SteamWorld Dig Review


So I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for more Google Stadia titles to come and wake me up and then, all at once, four titles from the Steamworld Dig series arrive on the Stadia store in one hit. This pleased me as I knew this series had a fantastic reputation on other platforms and I have played them in dribs and drabs, but to access games such as these on the Stadia opens up a whole world of opportunities as you can transfer from one device to another with ease. At the time of writing, Google Stadia is still in “early access” and you can only use the platform currently with a founders edition, premier edition or buddy pass; all of which are difficult to obtain unless you have invested your hard cash into the hardware itself which consists of the Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra, or you know of a friend who is willing to donate their pass to you for three months. Google, however, promise that Google Stadia will be accessible to all players at some stage in the coming future.

SteamWorld Dig is actually the second entry into the series following on from SteamWorld Tower Defense, which was a title that launched all the way back, a decade ago, in 2010 on the Nintendo DS. Now you’ll be surprised to hear that SteamWorld Dig is actually seven years old now, which was a big shock to me as I have played it on a variance of platforms and it still looks and performs impeccably. You start the game off as a mining robot in a small town with three other peculiar machines. If you have played games such as Boulder Dash back in the day or, more recently, Terraria you will know where I’m going with this review. SteamWorld Dig has aged brilliantly and still offers the same amount of pick up and play fun now as it did when it first launched.

As you start the experience off you will have conversations with the people in your town and you will set off with your trusty pickaxe and dig down into the depths of the world. Here you will mine as much ore as you can handle whilst negotiating the earth so that boulders don’t crush you. The addictive nature of this is the fact that everything you gather underground can be used when you resurface to purchase new items or make your current loadout strengthen. You’ll either find yourself making short trips down and making yourself a memorable maze to weave back through or like myself you can get carried away and keep digging and exploring what is underneath your feet. This isn’t a bad thing though as its an endless rewarding cycle.

As for the currency you earn you’ll be able to invest in making your pickaxe stronger to mine for longer and lanterns that will be able to illuminate your surroundings so that you’re not wandering aimlessly in darkness. Prepare yourself for a temporary grind at first as you are essentially mining and looting in order to build experience in your character. Personally I gained real enjoyment from this knowing that it was my decision where to mine, what to mine, how long to spend underground and when to resurface, the world is at your hands. Be cautious and concise though as whatever you pick away at will disappear and will not respawn, so if you mine a piece of land its gone forever. Your mindset will have to focus on what to purchase and where to go at times as you will have to be mindful of the obstacles in your way.

There are critters under the surface that can damage your health, so do approach with patience as you encounter them. No time limits are applicable here so it is perfect for pick up and play, pause and go again whenever you please. It is also worth bearing in mind that the deeper you go, the less source of light you have at your disposal; its here where you might want to think about heading back to town. Even though you’re never in pitch black, it does make it more difficult to engage with what is in close proximity to you and this could turn some people off. The control system is flawless and simple to learn and operate, if you’re familiar with platformers you’ll agree that this is up there with the best of them. Your character who is named Rusty has the ability to hop, jump and climb up low level walls.

When you negotiate in enemy combat you have options here, you can either avoid them completely and find a route around them or battle against them. A couple of swipes with a pickaxe usually sees them off, but let them get too close and they will decrease your health rather rapidly. The clever thoughts here though are that you can use the surroundings to kill the enemy such as mining tactically so that a boulder crushes them or edge them close to a nearby trap to see them off. Sometimes this can be much more satisfying than going head to head with them and adds to the experience. If you sadly pass away the punishment isn’t too severe, you’ll lose what you’re carrying and you’ll need to start from the surface again but this felt too easy and less forgiving knowing that the chance of coming back again was far too simple.

It is difficult to criticise SteamWorld Dig because as indie games go I’d say its at the top of its game, even for a seven year old outing. Even though I’m the first the pull a face at the fact Google Stadia isn’t doing enough to bring new and fresh titles to the forge I am glad to see these titles on the platform as they never tire and lose their sense of fun. If I could bring any poor points to the forefront I would say it can become tedious making your way back to surface, especially if you have been underground for some time. Just hope that you have some recollection of the way out otherwise it could take you longer than it took you to dig down.

SteamWorld Dig is fantastic and visually pleasing even for an aged title. It performs well on Google Stadia on my Chromecast with a high performing broadband connection, but I could imagine this title would work well on a mobile device using the Stadia application on a 4G or 5G connection. For such a low price point of £6.99 on the Stadia store at the time of writing, it’s definitely worth the purchase if you have never delved deep into the world of SteamWorld Dig.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Google Stadia code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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SteamWorld Dig Review
  • Gameplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sound - 8/10
    8/10
  • Replay Value - 8/10
    8/10
Overall
8/10

Summary

SteamWorld Dig has aged brilliantly and still offers the same amount of pick up and play fun now as it did when it first launched.

Pros

Visually Pleasing Even 7 Years On

Addictive and a time sink

Endless experience of mining and levelling

Cons

Climbing back to the surface can get tedious

Can be short lived depending how much you want to invest

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