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Review: SteamWorld Dig (PS4)

Posted by on March 18th, 2014 | 4 Comments | Tags:

In SteamWorld Dig you play as Rusty, a robot who has just received a deed from his uncle, who has just arrived in the mining town of Tumbleton. With his uncle nowhere to be found Rusty must dig and explore deep into the mines under Tumbleton to discover what secrets are hidden below. The PS4 version of the game marks my third playthrough (the first two were on the 3DS last Fall) and I’m happy to say that the game is still just as great.

SteamWorld Dig follows a pretty simple gameplay loop. Dig out tunnels deep into the mine, collect any valuable minerals you come across, and return to town once your bag is full. There you’ll sell everything you’ve found for money that you can use to purchase upgrades, dynamite, and other items that’ll make traversing the mines easier/faster. After you sell a certain amount of minerals you’ll level up which will also unlock new upgrades that you can then purchase as well. Once you’re done at the shops it’s back into the mine to do more digging.

Where things take a turn is when you begin to stumble upon caves within the mine. These caves are small hand designed stages that often require platforming and a small bit of puzzle solving to reach the end. Once doing so you’ll unlock an upgrade that gives Rusty the ability to run fast, jump higher, take no fall damage, etc. Aside from the nine main caves you’ll also come across optional caves that contain special minerals and treasures for you to find. These optional caves usually revolve around a simple puzzle for you to solve.

SteamWorld Dig has a bit of a slow start but once you start finding upgrades (which doesn’t take very long) you’ll find that it’s hard to put down. Unfortunately the game ends far before you’d want it to. The first time I played through the game on the 3DS my playtime ended just after three hours. My playthrough on the PS4 was just shy of two and a half. If I wanted to go through and collect everything like I did before, you could probably add a half hour or so but overall there’s not a whole lot to do after those few hours. Luckily the trophies in the game do encourage multiple playthroughs and if you’re up for a good speed-run this is a great game for it. The mine itself is also randomly generated each playthrough so mineral collecting will always be different.

Aside from digging there’s also monsters that you’ll find deep within the mine. Combat isn’t really a huge part of the game and you don’t get an effective weapon until you’re over half way through; however the enemies do pose a threat nonetheless. If you die you’ll lose half of the money you currently have and you’ll drop everything currently in your bag. In order to recover everything you lose you’ll have to make the trip back to where you died.

Something I’d like to note as well is that the new UI (also used in the Steam version) works really well for this game. It does a great job of conveying all the information you need without taking up too much screen real estate. Also using the map to convey how many strikes are needed with your axe to break through rock is still great.

SteamWorld Dig is a great example of a game focusing on a few mechanics and executing on them the best that it can. There’s really never a dull moment and despite how short it is, I’m still left feeling satisfied with the game overall. As someone who loved the it on the 3DS I’m happy to see it finally come over to PlayStation consoles. Not only did it give me a chance to play it all over again but now a whole new group of people get to check it out.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.

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