Steamworld Dig 2 offers high-quality Metroidvania goodness. It takes the original game and improves upon on every front.
It’s been roughly four years since Image & Form games released the original Steamworld Dig to an ovaeral positive reception (we definitely dug it). The original was the second game in the Steamworld universe and was followed by another game in the universe that wasn’t a sequel: Steamworld Heist. That game was quite different from Dig so fans of that game might have been disappointed. Those fans now have something to look forward to as a true (and direct) sequel is here in the form of Steamworld Dig 2!
Steamworld Dig 2 takes the core “mining” gameplay mechanic from the original and mixes it up with a healthy portion of Metroidvania gameplay. The mining gameplay is still an important part of the game but it takes a backseat to the exploration elements. It also delivers an even more engaging story resulting in a game that is an improvement of the original on all fronts!
The story is a direct sequel to the previous game but stars a new protagonist in the form of the bot Dorothy. The game picks up when Dorothy arrives in a town looking for the hero from the previous game, Rusty. After saving the day in the original game Rusty has gone missing and Dorothy wants to find out why!
In true Metroidvania tradition, Dot (as she’s referred to in-game) starts out with a limited set of abilities but those abilities expand as the adventures progresses. The most notable (and useful) change to her basic abilities is wall-jumping. Right from the get-go Dot is able to scale vertical walls. This is a major improvement over the original where finding you’re way could become quite hard if you dug around too much. While this was part of the appeal of the original being able to wall-jump is still very welcome, especially since the sequel puts less emphasis on this digging and focusses more on exploration. While exploring, Dot will acquire loads of additional abilities that not only allow her to reach places she couldn’t before they also make moving around existing areas simpler. On top of finding new (major) abilities, Dot can also upgrade the abilities and weapons she has found. This works on two levels. The first is by buying upgrades with all the resources you dig up. The second is through special “cogs” you find hidden around the mines. These cogs are especially interesting as they unlock special abilities like extra experience points when killing enemies. But the number of cogs is fairly limited so using them is not a simple decision. Luckily you can change where you use the cogs so if you unlock a new “cog-ability” you really want you can assign existing cogs to it at the cost of dropping the cog-abilities you had before. It’s a system that works really well. Cogs are reward enough to encourage and reward your exploration.
Exploration is the main hook of the game and story is a big driver. As I’ve mentioned it’s a direct sequel to the first game and takes you on a quest to find the original game’s protagonist. This points you towards certain areas but leaves getting there up to the player. While this isn’t totally non-linear it does allow you both the freedom to explore the world and guide you along to keep your character’s development up to par. The game also features a kind of prolog level before kicking off the main game at the top of the main mine. What’s nice here is that this prolog level turns out to be connected and it something you can revisit later.
The pacing of the game is very well done. From the start to how your abilities evolve over the course of the game it all gells together very nicely. Most times when I started to get frustrated with certain areas a new ability would appear to help me along. And the times I seemed stuck exploring a different area quickly resolved my issues.
Controlling the game is well done overall but doesn’t quite feel natural. The main culprit here is the primary attack button that is mapped to a separate button. As a Mario veteran, I would have preferred it to have it joined with the sprint button. My issues with the controls are very personal and the control scheme is clear and easy to grasp. The game’s hud even shows you what button does what the whole time.
On the presentation side of things, Steamworld Dig 2 is on par with the original with crisp HD sprites that form the signature style of the steamworld universe. The animation is nice but can be a bit clunky during ‘cutscenes’. The characters of the game’s overworld ‘hub’ are colorful albeit a bit one-dimensional. The audio is moody and fits very well. Overall the game is very polished and oozes production value. While this is always nice to have it’s especially nice for an indie title. While the game isn’t the cheapest eShop title out there, at 20 bucks this is definitely a good deal.
Steamworld Dig 2 is a game fans of the original have been waiting for. But gamers who like a Metroidvania style challenge will defintely not be disappointed.