Aug 11, 2023 4 min read

Dave the Diver Review - Performance & Best Settings for Steam Deck

Sushi bar management meets underwater adventures in Dave the Diver — here's a look at how it performs on the Steam Deck.

Dave the Diver on Steam Deck

Sushi bar management meets underwater adventures in Dave the Diver — here's a look at how it performs on the Steam Deck.

Indie games really are a blessing — often delivering a welcome boost of creativity, inventiveness and bold ideas, that often gets lost in bigger titles that need to target the broadest audience possible.

Once such recent indie delight is Dave the Diver — a real digital labour of love, and one that has scuppered my plans to fix my broken sleep schedule.

DAVE THE DIVER is a casual, singleplayer adventure RPG featuring deep-sea exploration and fishing during the day and sushi restaurant management at night. Join Dave and his quirky friends as they seek to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Blue Hole.

If you're looking to get the best out of this sim on Steam Deck then you're in the right place — Dave the Diver is a wild mix of ocean exploration meets sushi bar management sim. It offers up a refreshing blend of multiple niche genres, resulting in a meticulously crafted 2D adventure all about a diver suddenly confronted with deep sea mysteries and the challenge of running a sushi bar. It's definitely worth your money — but let's get to how it fares on the Steam Deck.

Into the Blue

When you start the game for the first time, it defaults to the highest possible native resolution — but in 16:9. This means on Steam Deck you’ll get 1280x720 instead of 800p because, as of right now, the game does not support the Deck's 16:10 aspect ratio. Currently there's nothing we can do about this. Surprisingly, there aren't many options to alter the game's performance available in-game either; with resolution and window mode being the only ones.

Out of the box, the game fares pretty well on the Steam Deck (in fact it's marked as Steam Deck Verified): Above sea level, we're seeing a perfectly locked 60 FPS in the sushi restaurant, the boat, and every menu outside of loading screens. The moment Dave's elegantly masculine body hits the water surface of the mysterious Blue Hole, though, things change.

Due to more detailed and less static environments, as well as 3D geometry, the frame rate can dip into the low 50s. On rare occasions, it can even go as low as 48FPS. It would be easy to set both the refresh and frame rate to 40, but this somehow messes with animations and degrades the overall visual fluidity quite a bit. On top of that, Dave the Diver runs on the Unity Engine, which often leverages an animation rate of 50FPS - so naturally, you’ll get a better result by sticking to 50FPS at 50Hz. Set the TDP to something between 10 and 12 Watts, and you’ll also save some Steam Deck battery juice.

Unfortunately, there are two additional nitpicks: Due to the nature of portrait-based displays of many handhelds, such as Steam Deck, you need to make sure to set the game to 'fullscreen' at all times. Only then does V-Sync kick in to prevent screen tearing, which can be especially annoying in games with a mix of 2D and 3D elements such as this. 

On top of that, Dave the Diver seems to be the perfect contender for on-and-off-play sessions on Deck, but waking the device from sleep sometimes results in audio issues. Restarting the game helps.

Dave the Diver Steam Deck Best Settings

and the Overkill bonus tip...

Leverage the settings shown below, and you’ll be all set for Dave’s addictively weird adventures. But there's more...

In-Game Settings
Resolution 1280x720
Window Mode Fullscreen
Quick Action Menu
Frame Rate Limit 50FPS
Refresh Rate 50Hz
TDP Limit 10 - 12W

Since we’re overkill, I couldn’t sleep at ease when I’ve let you jump into the cold water without topping the settings with a neat bonus tip.

As you might already know, Valve blessed SteamOS with an extensive input management feature. Custom circle menus with animated icons for both trackpads? Turbo functions with granular, milliseconds-precise patterns? You name it. The latter might come in handy for your latest nerdy, but wholesome endeavour.

Dave the Diver comes with many short quick time events (short QTEs), which can be cumbersome. Why wear down that neat new skin you just bought because of our guide, right? Thankfully, I don't need to tell you the exact steps on how to get that thumbstick-shaky party going because of another neat Deck feature: Community Controller Layouts.

While in-game, press the STEAM button, open the controller settings of Dave the Diver, open the Layouts submenu, and head into the COMMUNITY LAYOUTS. There, simply pick the top one called 'Diver Dan w/ Rear Macros'. Now just hit X to apply it and jump back into the game. It’s that simple.

You have now successfully assigned three of the four back buttons to turbo macros, which will save you a ton of headaches and potential carpal tunnel syndrome when facing quick time events in Dave the Diver on Steam Deck. Refer to the list below:

L4 (upper left back button)

Left stick left & right shake

L5 (lower left back button)

Left stick circular rotation

R4 (upper right back button)

A button spam

If you want to see a full-blown Steam Input guide covering the most helpful and advanced tricks to maximize your input acrobatics on Deck, let us know in the comments down below.

..and now you're ready to enjoy that one game everyone is talking about right now! No, I'm not referring to Baldur's Gate 3 or Battle Bit Remastered (but that one is also on the list) — make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to not miss out on any of our future guides!

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