Throwback: Steamworld Dig (Originally Posted July 3, 2014)

Steamworld Dig. A game I hadn't heard of until the Steam Summer sale and I don't think too many people have either. No one on my friends list owns it and I've never seen anything about it before. Man is that a crime; I REALLY dig this game.

On the surface it looks like a modernized version of Dig Dug, down to dropping rocks on the heads of your enemies.

But as you dig deeper you find a game that's more Megaman than Dig Dug, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

You start the game off falling through a hole in the ground on your way to the mining claim your uncle has given you. You meet a girl-bot named Dorothy down in the mine who informs you that your uncle is dead...right over there. Hey, why don't you go take the pickaxe from his corpse and start up the mining operation again? That sound good? Good.

The game starts off quite basic. Head down, dig up ore and gems, head back up, sell it, head back down. Slowly you'll build up money (and thus levels) and buy upgrades like a larger backpack, armor, picks, lanterns and the like.

 

Light becomes an issue after you start getting deeper. The sunlight you build up in your body while on the surface eventually runs out and you have to head back up to be able to see if you aren't near a lantern, so stocking up on them early on is useful, but after getting your furnace upgraded they're completely unneeded.

 

Once you're deep enough and fight your way passed the trilobites and skeletal turtle missile launcher things, you'll start to find caves. Exploring these and completing the platforming puzzles yield Megaman X-like upgrades. This is when the game picks up and changes completely. You'll continue to dig deeper, finding more upgrades and learning more about the world you're in. 

Chipping away at the story, you learn that your uncle used to spend weeks down in the mines alone, sometimes coming back to town with strange new inventions and machines that didn't use steam for power. 

As you level and progress, bringing more money to the town, residents start coming back, offering you new shops to buy upgrades and items from.

Digging into the Old World really get's to the mantle of the game, showing you just why there's a few steam powered robots on the surface of a barren world, and hidden beneath that is an even darker secret.

At its core, this game is an enjoyable mashup of digging, platforming and Megaman-esque mechanics. "But Gabby, what about the sound and graphics?"

Well, the game is gorgeous. The art style fits the world perfectly, the animations are pretty and for a barren wasteland it's brightly coloured and vibrant. Breaking through dirt, rocks and ore are all satisfying. The backgrounds give the world depth and add to the creepiness as you go deeper. The music is quite fitting, going from old western to creepy the deeper you get. The sounds of enemies and traps are loud and distinct so you know what's coming.

The controls work just fine with a keyboard (I don't own a 360 pad). The times I've died have been completely my fault and haven't felt like the result of badly designed or sloppy controls.

 

As we break through the other side of this review I just want to say that this game is incredibly rad and you should definitely pick it up. It's not long (I beat it in just about 3 hours) and I'm not entirely sure about the replayability, but if you're looking for a solid game to kill some time, there aren't many that are better.

Steamworld Dig is available on Steam for $9.99 (or your regional equivalent). It's also available on the DS eShop, PS4 and PS Vita.