Friday, November 29, 2019

REVIEW: SteamWorld Dig

We moved across the country this past summer and found ourselves without much to do when the movers temporarily lost all of our stuff, including most of our video game stuff. This was when I discovered SteamWorld Heist in my Steam library despite no memory of ever buying it or getting a key from someone. Nonetheless, I loved it! So decided to check out Image & Form's first SteamWorld game, a mining adventure about a little steambot named Rusty.

SteamWorld Dig is a platform mining adventure with strong Metroidvanian influences. Dig your way through the old earth, gaining riches while uncovering the ancient threat that lurks below…

While SteamWorld Heist took gunslinging steambots to the the vast and free frontier of deep space, SteamWorld Dig is grounded on earth in a small town in the western wasteland. Players take control of a steambot named Rusty who just inherited his uncle's mine. Rusty is given very little information, very little to work with, and a very simple goal: explore the mines.

Despite how it may seem at first glance, SteamWorld Dig is not a crafting game like Minecraft or Terraria. Players descend deep into the mine and uncover mysterious secrets left behind by the now extinct human race - and by something even older.

The only materials you uncover down in the mines are ores that are immediately traded in when you return to town. Money from ore sales is then used to purchase tools and upgrades to Rusty's gear or even his own body.

The mines and upgrades are not, however, limitless. There is a bottom to the mines and an end to the story, and rocks you destroy do not respawn so resources are limited. If you spend too much money on ladders and dynamite you may be unable to purchase upgrades.

The mine isn't a repetitive drop through stones and ores. The three main levels of the mine each have their own unique obstacles and enemies that keep you on your toes throughout the game, getting more dangerous the deeper you go.

Scattered throughout the mine are several caves that contain puzzles that test your problem-solving skills. You can retry the cave right after you die and if you make it to the end you'll be rewarded with a special upgrade that completely changes the way you dig, encouraging you to return to previous levels of the mine to uncover ore you may have missed or were unable to claim.

SteamWorld Dig boasts a beautiful art style. No two corners of the mine look the same. Instead of an endless void of dark grays and browns, the mine is a vibrant landscape filled with some gorgeous graphics and background art.

While there weren't many places to inject some humor, SteamWorld Dig is still a hilarious game. A lot of the ores are given fun names like Chocolat and Dolomite. Many of the puzzles are bizarrely creative. There's even a hidden Mario level!

If you're looking for a new platformer, SteamWorld Dig offers simple and fun gameplay that keeps changing the deeper you get into it. Digging up every secret hidden within the mines will take you about twelve hours, but I've already replayed it once so it's more than worth the $9.99 price tag.

SteamWorld Dig is available on Steam, the Nintendo Switch eShop, and on the PS4 bundled here with SteamWorld Heist. Click here to check out my review of SteamWorld Heist.