Note: Image & Form Games provided us a review code in exchange for our honest review.
SteamWorld Dig introduced gamers to mining robots who set up an old-West-style mining town and dug for buried treasure in a vast subterranean underground that seemed to go on forever. Now the sequel has been unearthed, and as expected, it provides more of what gamers liked about the original and adds bigger and badder gadgets, environments, and enemies. While Steamworld Dig was reminiscent of the old-school game, Dig Dug, Steamworld 2 is more like Metroidvania in that it fuses elements of both Metroid and Castlevania.
Players take on the role of Dorothy, who was the bot that purchased minerals from players in the first game. After yet another run-in with a Doomsday cult (don’t you just hate when that happens?), she meets up with a levitating ball of energy that has lost his/her memory. Together, they set off to find a long-lost friend named Rusty (the protagonist from the original game), who apparently has been up to some nefarious deeds. While the story never gets all that interesting, it does introduce an unusual cast of wacky characters that add a bit of much-needed humor to the adventure.
One of the aspects of this series that I love is the retro-futurisitic Steampunk aesthetic that evokes a nostalgic feel. For starters, simply putting humanoid robots in an old-West setting screams Steampunk. Add a sweet pair of goggles permanently stuck to Dorothy’s head, hidden gears that are used for upgrades, gigantic moving stone golems, a steam-powered town, and highly-advanced gadgets to the mix, and the result is enough Steampunk goodness to create at least one sequel to the movie, Wild Wild West.
Dig the New Gadgets
Speaking of cool gadgets, SteamWorld Dig 2 has several new gadgets that are both fun to use and also help players traverse the environment. For the uninitiated, this game’s main feature is venturing underground and using a pickaxe to dig through dirt and rock to unearth minerals that are then sold for cold, hard cash. This cash is then used to purchase and/or upgrade new equipment so players can delve even deeper into the Earth’s depths.
Since the blocks of dirt and rock don’t respawn, players must use their wits to create paths that can be used to backtrack when necessary. However, certain gadgets like the jet pack make this a moot point as it can be used in short bursts to travel in any direction. I also really like the Hookshot, which is basically like a grappling hook that lets Dorothy attach herself to rock either vertically or horizontally. Combining the Hookshot and the jet pack lets players travel almost anywhere, which is quite liberating. I like how gadget progression is laid out because the terrain constantly presents challenges, and finding gadgets overcomes them while also introducing new ones.
In addition to finding cool gadgets, Dorothy eventually uncovers protective boots that let her walk through acid and lava as well as a jackhammer arm that lets her break through rocks. She even discovers a way to turn her average tool into a flaming pickaxe! How cool is that? Every single one of these gadgets can be upgraded by spending enough money. Another cool addition is the ability to customize these tools and gadgets with a wide variety of mods. Do you want your pickaxe to generate money for each kill tear or through resources faster? There are mods for that. Do you want your lantern to magically illuminate resources or increase the chance for enemy drops? There are mods for that too. What’s really cool is that mod activation is not permanent, so players can “respec” all they want. This is great for promoting experimentation and not forcing players to only choose the most practical mods.
Not surprisingly, there are plenty of secrets to discover while digging through the nooks and crannies of this game. I found plenty of hidden areas tucked away behind out-of-the-way rocks that I just happened to smash. Eventually, I discovered a pattern and knew approximately where most would be, so I was able to find several gears that are used for gadget mods. There are also several challenging caves for Dorothy the spunky spelunker, to uncover and explore.
A Rare Gem
This game is a wonderful sequel that improves upon the original in every single way. My complaints mostly center around the lackluster storyline and certain characters who could use more exposition. I also found some of the enemy placements to be on the ‘cheap’ side. On more than one occasion, I literally dropped into a den of enemies that didn’t appear until I was bouncing between them. Lastly, it would be fun to have the ability to customize Dorothy’s outfit, including goggles and hat.
Nevertheless, I still find SteamWorld Dig 2 to be a wondrous, fantastical adventure through a fanciful steam-powered, retro-futuritic world where steambots replace humans. Hell, if they made SteamWorld into an amusement park, I’d visit at least once a month as long as the steambots didn’t go into a murderous rampage!