My lantern’s light glows more dim. Below me I see the twinkle of precious stones just waiting for my pickaxe to crack through. I have one bar of health left and the exit to the mine is so far up I cant even remember where it is. Do I go for the loot and try to get out with no light? Or do I play it safe and shoot for the exit, loot-less, but with light on my side? These are the mini gambles that are riddled through SteamWorld Dig that truly make this 2D side-scroller a gem all on its own
The story follows our main character Rusty, a steam robot who travels to the lonely town of Tumbleton. His purpose there is to explore the mysterious mine after the deed was left to him after his uncle’s disappearance. The fellow robot townspeople believe there is much more than meets the eye down there, and your job is to help uncover its secrets.
SteamWorld Dig’s gameplay is a perfect blend of what you want from a 2D side scroller splashed with a fresh coat of modern paint. It centers around Rusty trying to pick axe his way to the bottom of the loot filled mine. The mine is broken up into three thematic SNES-style levels. The first being a rocky, dirt, gravel, layered area, to a toxic, green slime dripping, bio hazards inspired zone, and finally to the circuit embedded, machine-like industrialized zone. Each one visually pleasing with crisp colors and extremely engaging to platform through. Simply put, Steamworld Dig pleases the eye graphically.
Along the way down, you come across gems, new gadgets, and abilities hidden like shiny prizes in a cereal box. Each gadget and ability are excellent additions to Rusty’s arsenal. The valuable stones can be brought back up to the surface and sold to vendors residing in the overworld style Tumbleton. These same vendors can also upgrade your new gadgets and abilities making you all that more destructive.
The control mechanics in SteamWorld Dig are spot on. Platforming with Rusty is very tight and responsive. There were never any controller bashing moments. Maneuvering yourself in and out of sticky situations while heading to the surface with precious loot felt intuitive and smooth. Replaying previous zones with new weaponry and upgrades felt like a breeze, and made me want to find all the loot my steam drill could power through.
The soundtrack accompanied behind Rusty’s adeventure makes you feel like a wild west hero. Very reminiscent of old Clint Eastwood cowboy flicks, it really sets the tone of this deserted tale. One of the few downfalls in SteamWorld Dig is in enemy variation. For the most part you encounter every type of mine dwelling foe by the end of the first level. It would have been nice to have seen some new breed of enemy, or new way to challenge the player to defeat them. Its worth noting as well that SteamWorld Dig is shockingly short. With only three levels, my play time had me clocking in at about 4 hours before watching the credits roll. With such a rich concept and unique approach, it would have been nice to see Rusty’s story a bit more fleshed out. But, these are peanuts in the grand scheme of this joyful gem.
SteamWorld Dig is an excellent game with a great concept matched with great gameplay. A highly recommended adventure that incorporates all the great RPG/overworld elements of the 2D platformers of yesteryear.
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