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!

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

Steam Controller Review

RAE - Back in Town

Thankful it's ov

Half - Life 3 FINALLY 100% confirmed...maybe.

Surprisingly... I'm *really* enjoying Fallout 4!!

Where the Hell is Breath of Fire?

Comments of the Week - バーガーベスト, ですよね?

My Month in Games - November 2015

Cblogs of 11/28/15 - Lonely Thanksgiving, Gatchaman Crowds, and more

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Alfie avatarAlfie
Was on the front page and was greeted by a new post, which I clicked to find "You cannot see the future". Then refreshed and it was gone. I saw Chris's post on Eight Days' cancellation as it was brought, new and unready, into the world! Rare and wonderful
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Have you ever purchased a game only to regret it later and then sell it/give it away, only to even later regret selling it and wind up purchasing it again?
gajknight avatargajknight
A decadent staircase adorned in gold rises into infinite darkness. Writhing beings beyond comprehension lurk in the shadows, their mere presence encroaching on the edges of human understanding. A blood moon glows . I am losing my mind. I need more eyes...
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
We need to be implanted with microchips because I'd really like to know how much time I've spent playing different video games my entire life.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Today's agenda: job-hunting and startup of a second playthrough of either Phantom Dust or Front Mission 4. I can't decide. I'm on a sixth-gen kick.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If there are rainbows in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Reyn must be in it as well. You can't have a rainbow without Reyn, baby!
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I really hope Xenoblade become it's own franchise, it has way too much potential to simply being reduced to 2 games.
Sotanaht avatarSotanaht
Touchable Holograms? When this eventually matures and hits market, almost all our regulars will vanish for weeks.
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Xenoblade Chronicles Wii for €10? Sure, Nintendo, don't mind if I do!
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Super Smash Bros. 4 has too much content. So much so I almost don't want a sequel. I honestly hope that NX gets a "Super Smash Bros. For NX" port rather than a new installment. It could be a GOTY edition and come with all of the DLC.
Batthink avatarBatthink
Flegma avatarFlegma
Bought my first full-priced physical 3DS game ever - New Style Boutique 2: Fashion Forward. I'll try to write a post on the previous game at some point before doing the same with NSB2.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
How do you guys manage to buy all these games at day 1 with such huge backlogs?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Guys if I were to do a thing, how many of you would watch my thing because I was thinking of doing a thing but I dunno if people really like that kinda thing so I just wanted to know if you liked that thing because I'm thinking of doing a thing, you know?
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Bayonetta 2 is 40% off in the EU Nintendo eShop today. If you have a WiiU and don't have this game you are a horrible person and I want nothing to do with you. You can amend your errors by buying it. Xenoblade Wii is also 50% off as well.
El Dango avatarEl Dango
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Protag shipping is best shipping. [img][/img]
El Dango avatarEl Dango
My dreams are really weird and scary, so I hope it's okay if I let them be dreams.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Finally played the last two Shantae games. Risky's Revenge wasn't bad, but Pirate's Curse was damn good.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Memo to self: spend your time cleaning before wasting ten or so hours on a cblog you'll end up just scrapping because you're incompetent and incapable of writing on the subject.
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 -