Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (played), Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PS4, PS Vita
Released: September 22, 2017
Released back in 2013, the original SteamWorld Dig was ported to pretty much every console under the sun. The game featured some excellent 2D platforming mixed with a mining mechanic, RPG elements, and procedurally-generated levels. With the release of SteamWorld Dig 2, Swedish developer Image and Form have once again created a winning formula that is nearly impossible to put down.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is a steampunk western-themed game that has you plunging deep into the earth, mining precious gems to then sell for profit on the surface. Along the way, you’ll encounter robot cowboys, mutants and some very strange environments. The main character, Dorothy, rolls into town in search of the previous game’s protagonist Rusty. While the story isn’t the game’s strongest aspect, the search for Rusty is compelling enough to keep you engaged throughout the campaign.
SteamWorld Dig 2’s graphics and art style are something to behold. The developers have crafted some impressive environments with some gorgeous lighting effects, even hundreds of feet underground there is still plenty of eye candy. The sound design is competent and is highlighted by a theme track that will stick in your head and have you nodding to the beat.
SteamWorld Dig 2’s gameplay improves on the first game’s in nearly every aspect. This time around the developers have ditched the procedurally-generated levels in favor of some fantastically crafted ones. The game doubles down on the RPG elements, and its fantastic upgrade system allows the player to customize their character’s abilities based on their preferred style of play. The game features a number of new attacks and abilities that keep the game fresh throughout the 8-12 hour campaign. The upgrade system revolves around cashing in your jewels that you find through mining and purchasing the desired upgrade which allow you dig faster, upgrade physical attacks, and eventually attain the power of flight. Through the game’s excellent implementation of a fast travel system, you are able to easily transport back to sections of the map to mine for more gems or re-attempt a particularly challenging puzzle.
In this way, the game is Metroid-like in its progression system where a previously unbeatable puzzle or enemy is made a much easier task by an upgrade or addition of a key weapon or ability. The puzzles are cleverly designed and challenging without reaching the point of frustration. After completing the story in 11 hours with a 40% completion rate, I felt compelled to go back and finish all of the puzzles and collect all of the hidden items, even as write this review I am craving another playthrough.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is a game that needs to be experienced, plain and simple. If you’re a fan of platformers like Metroid or resource management games like Minecraft, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a must-play. The game lends itself very well to a portable platform like the Nintendo Switch (the version I played for review) due to its ability to break down into segmented goals like completing a quick puzzle or mining jewels to get to the next upgrade. However, I often found that firing up the game for a quick ten minute play session would turn into two hours of neglecting my wife and kids. That’s the biggest testament to SteamWorld Dig 2’s quality: the inability to actually put the game down. In a year that may go down as one of the best in gaming history, SteamWorld Dig 2 stands among the best releases thus far, which is really saying something. Don’t let this one pass you by.