SteamWorld Dig Review - A fistful of fun
Rusty, a cowboy steambot receives the deeds to a mine in the town of Tumbleton from his uncle Joe. Despite being puzzled as to why his uncle would choose him, Rusty makes his way to the western town. Upon arriving the ground beneath him collapses causing him to fall into the mines below. Trapped due to a cave in, Rusty finds a pickaxe allowing him to dig and find a way out and into the town. It is here that his journey begins. As he explores the mines, he begins to find strange and powerful equipment that gives him new abilities and powers. What is it that Joe found? Why is it, that Joe gave the deeds to Rusty? What are these strange items of power? The only way for Rusty to find out is to dig.
SteamWorld Dig is a 2D platform game where the player must mine for resources while uncovering the secrets that lay below. Developed and published by Image & Form the game originally released August 7th, 2013. It is now available across a large number of platforms including 3DS, Windows, Xbox One and Playstation 4. It is a truly phenomenal game with addictive gameplay, great atmosphere, and fun characters.
A Story of Discovery
The story of SteamWorld Dig revolves around the discovery of what secrets the mine holds. As the player digs deeper into the mine, they find different worlds, new and alien technology, and a lot of background story.
The main plot is about attempting to find what it is that Rusty's uncle Joe had found down in the mine and why he gave the mine to him. As you delve deeper into the mine, you come across new worlds, one being Old World.
Old World alludes to being the world that we know today. In this world players will find ruins of buildings, vehicles and even enemies which are extremely human-like. It suggests that most of the human race is gone, and all that is left are dimwitted mutants known as Shiners.
Old World gives the player insight as to why the world's population consists of steambots with no humans. The game contains some colorful, silly and entertaining characters. Rusty is the calm and smooth Clint Eastwood character. The town population is made up of the optimistic young girl, the flirtatious barmaid, the cranky handyman, the over the top cowboy dealer and the snobby "sophisticated" merchant. All the characters are typical stereotypes that you would find in a western. Their dialogue and personality fit perfectly with the theme of the game. The story and characters of SteamWorld Dig are certainly interesting and fun, giving a sense of a living breathing world.
Creating a living world is something that is not easy to pull off in a 2D platform game, but Image & Form do so brilliantly.
Getting Down and Dirty
The main gameplay of SteamWorld Dig is to mine, gathering various ores, minerals, and gems that the player can then cash in at the town on the surface. The deeper the player explores into the mines, the more valuable the resources they will find. As the player sells more resources to the town for money new upgrades, items, and shops become available.
Upgrades include better pickaxes, drills, armor and water tanks. Items include ladders, dynamite, and teleporters. Upgrading the pickaxe and drill allows for quicker digging and the ability to dig through tougher dirt and rock. Armor and water tanks increase your health and the amount of water you can store. Water is required to use certain equipment and upgrades, such as digging with the drill and using the Steam Jump ability.
The player gains new abilities and weapons by finding upgrade stations hidden within caves. Each of these caves has some form of puzzle that the player must solve before being able to reach the upgrade station. There are a total of three worlds to explore, each with their secret locations, enemies and environment.
Combat is fairly straightforward. The player attacks the enemy using the pickaxe, drill, or other weapons to the best of their ability. Each enemy has a set attack pattern, allowing the player to figure them out in order to defeat them. If the player dies, they are revived back on the surface and must pay a repair fee that is 50% of their current cash. If they were carrying any resources at the time, they can retrieve them by going back down into the mine.
SteamWorld Dig is one of the most fun and addictive platformers I have played in some time. The game quickly hooks the player from the start. The worlds are procedurally generated with each playthrough, making the layout of each different. This allows for multiple tries without it becoming stale. It is a game players will come back to time and time again.
Easy on the eyes and ears.
Some platform games can be extravagant and over the top in visuals, audio, and soundtracks. SteamWorld Dig, however, has a beautiful balance with each of these. The visuals are excellent, colorful and a delight to look at without blinding the player. The audio is well done, with realistic sound effects. The soundtrack is just beautiful and matches the overall theme of the game and captures the atmosphere of each of the worlds entirely.
The soundtrack brings each area of the game to life. The town of Tumbleton has that symbolic music theme to it that truly makes the player feel like they are in the wild west... The slow country style music, just like in the movies when the hero walks into a town. The same applies to each theme for each location; they fit in perfectly, making the player feel like they are there.
We need more Platform games like this!
It is a sheer delight to see a new and creative idea in the platform genre. As good as video games in the style of Super Mario, Sonic, and Donkey Kong are, there are already enough titles like them out there. SteamWorld Dig brings something new to the genre and does so with elegance.
It is a fun adventure full of character, mystery, and exceptional gameplay. It will keep you hooked from the moment you pick it up until you complete it. Players will get approximately six to seven hours of gameplay in their first playthrough. How long the game lasts depends entirely on the speed the player progresses. A thorough playthrough would certainly last a good six plus hours while more speedy playthroughs would last a few hours less.
It is a wonderful title and one that I cannot recommend highly enough. I can only hope that we see more platform games with such creativity, and new ideas as Image & Form have shown with SteamWorld Dig. We certainly do need more platform games like this.
SteamWorld Dig is available to buy on the Nintendo e-Shop for €8.99. For Windows users, it is available on Steam for the same price. For Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U, Linux and Mac users, the game is available to buy on their online distribution services.