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Steamworld Dig - Review by Andy Urquhart (PS4/Vita)

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Steamworld Dig is at it’s core a 2D platformer harkening back to the bright colours and vibrant atmospheres of classic Amiga games of the same ilk. But Steamworld Dig goes so much deeper than this. All at once it’s a roguelike, a Diablo like loot gatherer and a steampunk game set in a dystopian future.

You play as Rusty, a cowboy hat wearing Robot who has been been bequeathed a mine by his Uncle Joe. Rusty recovers Joe’s pickaxe and the dig begins. You objective is essentially to investigate the mine and bring anything sellable back to the surface in order to buy better upgrades and bring up more treasures. It’s a very simple yet, very effective mechanic, that evolves throughout the game and gives it the ‘one more try’ style that so many games fail to achieve. On top of having to keep an eye on your health, and making sure you don’t run out of light from your lamp (getting back to the surface with no light is doable, but I’m sure any miner would tell you it’s not recommended) you also have to make sure you can get to a water pool in order to use some of the more useful items such as the drill, as of course they run on steam power. Steamworld Dig keeps you hooked in and also manages to give an interesting story that will have you wanting to keep digging and digging right to the very end.

Littered throughout the mine, on top of the myriads of enemies and treasures to collect and several caves, which include special technology to assimilate or orbs and special treasures to collect. For me these sections were my favourite parts of the game as they invovled plenty of lateral thinking to solve various digging puzzles some of which took me many tries to get just right. This was especially true with the final (and infact only) boss, it’s actually a slightly tricky puzzle boss involving knocking out generators to eventually take him down, in order to do this you must use all the tricks you have learned along the way and the technology upgrades to defeat him. It’s a very fitting end to a very well created game.

The art design is beautiful, with Rusty and the various other robots you encounter along the way each having their own distinctive characteristics, the same can be said for the enemies, which become tougher to deal with the deeper you dig. Vecton in particular has some tricky enemies. The mine itself is procedurally generated so no two playthroughs are alike and I can certainly attest to that with vastly different playthroughs on both PS4 and Vita.

Yep, that’s right this is another one of those cross buy games we all love so much. So buy it on PS4 and you also get the Vita version for free and vice versa. This really adds to the package, however it would have been nice to have cross save functionality included as well, though I understand with a procedurally generated environment it probably isn’t feasible to implement this in a way that’s cost effective, but it’s definitely something I’d love to see in any potential sequel. The only other issue I have is that there is no way to enlarge the map to check where you are (which can become slightly disorientating at times) though I didn’t feel like it impacted majorly on my playthrough, it just took a little getting used to. This was only an issue on the PS4 as on the Vita version the map takes up more of the screen and it is much easier to make out exactly where you are.

Overall Steamworld Dig is a very well realised and polished platformer, one of the best available on the Vita and certainly the best available right now on PS4. My playthroughs clocked in at around 6 hours each, which for a cross buy digital title with massive replay value represents a major bargain as the game is priced at just under 9 Euros ($9.99). In closing I just need to add that this is the game I always wanted Spelunky to be, a persistant roguelike if you will and Steamworld Dig, surpasses Spelunky in every single way, and as such is a must buy for PS4, Vita owners.

Andy Urquhart
42 Level One

Steamworld Dig is available now on PS4, Vita and Steam.
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Overall Score - 9/10

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