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“SteamWorld Dig” Review

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The great 3DS eShop title finds its way to the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

What Is It?

Indie games taking inspiration from Super Metroid are fairly common these days as Nintendo continues to not know what to do with their beloved franchise, so these smaller games can do some really cool things with that formula to make it their own. SteamWorld Dig is one of those games that takes a lot of Super Metroid’s mechanics and applies them to a style of digging game like the Xbox Live Indie title Miner Dig Deep. That means that you’re digging through a mine in search of ores that are hidden throughout the earth, but your inventory is limited enough that you must return to the surface often to sell loot, purchase upgrades, and get ready to return for more mining. Along the way, you’re searching for the answers to your uncle’s death that brought you to this mine.

Why Should I Care?

SteamWorld Dig does a fantastic job of infusing Metroid mechanics and that sense of skill progression into the pleasant tediousness of the digging mechanics in a game like Miner Dig Deep. You are an extremely mobile miner that has great wall jumping controls, wall slides, and flexibility to the mining controls that help you dig at spots you could easily miss if you weren’t paying attention to what’s around you. The wall climbing and sliding controls are some of the best of their kind in any game I’ve played, and they’re great for getting around fast in the long tunnels that you dig. The second world introduces some wrinkles to the level design with acidic blocks and pools of acid that are more annoying than an added challenge. As you might expect, there are a number of secret caves hidden throughout the game that either unlock some of your needed new abilities or offer special bonuses. This gives you some incentive to not just follow the main path through the mines.

Besides mining, SteamWorld Dig does have some enemies scattered around its mines. You run into some small, easy critters before the more difficult and annoying enemies that can shoot spikes at you or throw flasks of acid to take out any cover you might have. Those sorts of enemies can be dangerous to run into with the steep penalties for death, which causes you to lose half of your gold and drop your ore on the spot.I ended up just exiting the game right then to save my money before making the run again with the knowledge of what was to come. Another neat new feature is the ability to remap all of the controls, though I found that remapping the drop item button breaks that particular option. The last minor issue I had actually came after the game was over because there’s no New Game Plus mode that lets you start over again with bonuses or even a way to just go back to finish exploring the world.

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Why Is It Worth My Time And Money?

For $9.99, SteamWorld Dig is well worth the cost of admission for such a fun spin on the genre that controls so well that it made my Top 10 list for 2013. It may not last more than about three or four hours for a minimal run, but the enjoyment and replaying for trophies is reason enough to play it some more. The game does support Cross Buy to get you both the PlayStation 4 and Vita versions for that one price, though there is no Cross Save support to let you continue where you left off on the other platform. Image & Form has said that they’re going to patch that feature in an upcoming update, so that shouldn’t be an issue for much longer. It’ll be interesting to see what Image & Form’s next game is after SteamWorld Dig has put them on the map for big time indie developers.

 

 
 
 
 
 
Title: SteamWorld Dig
Platform: PlayStation 4, Vita
Publisher: Image & Form
Developer: Image & Form
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: March 18, 2014
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Developer's Twitter: ImageForm
Editor's Note: The review code was provided by the developer.
OpenCritic

The great 3DS eShop title finds its way to the PlayStation 4 and Vita. What Is It? Indie games taking inspiration from Super Metroid are fairly common these days as Nintendo continues to not know what to do with their beloved franchise, so these smaller games can do some really cool things with that formula to make it their own. SteamWorld Dig is one of those games that takes a lot of Super Metroid’s mechanics and applies them to a […]

SWD 1

The great 3DS eShop title finds its way to the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

What Is It?

Indie games taking inspiration from Super Metroid are fairly common these days as Nintendo continues to not know what to do with their beloved franchise, so these smaller games can do some really cool things with that formula to make it their own. SteamWorld Dig is one of those games that takes a lot of Super Metroid’s mechanics and applies them to a style of digging game like the Xbox Live Indie title Miner Dig Deep. That means that you’re digging through a mine in search of ores that are hidden throughout the earth, but your inventory is limited enough that you must return to the surface often to sell loot, purchase upgrades, and get ready to return for more mining. Along the way, you’re searching for the answers to your uncle’s death that brought you to this mine.

Why Should I Care?

SteamWorld Dig does a fantastic job of infusing Metroid mechanics and that sense of skill progression into the pleasant tediousness of the digging mechanics in a game like Miner Dig Deep. You are an extremely mobile miner that has great wall jumping controls, wall slides, and flexibility to the mining controls that help you dig at spots you could easily miss if you weren’t paying attention to what’s around you. The wall climbing and sliding controls are some of the best of their kind in any game I’ve played, and they’re great for getting around fast in the long tunnels that you dig. The second world introduces some wrinkles to the level design with acidic blocks and pools of acid that are more annoying than an added challenge. As you might expect, there are a number of secret caves hidden throughout the game that either unlock some of your needed new abilities or offer special bonuses. This gives you some incentive to not just follow the main path through the mines.

Besides mining, SteamWorld Dig does have some enemies scattered around its mines. You run into some small, easy critters before the more difficult and annoying enemies that can shoot spikes at you or throw flasks of acid to take out any cover you might have. Those sorts of enemies can be dangerous to run into with the steep penalties for death, which causes you to lose half of your gold and drop your ore on the spot.I ended up just exiting the game right then to save my money before making the run again with the knowledge of what was to come. Another neat new feature is the ability to remap all of the controls, though I found that remapping the drop item button breaks that particular option. The last minor issue I had actually came after the game was over because there’s no New Game Plus mode that lets you start over again with bonuses or even a way to just go back to finish exploring the world.

SWD 3

Why Is It Worth My Time And Money?

For $9.99, SteamWorld Dig is well worth the cost of admission for such a fun spin on the genre that controls so well that it made my Top 10 list for 2013. It may not last more than about three or four hours for a minimal run, but the enjoyment and replaying for trophies is reason enough to play it some more. The game does support Cross Buy to get you both the PlayStation 4 and Vita versions for that one price, though there is no Cross Save support to let you continue where you left off on the other platform. Image & Form has said that they’re going to patch that feature in an upcoming update, so that shouldn’t be an issue for much longer. It’ll be interesting to see what Image & Form’s next game is after SteamWorld Dig has put them on the map for big time indie developers.

 

Date published: 03/24/2014
4.5 / 5 stars

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