by Image & Form
Reviewed by Philip "Pocket
Squirrel" Wesley (Deluxe Version Review 12/10/2015)
Size: 351 BLOCKS on the eShop. (Verified
by our Download Guide)
Save: SD Card Backup/3 Slots
Works with: 3DS Software
ESRB Rated: E10
Rating Descriptions: Fantasy Violence
Disclosure: This game was
purchased by the reviewer (and during a sale.)
second game in the SteamWorld Universe was a bit of a surprise
when it was released. I am a big fan of side scrolling games and the
game looked pretty interesting, so I decided to pick it up.
The world of SteamWorld is full of many tales and this
particular story begins in a sleepy little desert town called
Tumbleton. The population of three is about to have their sleepy world
changed forever as Rusty wanders in to take over his Uncle Joe's mine.
On his way to the mine, Rusty accidentally falls down a deep
hole into the deep underground. Upon recovering from his descent, Rusty
runs into a malevolent flower.. wait... wrong game. Actually, Rusty
runs into a young Steambot named Dorothy who informs him that Joe is a
bit less for the wear and that Rusty will need a something to get to
the switch to help them both escape the mine.
Upon finding his Uncle's "remains" and procuring a pickax, Rusty's real
deal of an adventure begins.
But is this cave story worth your time?
grabbing his pickax, Rusty sets to work digging and hacking away
at the tough ground around him. Essentially, this is how SteamWorld Dig
works. Rusty has a limited amount of life, health, and water to use
while digging through layers of dirt, rock, gems, and caves.
The basic structure of the game is to work toward places marked
on your map by digging toward those sections and picking up gems along
the way. You sell the gems in town to level up and upgrade your
abilities to allow you to go deeper into the mine. Along the way, you
find objects to help you and the town above grows as you explore the
mine. All of this leads up to a deeply buried and highly dangerous
secret revealed through a stream of discoveries inside the mine. The
mine is different in every play through, so the locations of gems and
enemies is always a surprise on replays. There are also items to allow
you to exit the mine when you need to, even a "self-destruct" button if
you find yourself somehow trapped between rocks and more rocks.
Although, most players will never have to use that option.
It reminds me a bit of games like Terraria, Minecraft, and
Boulder Dash. Boulder Dash was my favorite game on the Commodore 64, so
having that digging aspect combined with the constant tapping of the A
button to break through the merciless and unfeeling rock standing in my
way is an oddly nostalgia laden experience to me.
Liked: Exploring is pretty
fun, the progression through the game seems fairly natural...
Hated: ...except that,
about half way through the game, there are parts where you feel like
you are hunting for gems to progress because you will feel stuck in the
game. This can be brought about even earlier because of the "lose 50%
of your money" penalty that the game has when (or if) you die by
running out of health or being crushed by a rock. This could frustrate
Rambler getting rambling.
world inside this cave is fantastically detailed
and the 3D
effect works really nicely. You can see all sorts of weird details in
the backgrounds, the characters are all really well animated and some
of the physical changes that Rusty undergoes in his upgrades are
visible on him. Generally, this title looks really nice. The cut-scenes
and dynamic lighting are a great touch. The robot designs are more
dynamic and represent the "old timey" aesthetic of Steam Punk culture
nicely, while incorporating an "Old West" feel. Think of it as a
mechanical tribute to The Wild Wild
. I can certainly see a little bit of Robert Conrad in the
design of Rusty. It must be the dandy hat. In game dialogue is
accompanied by close up pictures of the various denizens of Tumbletown
and they are pretty stylize. Sadly, they are not animated because that
would be an awesome thing to see.
I crowdsourced these goggles!
Only cost me $3,000,000
The game also borrows from the side of Steampunk
distinctly attached to horror. I will not say how attached to that
genre this game is; as I would prefer to not spoil some interesting
story elements. Visually, breaking into a new layer is exciting and
uncovering the dark, dank, and dreary discoveries with in the mine is a
quite interesting sight to behold. Some people have described the
characters as being Burton-esque, but I hardly think that is a fair
comparison. The humans look like something Robert Crumb would create
and the robots look like something Jhonen Vasquez cooked up. I really
enjoy the way this game looks and I like the designs of the robots.
GET OFF MA'H LAWN!
Liked: The visual
style of this game is fantastic and there really is some great detail
and animation in this game. There are all sorts of environment
additions, like steam rising from Rusty, or the quick flashes of light
when cold pickax (or other digging implement) hits hard rocks.
Dig it now!
Hated: Sometimes, the
darkness can be a bit claustrophobic and the lowered visibility thanks
to the dynamic lighting means that a lot of that great detail will be
missed. (Upgrade your lamp.) The close up things are not animated, I
suppose? That always seems like a missed opportunity to me.
course there has to be a stylized "sound similar" version of the
classic "The Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone. It would feel wrong
to exclude such a staple in a "Western" style game. The rest of the
music would be a mix of slow industrial mixed with Western sounding
instruments. This makes the game sound a little like the rogue-like
game, Diablo. Which, to be fair, this game does share a bit of that
spirit. You dive into the mine, get loot, return to town, and then keep
exploring to find the horrors hidden below. It really is a bit like
Diablo and the music inside the mine lends itself to that same sense of
foreboding atmosphere. The music is done by Electroacoustic artist
Jonas Kjellberg and veteran game composer Mattias Hammarin and they do
a great job on creating some fairly moody music. Nothing that is really
a "toe tapper," but it will do the trick in setting you up with a
The sound effects let you know the difference between the rocks
when you hit them and can also be a clue when you hear some unholy
creature sparking to life as you move along. The characters in town
tend to also speak with a mixture of distinct whirs and ticks in place
of voice acting. Each of the digging items sounds differently and there
is some mumbling from the more unusual inhabitants of the deep.
Liked: The music and
sound effects fit the mood of the game and add a sense of depth to this
Hated: I really
have no complaints in the sound and music department. There is nothing
that is going to stand out as catchy, I suppose?
Dig is easy to control, but it has a bit of a learning curve
that may be off putting to younger or less focused players. The game
does offer a decent amount of challenge and there is a bit of strategy
to how you go about removing gems and other items from the mine. The
map on the bottom is easy to read and tells you how many hits the
ground in each layer requires from your digging tools. Keeping track of
goals and where you are on the map is pretty easy to do. There is no
support for the extra buttons on the New 3DS units or for the Circle
Pad Pro, but this game works fine without the extra buttons. The hit
box for some of the enemies is a bit limited and you will find that you
get injured when attacking things that attack you with some of your
weapons. The upgrades make sense and work well for helping Rusty
traverse the underground world.
Aside from a little bit of pacing slowdown in the middle of the
game and a bit of balance issues with penalties, this is a rather solid
package. It has a strong central dungeon/mine and an interesting story
with unique characters. The only thing I think the game could really
need is a "difficulty" slider that reduces the penalty for dying and
changes the prices for some items to make it more accessible to a wider
audience. When you die, you lose half of your money, which makes it
harder to buy the updates that Rusty needs to progress further in the
mine. While you can still go and retrieve the loot that you dropped,
the money you had is cut in half. This could be a source of frustration
with some game players.
Liked: A well made
and compelling game with easy to learn play control and an interesting
combination of gameplay elements.
Hated: It needs a
difficulty slider that decreases or increases the penalty for dying.
Having beaten the game a few times, I would love an "iron man" mode
that would just make you start at the beginning of the game when you
died. Maybe make that a special mode for the game that unlocks once you
beat the game once? It is also a little bit short, which is why
difficulty options would increase the replayability of the game.
(Free Ideas For Game Designers!)
difficulty slider to make the game easier or harder would be a
nice addition. Also, the ability to collect and wear a variety of hats
would be pretty cool. Just saying that would be an awesome thing to add
in some future version of this game.
(Recommended If You Like...)
like Terraria, Metroid 2 (specifically because of the
Dig is a truly unique game with an interesting premise and solid
execution. While it may be a bit unforgiving to some players, it is
well worth the time investment to more experienced gamers or people who
want to try a fairly unique take on platforming exploration games. I
think that you should probably pick this one up if you are interested
in exploration heavy games with a bit of SteamPunk flair.
I guess you could say that I DIG it a lot.
Bury me with my puns.
I regret nothing.
Play Control/Game Design: ****
Star Total: 60
Personal Opinion Merit: 21%
Final Score: 81%
Letter Grade: A