There’s an alternate reality that exists where humans had huge technological advancements in the 1800’s, leading to the creation of robots whose sole purpose is to dig and excavate ore and resources for mankind. The advancement of technology and the quick access to raw materials lead humanity to build stronger and more powerful weapons, eventually leading to war and wiping the Earth clean of humans, save for those few who escaped underground. But, the robots aren’t affected at all. They’ve been programmed to mine and excavate, so they continue doing their duties and eventually learning to think on their own. This is where the SteamWorld series picks up.
I had no idea what to expect going into SteamWorld Dig 2. Having never played a game in the series before (but hearing so much praise from my boss, co-workers and my favorite journalists) I was excited to dig into something new. The research that I did before playing led me to find a beautifully crafted and well thought out universe by Swedish developers Image & Form. After finally playing the game, to say that I came away impressed would be an understatement.
In SteamWorld Dig 2 you play as a robot by the name of Dot. She’s on a personal quest to find the protagonist from the first game, Rusty, who has gone missing. Dot is eventually joined by Fen, a sarcastic and inquisitive god/spirit of the weird and strange technology that she meets in the caverns.
The game takes Dot and Fen through many beautiful caverns and environments where they encounter MUCH stranger things than they had anticipated. The aesthetic representation of the world is breathtaking; every piece of the game environment is hand drawn. The caverns, where you will spend most of your time, are expertly designed and full of many surprises to find. There are mineable resources spaced out in the dirt and rock as you dig yourself down, and as you head to El Machino, the city above, they can be exchanged for gold. Resources in SteamWorld Dig 2 are finite, in that they don’t respawn. So after you mine it or sell something, that’s it. This makes you end up having to think pretty hard about where you want to mine, because when you go back up or down you might not be able to reach a certain area again. It’s a very fun way to make your choices feel like they matter, even though you’re digging into some dirt. The game has a fast travel system which is a big tube system that sprawls down and up to the El Machino. It isn’t just for ease of access to the hub city, but also a way to help navigation within the caves. All of the areas in the game feel designed with such thought to the systems that SteamWorld Dig 2 has to offer that it’s hard to realize that the levels are actually randomly generated.
Alongside the labyrinthian caves are mini-dungeons. These are their own separate areas that are based around one puzzle idea, and when you complete a puzzle cave (as I called it) you get a Golden Gear, which can be used to add modifiers to your equipment. As you play the game and level up your equipment you’ll unlock skills for each piece, which require a set amount of gears to equip. Equipment levels and skills are purchased in the city, and require a set amount of gears to equip. The coolest thing about this system is that you can unequip these modifiers and equip other ones without losing your gears. It adds a very nice level of player freedom, and makes you think
of about how you should approach a certain area in the gigantic caves.
My job is to play and review games. Reviewers usually get games a week or so in advance so that we can take our time with them and pace ourselves. With SteamWorld Dig 2 I found myself playing all weekend, not because of my job but because I legitimately enjoyed it and didn’t want to stop. I found many secrets, maxed out my equipment, defeated most of the little dungeons and still had an itch to go back and retread my steps. Dig 2 is a blast from beginning to end and is easily recommendable to anyone who has a hankering to play a solid adventure platformer. You can take it on the go and bust it out during a lunch break with the Nintendo Switch. Or, you can enjoy the beautiful hand drawn visuals on a massive screen at home. However you choose to enjoy it, SteamWorld Dig 2 shines like a beautiful diamond that’s been mined from a sea full of amazing 2017 releases.
A copy of this game was provided to SideQuesting by Image & Form. The game can be found on Steam at: http://store.steampowered.com/app/571310/SteamWorld_Dig_2/
Reviewer info: Zach had never played a SteamWorld game prior to SD2