Developed and released by little know Swedish developer, Image & Form, SteamWorld Dig represented one of those rarest of things upon release – a genuinely fantastic 3DS eShop release. With its fantastic art style, great score and its plethora of inspired (if mostly pilfered) ideas all combining to create a surprisingly imaginative and decidedly compelling adventure, SteamWorld Dig stood as one of 2013’s true hidden gems.
Now available as a Cross-Play title on PS Vita and PS4, we can only hope that SteamWorld Dig finds the audience that it deserves – and believe me, Image & Form’s imaginative little platformer really does deserve as big an audience as possible. Sure, nothing about this game is individually innovative in its own right, with the majority of ideas taken from the likes of Dig Dug, Minecraft and the Metroidvania genre, but as a complete package, SteamWorld Dig manages to rise above its fundamental similarities to other titles to create an experience that feels surprisingly unique, and perhaps more importantly, consistently fun.
Perhaps it’s the setting? Well, it’s certainly a strange one; playing as a steam punk inspired robot, you are left to explore your recently deceased (decommissioned?) uncle’s abandoned mine, because, well, everyone is into digging nowadays aren’t they. It’s an odd world filled with increasingly odd characters and enemies, but one that, along with its gameplay, remains pleasantly charming throughout.
While a combination of initially limited abilities and a very basic premise means that the first hour or so of SteamWorld Dig is a little slow, I implore you to push through the somewhat cumbersome and arguably, slightly boring opening hour. Once things begin to open up and you start to unlock the array of additional abilities, the world of SteamWorld Dig expands greatly both technically and artistically. It may not be the most visually impressive game in the world, but this a title with charm to spare and, despite not offering a wealth of different locations, does offer up a surprising amount of variety for a game that is based almost exclusively underground.
With its vast world and solid collection of unlockable abilities, SteamWorld Dig is a game that gets better and better as you progress, and at about 6 hours long, delivers a decent amount of content for its relatively minimal asking price. It arguably wears its inspirations a little too proudly on its sleeve, but the whole certainly makes up for a lack of new ideas amidst its myriad of clever mechanics, abilities and challenges.
Luckily, while the gameplay provides nothing new, the art style and story do a great job of keeping SteamWorld Dig from ever feeling overly familiar or stale. Sure, some of the characters do rattle on a bit and yes, it’s hard to shake the fact that it all looks a little too much like Sperlunky, but for the most part, this is well written, beautifully animated and artfully designed stuff and yet another great indie title to add to the ever increasing collection available on the PlayStation platform.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.