Very soon after its release, Dave the Diver became an internet phenomenon. Its success is evidence of how an accessible and charming game can transfix an audience and be an entry point for those who may not typically even play video games. It merges various genres into a single entertaining pixel-art experience, where you can take to the seas during the day and manage a restaurant at night. If you enjoyed it, you may be wondering what other games to jump to next. Here are 10 of the best indie games to play like Dave the Diver.
10 Best Indie Games to Play Like Dave the Diver
While games on this list channel Dave the Diver in various ways and are in no particular order, we had to put Moonlighter first. This fantasy RPG perfectly mimics the core day and night cycle of Dave the Diver, and presents plenty of mystery, to boot.
In Moonlighter, you play as Will, who’s both a shopkeeper and an adventurer. At night, you delve into a mysterious dungeon fighting monsters and collecting exciting treasures and artifacts. During the day, you customize your shop and sell the loot you found to the denizens of your small town.
Sound familiar? Moonlighter is a magical, action-packed roguelite experience where each dive into the dungeon uncovers new treasures, skills, and secrets about the world.
Dredge is a spooky Lovecraftian fishing game that flirts with eldritch horror throughout its story. While its narrative and general atmosphere will creep you out in the best of ways, its core gameplay loop is surprisingly similar to Dave the Diver.
You pilot your fishing ship and scour the seas for rare and exotic marine life — as well as treasure. If you don’t go mad at night or fall victim to an ancient leviathan, you’ll go back to your village and sell your catch. Dredge mixes fishing and running a successful business with ship management. It only helps that a hauntingly beautiful story acts as the backdrop.
Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya
On a far lighter and cuter note, it’s Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya. This blend of pixel art animation and an anime aesthetic lets you live out a restauranteur’s dream. Here, you play as Mystia, a passionate and driven owner of a small Izakaya.
The game delves much deeper into the job-simulator genre than Dave the Diver, employing complex but entertaining restaurant management mechanics. You’ll collect ingredients and recipes during the day and cater to your customers at night (you know the drill by now). It helps that the game’s art style is just adorable.
Here, we have a deeply emotional and relaxing seafaring game about dying and helping souls peacefully pass into the afterlife. Spiritfarer is an incredible game that’s not afraid of exploring the various aspects of death with a story-rich and cozy aesthetic.
You navigate the seas of the spirit world as a ferry master to the deceased. While doing so, you explore the world, visiting various islands and coming across even more companions. On top of that, there’s unique ship management and a day/night cycle.
Aside from that, you can fish, grow a farm, build various structures on your ship (like art galleries and game rooms), and much more. It’s one of the most heart-warming and engaging experiences in the indie game world.
Taking the concept of diving into the unknown to the extreme, Subnautica isn’t for those with thalassophobia. Instead of catching and serving fish in a restaurant, you take on the role of an explorer and scientist. Descending into the ancient and mysterious depths of an alien world, your goal is to record the various forms of marine life.
On top of that, Subnautica is a survival game. You’ll gather resources and craft new equipment to undertake the various challenges of this underwater open world. As you explore cave systems, submerged volcanoes, and various coral reefs, you’ll learn how to build and navigate submarines, construct sprawling bases, and more about the the mysteries you uncover.
Getting back to the RPG elements baked into Dave the Diver, we have the sandbox life sim game Kynseed. While there isn’t much seafaring or fishing to be had her, you’ll manage a business, go on grand adventures, partake in bucolic village life, and even raise a family. There’s cooking, crafting, and home-building, all culminating in a truly fun and relaxing experience.
Similar to Moonlighter and Dave the Diver, there’s also a combat system with plenty of RPG elements. That said, it’s a slower turn-based/autobattler, which may turn some off (though, I find it more accessible than the hack-n-slash nature of Moonlighter).
Abzu is a great title for those who enjoy the ocean-delving experience of Dave the Diver. Where this game differentiates itself from Subnautica is that it offers a purely relaxing, atmospheric, and meditative gameplay experience as you dive and explore.
There are no survival elements. There’s no submarine management. There are no other demanding gameplay features. Your task is simply to immerse yourself and explore the vibrant underwater world. It’s a perfect game for those who enjoy the casual nature of Dave the Diver. That said, the depths of this world aren’t without their dangers as you descend further down into the abyss.
If you thought Bancho’s, Dave’s, and Cobra’s life of managing a restaurant was hard, get ready for the chaotic chef experience in Overcooked 2. Together with its prequel, Overcooked! All You Can Eat, this game has some of the cutest looking yet highly stressful restaurant management gameplay there is.
Built to be enjoyed as a couch co-op experience with your friends, Overcooked 2 will have you running around a kitchen chopping food, preparing dishes, washing plates, and everything else a busy restauranteur does. Yet while the heat of a burning kitchen may not suit some, the incredible feeling of accomplishment when the shift is over is quite satisfying.
Feeding customers one by one and seeing the next order pop-up as you send dishes out is what this game is all about. And all the while you’ll be coordinating, screaming, and having fun with your friends and family in co-op.
For those who aren’t fans of Hell’s Kitchen, Moonstone Island might be more your style. The game provides a similar casual feel to Dave the Diver as you explore a vast world and find exotic creatures.
After each adventure, you’ll return to your town and upgrade it in various ways. You’ll make friends, brew potions, and farm to your heart’s content. There’s even an entertaining creature collecting mechanic that uses a card-based combat system.
Last but not least is Stardew Valley, one of the most famous farming simulators ever. While it doesn’t take place on the ocean, SDV has many similarities with Dave the Diver. It’s a casual and relaxing game that combines RPG elements with job simulation as you engage with the townsfolk.
Furthermore, like in Dave the Diver, Stardew Valley is constantly introducing new mechanics and activities to keep you entertained. It also helps that the pixel art and soundtrack are exceptional. At the end of the day, it’s another title in which you can immerse yourself and relax while progressing your business. Or, in this case, your grandfather’s farm.
Those are 10 of the best indie games to play like Dave the Diver. Each entry has its own unique aesthetic and various similarities with Dave’s adventure. Whether you enjoy the restaurant managing aspect, ocean exploration, or just the casual vibe of the game, there are similar titles here for everyone. If case you are interested in tips and tricks for Dave the Diver, check out various guides on the game here.