SteamWorld Dig 2 is a platform action-adventure game developed by Image & Form. A direct sequel to the hit SteamWorld Dig, the predecessor follows Dorothy, or Dot, as she searches for her lost friend and protagonist of the original game, Rusty.
Following directly on from the 2013 hit Steam World Dig, the sequel follows Dorothy – Dot – as she sets out to find friend and protagonist of the first adventure, Rusty. As she sets off to the nearest town an earthquake causes Dot to fall through the ceiling of an underground temple (Déjà Vu anyone?). This simple area acts as a tutorial as such for the main bulk of the game to come. With trusty pick in hand, Dot must explore to find a way out.
It’s during the games opening moments that the player is introduced to Fen, a small blue flame from the Vectron race of beings. Players of Image & Form’s previous title, SteamWorld Heist, might recognise not only the name but the appearance of Dot’s ethereal blue companion. Fen brings much-needed dialogue to the game, something I found the original lacking somewhat. The exchanges between the two not only helps move the plot along but also allows for some comic relief in some of the game’s heavier moments.
Visually speaking, SteamWorld Dig 2 has come leaps and bounds from the series’ humble beginnings on the Nintendo 3DS. The game boasts a cartoony 2D art style with vibrant colours and detailed backgrounds. The characters are full of personality and each distinct area of the underground is unique and stands out all under the warm glow of Dot’s lamplight. But not only this, the game is full of small visual cues subtly nudging the player in the right direction as well as tying the game into the SteamWorld series as a whole. There’s the obvious link in the form of the Vectron but I noticed a few other little nods which I won’t go into to avoid spoilers but it does tie the series together nicely.
Just like the game before it, SteamWorld Dig 2 focuses heavily on the collection of loot. While mining players will encounter gemstones and precious metals, all of which can be sold when back on the surface. The money earned can be used to upgrade the various tools that Dot has at her disposal. For example, upgrading Dot’s pickaxe will allow her to dig through the mine faster while upgrading her armour will provide Dot with more health. As players progress through the game various unlock stations provide Dot with additional abilities and items, all of which can be upgraded to some degree.
Though, cash is not the only way to upgrade Dot’s gear and abilities. While mining there are a number of caves to be explored. Many are presented in the form of a puzzle or trial of sorts. By successfully navigating through the gauntlet Dot will be presented with a golden gear. These can be collected and used to activate a number of special abilities to help Dot with her descent into the darkness.
I found the beginning to be somewhat slow, with the limited number of treasure items that could be held at one time coupled with the seemingly short lamplight life forcing me to return to the surface on a regular basis was rather tedious. With this being said, however, Image & Form have added in a network of pipes which act as fast travel points that allow Dot to return to the surface as well as previously located areas within the mine with relative ease providing the exit has been discovered and unblocked; a much-needed addition which worked wonders in the later areas of the game.
As the story progressed I found myself becoming more and more invested in the characters and their journey. Each character is unique and has their own personality, but in addition to this the dialogue is well written and keeps you engaged from start to finish. If you take the time to chat with Fen when prompted, Dot, as well as the player begin warm to the small blue flame and it becomes apparent his attitude is nothing but a cover and there are some genuine “in the feels” moments as the game enters its final curtain call.
While SteamWorld Dig 2 isn’t one of the lengthier games I’ve played this year, my total play time clocked in at just over five hours, I can say with confidence it is one of my favourites. Like SteamWorld Heist, the game is filled with laugh out loud moments and engaging gameplay. While the puzzles aren’t always particularly difficult they do require some finesse to complete (I’m looking at you The Floor is Lava). It’s worth noting as well that although I’ve completed the main story I’m only around 33% complete from a secret standpoint so I still have plenty left to discover. If you’ve yet to venture down into the darkness with Dot and Fen, I suggest you do so soon and allow yourself the joy of discovering what lies below, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.