SteamWorld Dig 2 Review
You'll Dig This Gem!
SteamWorld Dig 2 is the latest game by Swedish developer Image & Form for Nintendo Switch, PS4/Vita, and PC/Mac. And is the direct sequel to SteamWorld Dig released back in 2013. The game starts out where SteamWorld Dig left off with Rusty missing and Dorothy determined to find him.
After a brief gameplay tutorial, the player will quickly fall into the first mineshaft of the game. The player must make their way through it, digging through the environment and avoiding multiple traps along the way. It's almost like you're playing as your very own mechanical Indiana Jones. In this mine, the player will earn their first upgrade and boss of the game. Shortly after completing this, Dorothy will reach El Machino, which serves as the primary hub of the game.
My immediate reaction to the town of El Machino was how colorful and beautiful the art was. The characters were unique, colorful and oozing personality. It is one of the best 2D games ever made.
Poor El Machino is suffering from multiple earthquake attacks that are causing major problems for the citizens. Upon arrival, Dorothy is tasked with investigating the cause of these tremors and to get clues on Rusty's location.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is all about exploration. There are multiple mines to explore throughout your journey. And inside each mine, there are multiple caves. Each cave has one primary objective or item to be retrieved and a second one that is hidden outside the golden path. The second hidden item sometimes requires an ability that the hero has not obtained yet and will require a return visit later in the game. Some of the caves are optional, while most are required to progress further through the game.
While exploring through the mineshafts, the player will find warp tunnels/pipes that allow the player to fast travel throughout the world map. This mechanic is used heavily as there is a ton of backtracking done in this game. The player often must return to El Machino because their lamp has lost all of its light or their inventory bag has been maxed out with too much ore. The game gives the player some limitations that they must upgrade to overcome. Without enough light from your lamp, it makes it very difficult to traverse deep down the mines. Similarly, until you upgrade your backpack enough, you'll only be able to hold a few ore (used as the game's monetary source). Ore is extremely important as it allows you to buy upgrades for your primary items. Something you'll be doing throughout the game.
As players continue to progress through the game, they will encounter steam chambers that unlock abilities or items to add to the mechanical robot Dorothy. This is very reminiscent of Mega Man X or Metroid, where the protagonist continues to get stronger with new abilities. Some of these items include the Pressure Bomb, Jackhammer, Hookshot, and Jetpack. The Pressure Bomb allows Dorothy to blow up material that she can't reach with her Pickaxe. Harder dirt material can be broken up by the Jackhammer which will quickly break through the environment. While the Hookshot and Jetpack give Dorothy the ability to travel much faster through the mines and the ability to reach areas she couldn't before. All of these abilities really enhance the game and make it a lot of fun exploring the different mines and caves.
Not only does the game feature item and ability upgrades, but it takes it one step further with the Cog Mod system. There are several cog pieces hidden throughout the caves of SteamWorld Dig 2. Each of these can be used to enhance the player in a number of different ways. The more upgrades given to the player's items like the Pickaxe, Pressure Bomb, Water Tank, etc. the more unique Cog Mods are unlocked. Some examples, the water tank refills faster or enemies take damage when running into Dorothy. The best part of these Cog Mods is that they can be changed any time the player is back at the workbench in El Machino. The player can re-spec as many times as they want throughout the game. This comes in handy because one area has lots of lava where the player can equip the Vidar Boots mod which limits damage taken in lava or acid. The mods can be switched and changed to the player's preferences and play style.
You'll need all these upgrades and abilities in the game because the enemies and environmental hazards are plentiful in this adventure. The mines and caves are filled with hazards like flying darts, falling boulders, spiked cactus, purple dripping acid, and lava among others. The enemies have a good variety of birds, bats, bugs, acolytes, golems, etc. After completing the game it said I had died twenty times. Some of these were from boulders crashing down on my head. While others were caused by me getting deep into the mines and running into trouble before reaching a fast warp tunnel. Fortunately, the game offers armor upgrades to add additional heart containers to make it easier to survive.
The game also features multiple boss fights. The original SteamWorld Dig only had one boss at the very end of the game. One of the few complaints about the original title. While SteamWorld Dig 2 doesn't have a plethora of bosses to battle, there are multiple bosses that really add to the whole package of the game.
The music does a great job of setting the western theme throughout the game. And the sound effects add to the danger and exploration of the environment as the player traverses through the world of SteamWorld Dig 2.
By the time I reached the credits, I had logged 10 hours into the game. But that was only with roughly 50% completion. Image & Form has said there is additional game content once players reach 100% completion. The game also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. And now I can't wait until we get SteamWorld Dig 3!
Who Should Play This Game?
Pretty much everyone. SteamWorld Dig 2 offers a great experience for just about every gamer. If you loved the original or Metroidvania type games, you're going to really enjoy this one. It's one of the best Indie games I've ever played.
What Makes the Game Worth Buying?
SteamWorld Dig 2 takes everything you loved about SteamWorld Dig and enhances it greatly. The game does a great job of rewarding players for continued exploration and boosts the player with new abilities. The game has beautiful 2D art, great music, and a fun story.
Awesome gadgets and abilities to enhance gameplay
Absolutely beautiful 2D art
Great Cog Mod customization system
Engaging story and humorous writing
"The Floor is Lava" cave
A lot of backtracking
Disclaimer: We received a Steam review code for this review. Also purchased Nintendo Switch copy for a quick comparison.