Deep Dive Review
In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, the game Deep Dive doesn’t really need a deep dive review. It’s a quick, light, push-your-luck game which takes a minute to teach and fifteen minutes to play. Can’t Stop with Penguins? Not quite, but certainly some of that feeling spills over.
Apparently, the collective noun for penguins is a colony. So in Deep Dive, you control a small colony of penguins. Your goal is to dive into icy waters and return with some tasty submarine morsels. The deeper you go, the tastier (read: more points) the food is worth. However, lurking in the depths there are predators like seals and sharks, and they want nothing more than to p-p-p-p-pickup a penguin.
As if I wasn’t going to get that in there. UK people of a certain age – you’re welcome.
Where you from, you set-sy thing?
In a slight twist from the usual push-your-luck fare, Deep Dive adds set-collection to the mix. It’s not enough to just return with marine munchies. Instead, you want to collect sets of the different colours – pink, green and yellow. If you collect a set, you get the full points from each of the tiles at the end of the game. Any incomplete sets give you half points, rounded down, as if to insult you.
As with games like Can’t Stop, strategy is only a light touch in Deep Dive. Some of it is obvious, like for example prioritising pink tiles when you’ve got lots of yellow and green, but there are some other nice touches in there.
Picking up a rock tile, should you flip one over, can be super handy. In a Did You Know? moment, did you know that penguins eat rocks? A belly full of pebbles – or gastroliths as they’re known – helps a penguin dive deeper. Rocks in Deep Dive do the same thing. Use one at the start of your turn and instead of working your way down through the layers, like eating a big, wet trifle, you can choose to start anywhere. Very handy for trying to nab tiles from the bottom layers.
If you’re worried about penguins being eaten by the predators, then worry not. Your penguins don’t get munched – they’re merely cornered and trapped. Should all three of yours be trapped, you retrieve them all. Trapped Pingus actually act in your favour, because a layer with a trapped one in can just be skipped over. There are a lot of clever little touches in the game which mean that even potentially negative events have some kind of silver lining.
Deep Dive is extremely cute, and a lot of fun. There’s no denying that it’s very light, and so for most of my readers, it’s a game which will go in your bag as filler material. Sat around a table in a pub, or at a cafe waiting for a train – it’s perfect for these kinds of situations. Will I still be playing it in a couple of years’ time? Time will tell.
It’s a good job that the different depths of water tiles also have a number of dots on the back to tell you which level they belong to because even with my decent eyesight, some of the darker tiles are really hard to tell apart. Other than that, I’ve no complaints about the components at all. The little penguin meeples are to die for.
It doesn’t quite have the same immediate draw that makes me want to play again, and again, like when a game of Can’t Stop ends, but I think some of that is down to the setup time. Don’t get me wrong, it only takes a few minutes, but you really do need to swap out the tiles each time and shuffle new ones into the game, otherwise, you very quickly learn how many predators are on which level, for example. Other than that, Deep Dive is great. Quick, fast, cute, and yours for less than twenty quid. Bargain.
Review copy kindly provided by Alderac Entertainment Group. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more like this, consider supporting the site by joining my supporters’ membership at either Patreon or Ko-fi. It starts from £1 per month, offers member benefits, and lets me know you’re enjoying what I’m doing.
Deep Dive (2023)
Design: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Publisher: Flatout Games
Art: Dylan Mangini
Playing time: 15-10 mins