Game Review: SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig is a platform mining adventure game by Image & Form, released in the second half of 2013. It is available on quite a few platforms, including Nintendo 3DS, PC/Mac/Linux (via Steam), Playstation 4, and Nintendo Wii U. It is apparently a Metroid-influenced game, but I haven’t played Metroid. It is also quite like Terraria due to the mining down and collecting precious stones. In SteamWorld Dig there is considerably less emphasis on open-world exploring and extreme numbers of items to collect, and more of an obvious storyline.

I found the game good fun. Unlike the beginning of Terraria, it was obvious what to do, and I was clear on my next goal. Roll into town with population 3, talk with the NPCs, then down the mine and start hacking away. The NPCs have exaggerated personalities, which is to be expected I suppose, and are rather obvious and traditional in their roles. It would have been nice to mix things up a bit. As I dig further down, I found quickly that it pays to go horizontally more than vertically, and any vertical movement needs to be carefully planned. Even with the higher jump and other power-ups collected later on, it can still be very difficult to go back up without a little forethought. Rusty can only dig one space up, and cannot dig while jumping.

I was pleased that the pause screen displayed the current keys to use - this made it easy to quickly check how to change objects to place, rather than accidentally placing an object. The inventory is straightforward and provides all the information required while playing. It is possible to further inspect the inventory and reject items, but I haven’t needed to do that. The movement and hit zones for Rusty are reasonable. I was frustrated occasionally by digging the wrong space, just because I was slightly off centre over the top of rocks. The map is very useful in seeing where I’d been, and what’s coming up. Displaying the number of strikes required to mine the default rocks as separate levels was very helpful. I would have liked a way to see the current goal again - new goals pop up in a red banner once the previous goal is achieved, but I haven’t found a way to see the goal again.

Overall a pleasant game, simpler and more straightforward than Terraria, but with reasonable progression and some small choices to be made between available upgrades. I would recommend this game as a casual game, as a small amount of time invested can give a good return. For more complex or open-ended exploration and building, Terraria is the way to go. SteamWorld Dig is a fun way to pass some time.