Hopefully this doesn't sound overdramatic but cutscenes are a plague on videogames and developers who put cutscenes in their games should go to federal prison. Sentencing guidelines: 10 days served for every one minute of cutscenes in a game.
When I sit down to play a game I just want to play. Push buttons. Press keys. Move a mouse. If I wanted to watch a movie, I've got a TV in the other room and free trials to six different streaming services. Why am I being punished just because Kojima didn't get into film school? Why do I have to helplessly watch my competent character turn into a clueless idiots? It's infuriating!
Sure, cutscenes can provide critical information or plot development, but they don't have to be the first resort. The original Half-Life proved you can have a game absolutely packed with story and use zero traditional cutscenes—why don't more developers try that instead of filling a game with so many cinematics that they run twice as long as Game of Thrones?
However. My crusade against cutscenes hit a major snag when I began playing Dave the Diver last week, a fishing and restaurant management game. I was already singing the game's praises after a mere three hours, and I'm now 20 hours in, seemingly nowhere near finished, and still utterly in love with it. And I must grudgingly admit that a lot of that love is for Dave the Diver's cutscenes.
They're not only great, I actually wish… sorry, this is hard for me to say. I wish there were more of them. I wish Dave the Diver had more cutscenes!
Like the rest of Dave the Diver, the cutscenes are impeccably animated, but it's the powerful, over-the-top anime vibes of these scenes that really sell them. It's especially delightful that most of the cutscenes are reserved for the most low-stakes moments in the game.
In the cutscene above, all I'm doing is asking my chef to enhance a recipe. That means improving a dish so it'll taste a little better and sell for a couple bucks more. Cue the intense drama of making a slight improvement to a plate of tuna. It's utterly delightful, and it's just one of several that result from asking the chef to perform the basic requirements of his job.
Occasionally in Dave the Diver, a VIP customer will come into the restaurant and ask for a specific meal. That usually means a few days of diving or farming to gather specific ingredients for the chef to prepare. It's all worth it when you serve them the dish they asked for. Just as the chef becomes an anime hero in the kitchen, the customers have a utterly transcendent dining experience, and it's a joy to watch.
And you know another great thing about these cutscenes? They're short. At most they last a few seconds, and even the other cutscenes that are there to move the story along and provide useful information are brief, concise, and don't leave me impatiently fuming and long-pressing a button just to skip past them.
Honestly, I could fill this page with gif after gif, not just of cutscenes from the restaurant management portion of the game but from the weapon crafting app you use, from the diving and exploration portion of the game, from the surprising boss fight reveals, and other exquisite little moments that come up from time to time.
But these cutscenes are so good I don't want to spoil too many of them: they're one of the best parts of what is already a fantastic game. You can go discover them for yourself: Dave the Diver is 10% off on Steam until July 13.
(To all the other game developers out there, pretend you didn't hear any of that. No more cutscenes!)