Steamworld Dig was a game I got into way too late. Playing it on the Playstation Vita, however, felt nearly perfect. While seeing the art in full size is great, indie games like that work especially well in handheld form. So it certainly wasn’t a surprise that the sequel, Steamworld Dig 2 was announced for the Switch and, as it turns out, is still an absolute blast to play as a portable game (although, playing it on a big screen is still great, too.)
Following the events of the original game, Steamworld Dig 2 follows Dorthy, another steam-powered robot on a search for Rusty, the protagonist of the first game. Following the ending of that game, Rusty vanished and was last seen in the small town of El Machino. After meeting a small ghostly sprite named Fen, Dorthy sets to digging underground to find Rusty and determine exactly what is causing all of the quakes above ground.
The plot goes in some surprising directions, as you uncover a doomsday cult, a group of “Shiners” (the last remnants of humanity), and discover that although the threat thwarted at the end of the last game may be dead, it’s terror is far from over. By the end of the game, you get a real sense of connection between the characters. While you may know exactly what the setting of Steamworld Heist is and you may have a clue on how it connects to Steamworld Dig 2, getting to that point can actually be kind of emotional.
The core conceit of Steamworld Dig 2 is digging underground, gathering resources, selling those resources and buying upgrades to dig more. The primary gameplay aspects of Dig 2 are similar to the original, though there are some handy additions that have been added in. The biggest change is that there is no longer procedural generation of the mines that you travel through. Instead, every area is crafted by hand to create an environment that feels like you no longer can get screwed over by a misplaced rock on a set of gems.
There are larger changes, as well, such as new abilities like a jetpack you gain late in the game, a hookshot required to solve some fiendish jumping puzzles, or a fire pickaxe that can bring golems to life throughout the mines. The environments feel huge, as well, with multiple areas spread out across multiple mines. All told, it took me nine hours to complete the game and get all of the hidden relics found throughout.
Playing Steamworld Dig 2 rarely feels too taxing. You can go through areas at your own pace and never have to rush to complete a task. There are additional cogs that you can unlock to gain modifiers that can either make the game significantly easier (such as extra damage or mods to regain health) or some that will make the game more difficult (one mod creates a + shaped crevice whenever you mine a mineral which can cause boulders to fall in areas you don’t want them to.)
There is definitely a completionist aspect to Steamworld Dig 2 that feels incredibly satisfying. Eventually, you can get a mod to show every single location of a mineral on your mini-map, which makes unlocking items way easier. There are also secret areas aplenty and finding all of the relics hidden unlocks an absolutely devilish set of challenges that deactivate some of your most used abilities. As a “Metroid-vania” style game, it feels like there is always a reason to go back and revisit all of the areas you might not have gotten everything from and doing so can be a blast.
Playing on the Nintendo Switch definitely feels like the way to go, though the game is also available on the PC and the PS4. The game runs great in handheld mode and is one of the most fun pick-up-and-play type games I’ve seen for the system. Short play sessions give you a rush of excitement finding secrets, but I played most of the game in one go and never got tired of it.
Steamworld Dig 2 is an absolute must have on a system that already has a ton of must-have games. While mechanically it’s not too dissimilar to the original, that absolutely works in favor of this game. Now, let’s just ask, Image & Form Games, can we please have the rest of the Steamworld series on the Switch?
SCORE: 10 out of 10
A code for Steamworld Dig 2 was provided to Pixel Related for review.