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Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Release Date: Sep 22, 2017
Edited by KnightAvenger
The original SteamWorld Dig was a pretty cool combination of a basic digging mechanic with RPG and Metroidvania elements. It would revolve around going down a mine, digging and getting minerals which you would, afterwards, sell in the town above to get some money and buy upgrades to your equipment in order to go further down the mine. It had some issues, such as slight repetitiveness at times, the graphics (while charming) being a bit “dirty,” difficulty in getting back up in some places (even with meticuloud planning in terms of where to dig), etc. I’m happy to say that most of these issues got resolved in this sequel, and more.
First of all, the levels are more streamlined, which makes for a lesser amount of digging to get to the goal that, in turn, allows for a larger focus on the RPG and Metroidvania aspects of the game to be given a larger role. While being done better, this means that the repetitiveness of dig ore->sell ore->upgrade->repeat that was a slight issue in the original game is all but completely gone.
More precisely, while that cycle is still there, you don’t unlock upgrades through selling more ore and thus increasing the economy level of the town like in the previous game, but instead, you get experience points for every enemy killed and every completed quest. Upon reaching certain levels, you unlock new upgrades for your stuff. Money is still acquired the same way, though.
All of the upgrades bought are pretty straight-forward, such as upgrading the pickaxe increases the speed at which you dig and mine, upgrading light increases the amount of time it takes for it to burn out, upgrading armor gives another heart, etc. A new addition to the second game is a new resource, cogs. They can be used to upgrade your equipment with some more exotic and unique upgrades, such as giving extra experience for any enemy killed by a pickaxe, not allowing the light to go below 50%, damaging enemies that damage you through direct contact, etc. All of those different upgrades need a different number of cogs to turn on, but the great thing about them is that they are not permanent. Instead, the cog upgrades can, essentially, be turned on or off at will.
The cogs are mostly gained by going through special levels, rooms that you enter which, usually, have either a puzzle or a short skill-based level to go through with little to no digging. Those are optional but fun, most of the time. Most importantly, they also distract from the possible monotony of constantly digging. Plus, they often serve as a test ground for newly acquired gear. That is where we come to the Metroidvania aspect of the game.
Just like in the original, plenty of new equipment can be gained throughout the game, which makes it somewhat easier. However, gone are the days of dynamites, double jumping and steam jumps of the original game because, in this one, you have sticky bombs, a grapple hook and a jetpack, among some others. Needless to say, they’ve mainstreamed that aspect as well since you no longer need to stock up on dynamites and ladders before going into a dungeon, as sticky bombs are infinite, only depending on water, and the jetpack’s only restraint is time since it quickly overheats. Additionally, no longer do you need to pay to get back all your health since you get both your health and water reserves automatically, completely refilled as soon as you return to the town, or rather, city, in this game.
The main city of the second game is El Machino. It is a bustling city with quite a nice cast of characters there unlike the first game where you had to work with only a couple of residents. The story follows Dorothy, one of the characters of the first game, in pursuit of Rusty, the first game’s protagonist. After destroying Vectron, he disappeared. Dorothy hears that somebody has seen him in El Machino, so she goes there. The whole game’s story revolves around finding Rusty somewhere below El Machino.
When it came to the original game, the art style for both characters and the backgrounds was beautifully steampunk set in a wild west-like place where only steambots resided and humans were deranged mutants well below the surface. The sequel takes all that and generally improves upon it by being more ambitious, crisp, and clear. All of the NPCs feel pretty unique despite being obvious representations of tropes for comedic effect. There is a mayor who only cares about profits, his “mother” that nags him, a county bumpkin, a nerdy mechanic, a posh artifacts collector, and so on.
Just like in the last game, their dialogue is well written and witty, making a lot of references and subtle jokes about the world, situation and everything. I enjoyed all the dialogue of the first game and thankfully, they only increased the amount of it in the sequel, making the enjoyment last even longer.
Speaking of longer, this game is also longer than the original. This is achieved by cramming more content into the game, making the story more involved instead of being pretty basic, like it was in the original, and just making the world bigger and more fun to explore. It is quite magnificent how they managed to streamline and make the game more enjoyable and still increase the game length in comparison to the original.
When it comes to the placement of this game in the SteamWorld universe, narratively, it is a sequel to the first SteamWorld Dig, and a prequel to SteamWorld Heist, effectively tying those two games together, which is very nice for people who care about the cohesion of the series’ universe. It makes me wonder about the next game in this series, as I doubt that Image & Form can make any more Dig games due to the nature of the ending.
All in all, I think it’s clear that I recommend this game, especially to either the fans of the original game or the SteamWorld universe, or to people who love steampunk aesthetic. Of course, I also highly recommend it to fans of RPG and Metroidvania games even if you don’t have much interest in the theme or style of the game.
- Looks and feels better than the original
- Characters are amazing
- There are more characters than in the previous game
- Less of a focus on the mining
- Bigger focus on RPG and Metroidvania aspects
- Streamlined most of the boring bits of the original
- Is basically just an upgraded version of the original in every way
- Less of a focus on the mining
Faris gives SteamWorld Dig 2 a Drastik Measure 9.6 out of 10 (96)
SteamWorld Dig 2 is available on Steam for $19.99 (USD).