Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, PS Vita, PS4, XBox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Steam Rating: 93% positive
I’m a sucker for any game that involves digging. I bought Minecraft way back before it was cool, actually paid for Creativerse when it was in early access (and regret nothing), and have spent a lot of hours digging in Craft the World. But SteamWorld Dig is a platforming game. It was a dilemma. So I waited until it was 75% off and I had some trading card funds in my Steam wallet to pick it up, and then promptly forgot about it.
(To be fair, it was during the Summer Sale and I bought a LOT of stuff during the Summer Sale, and then there were the lost RimWorld months, but I digress…)
The good news – at least for me – is that SteamWorld Dig is nowhere near the most punishing platformer I’ve ever tried to play. You play as a robot name Rusty, who comes to a small town when his uncle dies and leaves Rusty the claim to his mine. The arrow keys are used for movement as well as interacting with objects and quest-givers, the spacebar lets you jump, and the A key lets you dig – once you take a pickaxe off your uncle’s dead body.
The story is a little slow to unfold, but I found just exploring around, collecting gems and purchasing upgrades to be pretty satisfying. There is a leveling mechanic tied to the total value of gems you’ve sold, and although it’s a little tedious to have to climb all the way back up to town every time your pack is full (which feels like all the time), it’s not awful, and the fact that you can wall climb with either left or right arrow and space bar means you’re far less likely to dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of.
There are enemies to fight (so far, you just club them to death with your pickaxe), and you can also die from fall damage or having a block fall on you. There is a monetary death penalty, and you drop the items you were carrying – it’s a good balance in which death doesn’t feel too punishing, but it’s inconvenient enough that you don’t really want to die either.
Even if you want to make sure you miss nothing, you’re not likely to get much more than 8 hours out of a single playthrough, but there are quite a few achievements that encourage replay (including a speed achievement for completing the game in under 2.5 hours). If you’re not much for achievements, definitely wait for a sale, but I can see how with replay value, this is a title easily worth the asking price. It’s a fun aesthetic, moderately challenging game play, with the added bonus of if you just want to chill out and mine, you can do that.