Tuesday, March 31, 2020

REVIEW: SteamWorld Dig 2

I can't get enough SteamWorld. It appeared on my computer one day, introduced me to my favorite band, and invited me into a whole universe of A+ worldbuilding and game design. My latest game in the series is the sequel to Image & Form's inaugural robot spelunker game - and it might be their best yet. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of SteamWorld Dig 2 courtesy of Thunderful Games.
Opinions are my own.

SteamWorld Dig 2 takes you on a platform mining adventure forged in Metroidvania flames. When an old trading town is struck by mysterious earthquakes, it’s up to a lone steambot and her unlikely companion to uncover what trembling terrors lie beneath.

Picking up some time after the first game, SteamWorld Dig 2 follows Dorothy on her quest to find out what happened to Rusty after his battle with Vectron. Her journey takes her to a big city above another deep and mysterious cave - ready to dig.

SteamWorld Dig 2 is the best kind of video game sequel. It takes everything from the original and makes it objectively better in every other way. Not once while playing did I think, "Oh, I preferred how this was done in the last game." Not once ever.
The world is more of a Metroidvania set up, going back and forth between a few major areas instead of descending deeper and deeper in a straight drop. And the areas are a lot more diverse this time around. More or less the same types of areas from the first game return, with the addition of a lava area and a mystical underground forest.

While the first game was really light on story - "Where is my uncle? Oh look, aliens." - this one adds a huge chunk of lore to the SteamWorld universe. Linking the first SteamWorld Dig game to SteamWorld Heist, SteamWorld Dig 2 is set five minutes before the apocalypse and really sheds some light on what happened to humanity and Planet Earth.

The game is also a bit more involved than the previous entry. With all of the set up and cutscenes I don't even think I dug up an ore for the first hour. There's a decent amount of time spent exploring the mines and playing with different puzzle mechanics - as with the first game, the level designers were having a lot of fun creating the caves sprinkled throughout the mine.

That's not to say the digging takes a back seat in the sequel. All of the tools Rusty had at his disposal in the first game are returned or replaced. Instead of the drill, there's a jackhammer. Instead of dynamite, there's pressure bombs. Instead of a super jump there is a GOD DAMNED JETPACK! There's even a hookshot for some added Spider-Maning through the mines.

The new tools and a more robust upgrade system make digging a hell of a lot of fun. In addition to normal ores you can sell, there's a large number of unique artifacts that can be collected to earn special upgrades. The updated inventory system allows for artifacts and ores to feature the humorous SteamWorld Heist was known for.

Taking everything from the original and making it better in every way, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a rewarding experience for fans of the series and newcomers just looking to dig in a cool world. The graphics use an almost 2.5D art style and the controls are lickity smooth. I beat the game in about 15 hours - but I'm already looking to head back in for another go.

SteamWorld Dig 2 is available on pretty much everything. Click here to pick it up on PS4, or click here to check it out on the Nintendo Switch.