SteamWorld Dig
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

SteamWorld Dig makes the transition from 3DS to PC flawlessly and loses none of its addictive charm along the way. Carving out your own mining tunnels while avoiding or killing the enemies is loads of fun and there is always one more upgrade or power to tempt you back.

Gameplay: Polished, entertaining and incredibly addictive.

Graphics: High definition 2D.

Sound: Some western flavored tunes and spot on sound effects

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SteamWorld Dig

Developer: Image&Form | Publisher: Image&Form | Release Date: 2013 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Rusty the steambot never considered himself a miner, but when his uncle Joe sends him the claim to a mine near the town of Tumbleton he sets out to investigate. Rusty discovers that his uncle has shuffled his robotic coil and that it is up to him to restore the mining town to its former glory. Some nasty critters have invaded the mines, but the lure of treasure and mystery is too much for Rusty to resist.

Already a big hit on the Nintendo 3DS, SteamWorld Dig has made the leap to PC and pulled off the transition with style. If I didn’t know that this game originated on 3DS I would have never guessed it by looking at the high definition 2D graphics. The Steampunk meets Western world idea have been done before, but the characters and creatures in this game packs so much charm that it is hard not to get sucked in.

Your goals in the game are quite simple, but without wanting to resort to puns, there is a lot more depth than you might think. You basically dig through the underground world to mine all kinds of minerals and then return to town to convert your spoils into cash. The cash can then be used to purchase items and upgrades which makes your next trip a bit easier. As you exchange more minerals in town your level increases, which unlocks new goods at the shops. At higher levels the town also begins to prosper and new merchants start setting up shop. There are different types of rock and dirt to tunnel through so your initial pick axe doesn’t cut it for long. Upgrading your equipment enables you to dig deeper and find more precious minerals that bring in more cash. It might sound like a grind, but trust me while you are playing tedium will be the furthest thing from your mind.

Upgrading your equipment will get you far, but in true Metroid fashion, some areas are only accessible with new abilities. As you explore the caves and caverns you encounter doors that lead to separate puzzle areas. Complete these and Rusty is rewarded with a brand new power such as the ability to double-jump or exchange your pick axe for a drill. The steampunk theme of the game means that most of your special abilities require some water to use. This means that you’ll have to find underground pools to refill your tanks if Rusty runs dry.

Your foes range from trilobites and turtles to all manner of traps such as spike pits, acid pools and eventually even laser turrets. You’ll also run into some troglodytes which are the last remnants of the human civilization. Your own actions such as tunneling underneath a big boulder can also lead to sudden death if you are not careful. The game is challenging without being too hard and if Rusty dies, he respawns back in town. Your penalty is half the cash you were carrying upon death and whatever minerals were in your backpack. The minerals can be retrieved by returning to the spot where you died, but the cash is gone for good. You also have the option to self-destruct if you find yourself in a tight spot without the means to escape.

Rusty is quite a nimble character, but thankfully the controls are very responsive. I played the game using an Xbox 360 controller and had no problem pulling off any of the moves. Rusty can only drill in four directions and while standing on solid ground, but items such as dynamite and a particular special ability make the job a bit easier later on. There is no crafting in the game, but you still need to keep track of resources. Water is used to power your abilities while you need to monitor your light source to prevent the darkness from closing in. Shops also sell ladders and lanterns which are useful for exploring the depths, but you can only carry limited quantities. Enemies drop some resources, but you will have to return to town periodically to empty your backpack of minerals and stock up on supplies. Don’t worry about having the make the whole trek back up and down each time as teleporters shorten the journey.

The game features some nice western sounding tunes and spot on sound effects. There is no voice acting and instead, the robots all have their own distinctive mechanical sounding “voices” when they speak. SteamWorld Dig also has a great sense of humor and it is always worth chatting to the merchants in town for a laugh.

Image & Form clearly spent some time polishing up this title for its PC release and it shows. The visuals look great in high definition and the framerate remains rock solid throughout. About the only complaint I have is that there is only one (very well done) boss encounter and the entire game can be completed in about three hours. There are some Steam achievements that add a bit of longevity and the game is addictive enough that you’ll find yourself returning even after the credits have rolled to see what you missed. I actually started the game up  again after completing it to take a few screenshots for the review and what was supposed to take a few minutes turned into another hour as the game sucked me back in. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.

*Review originally published December 2013.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP (or newer)
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1-compatible, 384 MB video memory, framebuffer object support
  • Hard Drive: 193 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL-compatible
  • Additional Notes: You may need to update your graphics drivers for OpenGL 2.1 support.
  • OS: 10.7
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1-compatible, 384 MB video memory, framebuffer object support
  • Hard Drive: 120 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL-compatible
  • Additional Notes: You may need to update your graphics drivers for OpenGL 2.1 support.
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1-compatible, 384 MB video memory, framebuffer object support
  • Hard Drive: 80 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL-compatible
  • Additional Notes: You may need to update your graphics drivers for OpenGL 2.1 support.

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