SteamWorld Dig 2

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Image & Form Games
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2017


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PC Review - 'SteamWorld Dig 2'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 29, 2017 @ 1:45 a.m. PST

Grab your pickaxe and dig into SteamWorld Dig 2, a platform mining adventure forged in Metroidvania flames.

Buy SteamWorld Dig 2

In the span of three games, developer Image & Form has created one of the more fascinating worlds in recent memory. SteamWorld Tower Defense showed off an interesting world set in the Wild West, where humans were savages and robots were the superior beings. SteamWorld Dig expanded on that as you took control of an unlikely prospector who uncovered something that could threaten the sentient robots. SteamWorld Heist took on a seafaring theme, but with the water replaced by the vastness of space. Not only did each game take on a different chapter of robot life, but it did also so while covering completely different game genres. For its first real sequel, the team returned to the game that got them noticed in the form of SteamWorld Dig 2.

SteamWorld Dig 2 takes place shortly after the events of the first title. Players take on the role of Dorothy, a friend of Rusty's. After his big discovery in the initial game, Rusty has ventured to other mines, but he hasn't been heard from in a long time. Worried, Dorothy goes to go find him. After a mishap in a mine, she picks up a mischievous sprite named Fen and happens upon the town of El Machino. She learns that the inhabitants have seen Rusty, and the place has been besieged with earthquakes. Armed with that information and a stubborn will, Dorothy sets out to discover the answer to both mysteries.

Much like the first game, most of your time is spent in a short gameplay loop. You go into the depths of a mine, dig around for loot while dispatching any enemies along the way, get to the surface to cash out your findings, and repeat the process. Your journeys are considered short since your backpack can only hold a small amount of gems. They're also short since your head lamp can only burn a small amount of fuel before you're left in the darkness. You can still dig in the dark, but it's not recommended unless you want to lose your hard-earned gems to enemies. However, since the tunnels you've created are permanent, as are the foes you kill along the way, you'll still make progress in every run, even if it's only bit by bit.

That bit of progression goes a long way once you start the upgrading process, which is now divided into three categories. XP is gained from turning in gems, completing tasks, and killing foes, and every level you attain gives a larger cash bonus for the gems. Cash is used to buy and upgrade tools, while cogs can be used to add new abilities and provide a different way to upgrade those same tools. While the cash upgrades are permanent, cogs can be added and removed at your leisure, though it can only be done in town at the store. As such, you're encouraged to experiment with any abilities gained from those cogs, depending on your currently assigned goal.

SteamWorld Dig 2 retains that Metroidvania feel, as you're led to new abilities and upgrades that subsequently unlock more of the mines and provide much more room to explore. Unlike before, the levels are hand-crafted instead of procedurally generated. While this means that one playthrough will play out the same time all of the time, it also means that the experience can be better crafted to have more exciting set pieces. That hand-crafted design introduces the water-powered grenade, which allows you to destroy things from afar and have another means of killing the bosses. The design also means that there are plenty of secret passageways that hide extra upgrade cogs and artifacts that can be traded for blueprints for more upgrades and tools.

The one flaw is still the lack of content after the game has been beaten, but that complaint has decreased this time around since the main campaign is longer than before. Finding all of the artifacts opens up some post-game content, but that doesn't last very long. The lack of a variable difficulty system also discourages another playthrough, so unless you want to go for 100% or like the game enough to play through it again, SteamWorld Dig 2 will most likely be a "one and done."

Like the first game, the presentation is fantastic. The bold colors and the heavy cel-shading play well with the lighting system, while the animations are as smooth as ever. Even though most of your time is spent in one town and lots of caves, the environment and designs are always impressive. Sonically, the effects are nice, and the robotic gibberish is endearing. The music still goes for a Wild West theme but with more variance, depending on the situation. The town is much more upbeat and has an almost hip-hop style, and while caves foster a nice sense of exploration, the mood quickly becomes foreboding once the light goes out. It is creepy enough that a jump-scare would fit right in, even though such a thing never happens.

SteamWorld Dig 2 is everything that's expected from a good sequel. The gameplay loop is just as engaging as before, but there are some much nicer tools this time around. The levels may no longer be randomly generated, but the hand-crafted ones are smart and still provide exciting gameplay scenarios. The game also comes in at a perfect length, and while some will lament the scarcity of things to do once the adventure is over, few will deny that it was time well spent. SteamWorld Dig 2 is another awesome entry in the SteamWorld series, and it's a game that's worth checking out.

Score: 9.0/10

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