Steamworld Dig 2 Review (Switch)

When the first Steamworld Dig came out it was brought to my attention by Shelby who’d downloaded it and played through it. He was gushing about how much fun the game was. A couple weeks later I ended up getting a copy myself and playing through it. I immediately fell in love with the charm of the game and have since played through the game more than half a dozen times on a few different systems. The digging and exploration of the game were so much fun. I got to a point where I could play through it very quickly. Today marks the release of its direct sequel, Steamworld Dig 2. A new character and new play mechanics come along for the ride. Can this second dig game stack up to the first?

In the game you play as Dorothy, another bot inhabiting this post apocalyptic world where humans have gone into hiding and robots are living on the surface. Rusty has gone missing after the events of the first game, mysterious earthquakes are rumbling and she wants to find out just what’s going on.

Steamworld Dig 2 (13)When you start Dorothy wakes up on a small ledge. Once you jump off there you’re taken through a quick tutorial that teaches some of the basic mechanics of the game. If you played the first one they’ll feel very familiar and almost second nature to you. You’ll learn how to dig, wall jump and generally get around the map. You’re led through a pretty linear area until you reach the game’s main hub, a village of bots located at the top of a huge cliff. The elevator that you would normally take up there is out of order so you have to climb and dig your way up.

Once you’re there you’ll be introduced to a crew of crazy characters. From the town’s more or less incompetent mayor to his mother who is constantly yelling at him and telling him not to be a screw-up. A rare artifacts collector asks you to bring back any treasures you find on your adventures. If you do he rewards you with new blueprints that can be used to upgrade Dorothy’s abilities. The store keeper who will sell you new upgrades to your equipment to make them better along the way, and more. Others are just NPCs that will give you flavor text about the world and things going on around them. All of them have bizarre and unique characteristics and you’ll enjoy talking to them all as you go back and forth to this hub village.

Steamworld Dig 2 (15)Once you’ve explored the hub world and gone through the tutorial section to gain entrance into the mine the world fully opens up. From there you have access to go The primary mechanic of digging is still here and you’ll spend most of your time doing just that. There are vast caverns and claustrophobic passageways to explore along the way. Lava, poisonous pools, mechanical bugs and more are all here and will try to keep you from getting to the bottom of what’s going on. Luckily you have plenty of weaponry and skills at your disposal to help clear them out and rescue Rusty. At first the world seems pretty contained, much like the first game. However if you take a minute to scroll the map you’ll see that it is, in fact HUGE. This world is massive and there’s not just stuff underground. There are areas above the ground level to explore as well. The above ground areas are worth exploring as well. You’ll find plenty of upgrade material there as well.

One of the big focuses of the game is exploration. Because the map size is so big it can be overwhelming. The game gives you markers to show you exactly where you need to go. Just how to get there will be up to you to figure out. There are plenty of hidden and off the beaten path areas that you’ll want to find access to. If you’re the really adventurous type the game will give you the option to turn off the objective markers so that you have to figure out where to go just by exploring. I left those on through my review as I didn’t want to become hopelessly lost, but I can see the fun in doing that and would probably turn them off on a second play through of the game.

Steamworld Dig 2 (11)As you explore you’ll come across loot that can be sold for cash to buy new upgrades. Get used to making that loop as you’ll be doing it a lot to get all the latest and greatest steam gadgets from the store on the surface. You’ll explore a bit, find some loot, take it back and upgrade gear. Head back down, dig a little deeper, get more loot, take it back to sell again. Do this over and over, getting a little deeper every time. It’s a rewarding system and if you’re like me you’ll find yourself stretching just a little bit farther to grab those last couple gems to get the next piece of gear. You will also find places hidden in many of the caves where you can get new equipment as well. Things like stronger armor, fiery pick axes and jet packs are all hidden in the caves and you’ll need to find them all to explore every nook and cranny of the world.

Challenging boss fights also await you. As of the time of this review I’m on the final boss fight and have had to replay it more than half a dozen times to really figure out the attack patterns and abilities of the boss. Some of them have simple puzzle elements to them. Some of them are just straight up fights. None of them repeats anything and they all feel different from each other.

Steamworld Dig 2 (5)With the first Steamworld Dig game I found myself enjoying the exploration of the game and the more laid back nature of it. There were some challenging bits, but more than anything they really wanted you to get into that loop of exploring, selling and exploring a little more. This time there feels like there’s more game to it. At one point I felt the exploration sort of stopped and parts of it turned into a straight platformer with some digging elements. The visual style has more color this time around and while it feels similar to the other Steamworld games it helps this one stand out just a little bit. The characters are interesting. The story is relevant to many events going on in the real world today. It’s humorous, challenging and has a nice balance between frantic fights and laid back exploration. If you like the first game you’ll love Steamworld Dig 2. If you haven’t played the first one go play that one, but then make sure you take the time to play this one too.

Four Stars

Review copy provided by Image & Form
Played through the full story (was on the final boss fight at time of review)
Total Play Time 7 hours

Update:  The final boss has been defeated.  It took 11 attempts and a few re-workings on my gear to beat her, but she’s been defeated.  Final time just under 7 hours.

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