Hey everyone! Welcome to another edition of Hidden Gems, where I look for games that I feel haven’t quite received the love they may deserve in an effort to help players discover something fresh and fun! This week I present to you, Dive from designers Romain Caterdjian & Anthony Perone with art design by Alexandre Bonvalot.
Dive is a 2-4 player programming and push your luck game with a highly thematic twist. Players take on the roles of divers attempting to dive for their village’s sacred stone, a rite of passage for the youths of the island of Windbark. Where Dive stands out is in the unique way the designers have created a true sense of depth to the game.
Transparent sheets depicting the various denizens of the deep are used to portray the depths of the ocean by being stacked on top of one another. Players then program their moves secretly on their player board, trying to perceive at which depth the different creatures are. Guessing correctly could mean diving deeper, bringing them closer to the reward they seek, while an error could result in a shark coming between themselves and the stone and ending their dive prematurely.
The transparent cards do a fantastic job of imitating the briny ocean waters; the further down creatures are, the murkier the plastic layers begin to look, creating an immersive (pun intended) experience and making it more difficult to dive too deeply as one layer begins to look like another. The gameplay is simple but effective and each session takes only 20 to 30 minutes. The artwork and component quality is excellent and the box’s insert allows you to store everything away quickly and cleanly.
It’s great to see game designers experimenting with different materials and components to create unique new play experiences and developing emergent mechanics that can change how games are played. As board games have evolved, so too have creators had to adapt to find innovative ways to make their games stand out without resorting to straight up gimmicks. What stops Dive from falling into that trap is how perfectly this particular ‘gimmick’ fits the game’s theme. I can’t think of another way the designers could have achieved what they needed to here by using standard cards or traditional game systems.
Dive does what it sets out to achieve, providing an original, fun and evocative gameplay experience that’s uncomplicated and intuitive. Most players will immediately understand what’s expected and be able to grasp the ins and outs of the game within a few minutes. A great choice for a conversation piece on game night or to fill time between larger games. Though I know of larger games that still lack Dive’s depth.
That’s all for now, be sure to check back for another Hidden Gem next week. If you know of any games you think deserve their moment in the sun, feel free to comment below, or share your thoughts over on the Game Kings Gamers page. Until next time, remember, you’re always only one game away from having enough!