This is the second review I’ve written this week where I had to avoid cheesy puns when sharing my thoughts on a video game. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed “SteamWorld Dig 2” from developer Image & Form. If you can’t see what I’m talking about from that title, you’ll have to ask someone else. I’m not doing it. I’m sorry.
(I really dug it.)
If you’re not familiar with the SteamWorld series, it started with the original “SteamWorld Tower Defense” on the Nintendo DS. “SteamWorld Dig” on the 3DS (later ported to other platforms) is where the series really started to take off, however. You played as Rusty, a steam-powered robot tasked with digging in a randomly-generated mine for treasure to bring back to sell for upgrades. It was wonderfully received and has finally warranted a proper sequel. “SteamWorld Dig 2” follows directly after the final events of the original when Rusty goes missing. Dorothy (Dot), one of Rusty’s companions, sets of to find out exactly what happened to her friend.
“SteamWorld Dig 2” takes everything we loved about the original and expands on it in a big way. The gameplay still feels like a combination of Metroid and Dig Dug, but this goes to greater depths (I did it again). Instead of randomly-generated levels that made the previous game feel like a rouge-like, Dot has a large open world to explore. You can go anywhere your upgrades will allow, even if you’re not supposed to go there just yet. This makes exploration genuinely fun, especially when the rewards are greater when working your way through difficult areas.
The equipment upgrades really make this game stand out. You have so many options to choose from that make each run feel tailor-made for the player. Almost every upgrade comes with a special ability that requires “cogs” to activate. These cogs are collectibles found through progression or in secret areas throughout the game. The best part is that these cogs aren’t permanent. You can uninstall them at any time to try different abilities for a different approach. If something doesn’t work quite right for you, just try something different. I love that I’m not committed to a particular build and can experience the game in any way I choose.
If you’re a completionist like me, you’re going to have a field day with “SteamWorld Dig 2”. Not only is there plenty of treasure to uncover across the map, but there are plenty of caves to explore. Each of these caves has mini puzzles that you must work your way through while also uncovering secrets. It’s immensely satisfying clearing out an area and getting a little green check mark letting you know you’ve found everything. This gives the game a bit of extra life to it, even after you’ve defeated the final boss.
I played the first half of this game on my Switch tablet and was amazed at how beautiful it was. The colors are vibrant, and the animations look fluid. When I finally docked my tablet and played on my 52″ LCD, I was even more impressed. Everything looks so crisp and clean. It reminds me of how my brain remembers looking at SNES games as a kid. But unlike the graphics from that era, this game doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
“SteamWorld Dig 2” Final Verdict
I can’t recommend this game enough, especially if you’re a fan of the Metroidvania formula. Almost everything about “SteamWorld Dig 2” is satisfying. The upgrades comes at a great pace, and it’s very difficult to put down. Not to mention, mining through these underground areas just “feels” good in a cathartic way. The only real negative I can say about it is that the story is a bit generic. But let’s be honest, this isn’t a game you play for a deep narrative. You play because it’s fun, and that’s exactly what this game gives you. It’s nice to see my Switch purchase finally start to feel justified.