screen browsing social media with the funny remark "Jason is shy" and a character resembling Jason from Friday 13th slurping a cocktail.

Because what is social media if not tagging photos and hoping to get popular through likes? Don’t tell anyone, but Bancho’s has an addiction to “Cooksta”, the app for chefs and food critics to post restaurant reviews and ratings. He takes them seriously!

The phone “Settings” app navigates to the game settings where players can adjust the choices like controller remapping. It is also – strangely – the only way to exit the game without ALT+F4ing.

I loved the phone, but I would’ve loved it even more if I could adjust the screen by moving apps, making the icons bigger, and having an additional screen to put my favourite apps on for quick access.

But not all UI is familiar and mimics the real-world. The game creates additional ones like the oxygen metre, the missions list, and Dave’s inventory.

Dave The Diver Inventory. There is a list of the fish types required to get, with numbers indicating how many we have and have. There are also indications with similar format for items to get for missions and more.

Dave’s inventory shows the player information like their selected harpoon, gun, charms, missions, and any items they’ve acquired during their dive. Some missions will require a certain number of sashimi cuts for Bancho’s restaurant, and thus require the player to double or triple check their inventory to see how many fish they’ve captured! This made my dives manageable. I did not have to re-dive multiple times when I could check my inventory by pushing the ESC button on my keyboard and continue hunting for fish. All I had to manage was my ammo and oxygen.

Mintrocket’s blend of both UIs is intuitive and true to the spirit of the game: role-playing as a retired, out-of-shape diver who never fails to make the player smile. But it fails to make it accessible with its fixed size. Much of the UI is small and hard-to-see with no options to readjust them.

Final Thoughts

“Dave The Diver” is a fun game packed with a surprising amount of content and DLC – partnered with Team17’s “Dredge” – and doesn’t hesitate to make fun of itself. Many times I found myself grinning from ear-to-ear at the silliness.

However, the journey is not without its hurdles, as “Dave The Diver” grapples with visual and mobile accessibility challenges that can potentially exclude disabled gamers from immersing themselves in its vibrant and humour-filled universe. The absence of aim assist, a crucial element in a game requiring precision aiming, proved to be a source of frustration, limiting the game’s accessibility and potential appeal to a broader audience.
On a positive note, the game shines in its commitment to closed captioning, a feature that enhances the experience for players with hearing impairments. I found myself excitedly noting background chatter captioned at Bancho’s restaurant while serving customers, adding a layer of inclusivity to the gameplay.

“Dave The Diver” emerges as a mixed bag of delights and drawbacks. It masterfully weaves the intended narrative, ensuring players are constantly adorned with smiles throughout the adventure. As a Deaf player, I experienced a perfect 10/10 escapade without accessibility barriers. However, the same cannot be said for players with mobility or vision impairments, who may find themselves unable to partake in the game’s exuberance.


  • Visual echolocation.
  • Fully captioned.
  • Good overall text legibility.
  • Full button remapping.


  • Fixed UI size.
  • Fixed font size and type.
  • No aim assist.

Overall Score