Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

SteamWorld Dig

Review: SteamWorld Dig

5:01 PM on 08.21.2013 // Tony Ponce

Dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig in your mine the whole day through

On paper, SteamWorld Dig sounds like the most mind-numbing slog that you could possibly imagine. The object of the game is to dig, exchange the minerals you unearth for better equipment, then dig some more. And when you think you've dug deep enough, you start punching the rocks and pick up the pace.

Being forced to perform a singular action ad infinitum can severely impede fun and enjoyment in a videogame. Ironically, the cornerstone of many popular games is the repetition of seemingly mundane tasks with the goal of discovering ever more efficient ways to accomplish said tasks.

What makes the grind in SteamWorld Dig so exhilarating is that each upturned patch of soil is another step towards some grand new discovery. That is, as long as you don't mind digging. A lot.

SteamWorld Dig (3DS)
Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Release: August 7, 2013 (EU / AU) / August 8, 2013 (US)
MSRP: $8.99

In a steampunk Wild West populated by robots, young Rusty has inherited his Uncle Joe's mine. Ol' Joe apparently lost his life plunging the depths of the mine for its secrets, thus its up to his nephew to take up the pickaxe and continue the journey.

SteamWorld Dig is sort of like an open-world Dig Dug. You must chisel away at the soil to create paths that descend ever deeper, all while avoiding underground obstacles such giant insects, falling stones, and pools of acid. Your field of vision is regulated by how much light you have remaining, so you must use your wall-climbing ability to regularly return to the surface and refill your lantern to avoid fumbling around in the dark.

Topside is a mining town where you can exchange any ore you find for cash and in turn use the cash to purchase new items and upgrades. Sturdier pickaxes will allow you to break through tougher soil in fewer hits, pouch expansions will allow you collect more ore, and so on.

Along the way, you'll enter special caves which offer more straightforward platforming challenges. Here you'll earn upgrades, like as a super jump, a drill arm to break through rocks that your pickaxe can't crack, or dynamite to blow away obstacles from a safe distance. Many of the upgrades are steam-powered, thus you must also mind your water reserves, which can only be refilled in underground pools or by picking up refills from fallen enemies.

That's the gist of it, really. What keeps the journey so thrilling is how customizable it is. Rusty can dig in either of the four cardinal directions but only when he's standing on solid ground. Therefore, you have to chart a path that not only allows access to ore deposits but also provides a clear route back to the town. Do you wish to dig straight down, thereby missing out on money that could be spent towards simplifying your journey, or do you perform a more thorough job and waste precious lantern light?

What results is a root-like labyrinthine of tunnels, chutes, and open expanses entirely of your creation; no two players' excavation work will be identical. How each person digs speaks volumes about their individual traits -- efficiency, curiosity, patience. It almost makes me wish that the game allowed for online progress sharing so that we could compare maps and play methods.

It is actually possible to trap yourself should you dig without concern for your equipment or surroundings. Certain items such as ladders and teleporters can be your saving grace, but should your supply be exhausted, your only option is to self-destruct. You will respawn on the surface, but you'll incur a 50% cash penalty and any ores you were carrying will have to be retrieved at the site of your death. The total amount of ore in the game is limited, so though there's more than enough to purchase every upgrade, repeated carelessness could end your shopping spree.

There's a lot to track and observe in SteamWorld Dig, but you can only understand its brilliance if you push forward through the grind, which may be easier for some than others. The first hour is definitely the hardest -- several swings are required to break through the soil using your weak starter pickaxe, and without the support of Rusty's later upgrades and techniques, progress is as slow and laborious as a real-life mining dig.

Then there's the need to return to the surface. The further down you dig, the longer it takes to climb back out to refill your light or go shopping. Aside from the teleporters you purchase from the shop, you'll find a scant few pre-installed at specific depths. Though they make returning to town a lot easier, you'll still be forced to backtrack a significant stretch as you create distance between yourself and the most recent teleporter. The best you can do is make sure that the return path is as streamlined as possible.

I admit that I felt pretty fed up with the game on a number of occasions precisely because of these shortcomings. Even so, the allure of what lay hidden beneath the surface compelled me onward. Soil gives way to a long-lost subterranean civilization, which then gives way to evidence of a world much more advanced then the one on the surface. Every hundred meters is some new surprise, some new revelation.

There is a genuine allure to SteamWorld Dig, you just have to clear out the rubble to find it.



SteamWorld Dig - Reviewed by Tony Ponce
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Tony Ponce, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure megaStryke Tips
(Decommissioned) Super Fighting Robot more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
SteamWorld Dig

  Aug 19

Delve into SteamWorld Dig on Wii U next week

There's supposed to be an easter egg hidden somewhere

  Nov 21

SteamWorld Dig coming to PC/Mac in HD next month

Gorgeous new Steam version on December 5

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

So I Got a 3DS

Negotiations are over. Rainbow Six Siege is a no buy from me as of now.

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 72: Sexy Dog

Meesa Back! (or, here, or something.) Dev Log #1

Cblogs of 11/23/2015 + Sexuality in Videogames

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
So someone messaged me on a Lightning fast, comment board that bow they're super depressed. And I worry for them now. Because a comment board is not something to get depressed over, just because someone disagrees with you if your an ass, people will be 2.
arkane9 avatararkane9
Guys, a sequel to Retro City Rampage: Shakedown Hawaii! Someone should really write about it. Lots of Dtoid staff were in the RCR after all.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Fuck racism man, shit ain't fair. Can't stand it and I shouldn't have to. Nobody should.
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
Embedded pictures in Quickposts seem to be broken for me right now.
Flegma avatarFlegma
To my surprise, I've more or less figured out Rodea Wii U controls. Still a different game from the Wii version, but not as decidedly inferior in my eyes. Did the legacy medals do anything in Wii version?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
"Am I a kid, or a squid?" I ponder as I stare off into the horizon. A wise man once told me "Son, you can be whatever you want to be. You are only limited by your lack of ambition " And I want to be a squid. A squid now.
Parismio avatarParismio
Captain America: Civil War trailer dropped!: [youtube][/youtube]
lewness avatarlewness
Gah, wanna go Alexander farming but The Old Hunters ;_;
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Holy shit, Splatoon is addictive.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Duck Hunt was a trickier unlock than I expected. Jigglypuff, you are next on my list! [img][/img]
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Yay, this arrived today. Nekro is quite happy, as he's been looking forward to playing this game for a while. [IMG][/IMG]
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Dtoid mobile has apparently broken again. This is it. This how the dtoid ends. *black hole opens, dtoid disappears*
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Gave Ronin one more chance before I chucked it in the "never to be finished" pile, glad I did. It could have been so much better but as a frustrating time waster it's not bad.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I'm sitting on the Fapcast's most recent recording. I just feel like I need a day for myself after, you know, freaking out about rent.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Why is every Quickpost now spaced out like poems with random amounts of stanzas that never ever rhyme?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Was anybody else here extremely disappointed by the ending of Assassin's Creed 2?
Parismio avatarParismio
Just tried Fallout 4 on my PC Via my Cousins steam account and nope, it does not run for me very well. Buying the PS4 version it is!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
You know who never took any shit from anybody? Dr. Blight.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Am I the only one who has to pull up their sleeves to play competantly at videogames? When my hoodie's sleeves are down I play like a piece of shit but when i pull them up, I have more flexibility.
Shinta avatarShinta
PSA: Just picked up Falco amiibo at Best Buy. They had about 20 Tom Nook, 10 singles of Splatoon Boy/Girl, the Splatoon triple pack, about 30 Marths with a big sign saying "Look Who's Back!," Dark Pit, and probably about 15 others. Not too shabby.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -