Review: SteamWorld Dig (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review: SteamWorld Dig (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

Time to dig in once again.

SteamWorld Dig came out of nowhere on the Nintendo 3DS back in the summer of 2013. The excellent gameplay, cool western setting and mystery helped propel the game to the top of 3DS game lists all across the internet. From launch up until now, SteamWorld Dig has been released on numerous platforms giving even more gamers a chance to check out Image & Form’s platformer. Given the success of the sequel SteamWorld Dig 2 on the Nintendo Switch in September 2017, it makes sense that this game would again resurface on Nintendo’s new platform.

In SteamWorld Dig, players take control of Rusty, a cowboy hat wearing steam powered robot, as he receives a deed for a mine that his uncle Joe left him. Minutes into the game, players find old uncle Joe scrapped in the mine but are left with no idea what happened. Through digging deeper into the mine, players guide Rusty on his quest to see what mysteries lie in the depths and attempt to find out what happened to Joe.

The controls are extremely fluid and responsive. Right off the bat, Rusty’s quick movement and ability to wall jump continuously prove helpful throughout the entirety of the game. As the title suggests, digging is at the crux of the experience here. Initially armed with just a pickaxe, players can guide Rusty to effortlessly dig through the environment around him on his journey deeper into the mine. A smart upgrade system rewards players for cashing in on precious metals found in the dirt. Upgrading the pickaxe as well as unlocking other ways to dig, health upgrades and steam powered moves are just a few of the things that you can obtain along the journey.

While the exploration aspect is the mainstay of the experience, there are enemies to take out along the way. This is the only part of the game that I have an issue with. Rusty isn’t equipped to be a warrior, but he still has just enough tools to dispense of the baddies that he comes across. This is mostly due to the short range of  attacks that Rusty has for the majority of the game. Upgrades do make enemy combat easier later in the game, and to the credit of developer Image & Form, once you kill an enemy, they are gone for good (with a few exceptions).

Visually, Dig is a sharp looking game. There are three sections to the mines which all look and feel aesthetically different from one another. In a game where there’s a possibility of gamers getting burned out on the mining aspect, the variation in visuals help keep things fresh. Character sprites from Rusty, to NPCs to enemies all look fantastic and animate fluidly. The sound design is also delightful and fits perfectly with the Old-Western aesthetic. On top of all of this, the game supports a variety of language options, including Japanese (although the Switch version has yet to release in Japan as of the time of writing).

SteamWorld Dig still holds up after all of these years. Mediocre combat aside, the sense of exploration, excellent gameplay mechanics, and the delightful audio and visual style are top notch. Even if you’ve played the game on other platforms, there is still plenty of fun to be had here.

Final Score: 8.0

(Review code provided by the publisher)

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