Developer: Image & Form Games
Publisher: Image & Form Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action, Adventure & Platformer
Release Date: 21st of September, 2017 (PAL & NA)
After years of not knowing, rumours, leaks and secrets, on the 20th of October, 2016 the once named NX was revealed to the world and among its line-up of games and list of developers revealed to be developing a game for the new Nintendo platform, one such developer was Image & Form Games.
SteamWorld fans the world over wept a tear of joy, only no actual game was revealed, at that time. Instead those tear weeping fans were forced to endure months of believing the previously leaked “SteamWorld Quest” to be the game that was in development for the Switch, only SteamWorld Quest was a lie and the day it was shown for what it was, there could be no denying how euphoria that washed over all of us. SteamWorld Quest may have been a clever red herring, but on the 28th of February, 2017 as part of a Nindie Showcase, SteamWorld Dig 2 was unveiled. For years fans have been begging for a sequel and Image & Form heard those pleas and with a wave of their magic wand, our wish was granted for Dig 2 was a reality as I sit here in my dwelling in the south of Spain, overlooking the Alboran Sea, I do so knowing one simple fact, SteamWorld Dig 2 is absolutely incredible!
From the moment it was revealed, Dig 2 was instantly 1 of my 3 most anticipated indie games for Switch for 2017 and although Fe and Runner3 were the other 2 in that list of 3, they’re no longer releasing this year, Dig 2 sure is as it is out tomorrow (at the time of typing this,) and it is everything I had hoped it would be. I may not have succumbed to the charms of the SteamWorld series until last year and I realise that was a grave mistake on my part, but I do like to consider myself as a Steam fan and although SteamWorld Tower Defense is not the best and could do with a remaster that would run great on Switch, each incarnation of the series are pretty great in their own right with some being better than others. For example, I loved Dig, but there can be no denying that Heist is better, but Heist is no longer the top dog in SteamWorld wolf pack, because Dorothy and Dig 2 are kicking Piper Faraday and Heist to the curb.
Dig 2 is everything Dig could have been and should have been, in a single package and sure Rusty is not the protagonist of it, like he was in the first one, but its story does greatly involve him as it stars Dorothy, aka Dot from the first game and it follows her adventures in El Machino, as she strives to find him. And even if he was the main character of it and the story was tailored to suit that path, I actually don’t think it would have worked out as well, so props to Image & Form for choosing the right path for Di2 2 to go in, because Dot does make for a decent protagonist in her own right and with Fen by her side (well, insider her,) engaging discussions aren’t just expected, they actually happen.
But you don’t want to know all about that yet. You actually want to know what Dig 2 is like and how it actually compares against the first 1, so here’s me giving you guys the type of review you, and the good fellows over at Image & Form deserve. Dig 2 is hands down Dig all over again, in the sense that it is another well written tale about robots operated by steam, living in a desert, with digging and mining resources playing a huge role, only Dig 2 is all of that on a far larger scale! (Seriously, after taking one look at all that SteamWorld Dig 2 is, Rusty has dug himself a hole, crawled in it and has filled that sucker up with tears of jealously. I hope someone calls the Lifeguard over!)
On a very serious note, whereas Dig only scratched the surface of Metroidvania, Dig 2 digs a lot deeper and is a true showing of what a SteamWorld Metroidvania could be, thanks to the much larger world its developers were able to create for it, and the fact that Exploration and Platforming now play a tremendous role in it. While there is in a fact a story to drive the events of Dig 2, there is so much going on in this game that following the story becomes a thing of the past and you can become more obsessed with doing a bit of exploring instead and since this game has plenty to do in the way of exploring and secrets, you can expect to invest a lot of time into Dig 2 in pursuit of obtaining 100% completion and acquiring the prize the goalpost presents.
Now, I won’t spoil what the prize is, (purely because I have no idea what it is as I have yet to earn it myself but I do know that there is one,) I will however take a moment to talk about some of the games secrets as some are truly special indeed and once such item, (SPOILER ALERT!) is an Amiibo Figurine of Rusty! While fans may not be able to purchase an official Rusty amiibo any time soon, if choose to hunt down every area for every cog and every artefact, then it is only a matter of time before the Rusty amiibo can be yours and you can call off the search to find Rusty, as the Amiibo Figurine is much more likeable.
However should you require more of a reason as to why you should hunt down the cogs and artifacts, there is actually a very good one and that is artifacts can be given to a certain NPC back at El Machino to unlock certain blue prints that can be used as part of the game’s upgrade system. Not only can the resources you mine be used to be changed over to cold hard gold coins, but those coins can then buy you upgrades like more health, more water tanks for storing water since things like the Jackhammer (an awesome power-up that can speed up digging,) but all the power-ups can actually be improved ever further thanks to customisable load-outs that require the gold cogs. In other words, if you like using the pickaxe and want to gain more experience every time you kill any enemy, there’s a customisation for that. If you want your lamp to burn a little brighter and further, there’s an optional upgrade for that too and so many more and because there is a limited number of cogs in the game, and more unlocked as you progress and level up by gaining experience, that’s where things can get really interesting.
SteamWorld Dig 2 doesn’t just dangle customisations in front of your face, it actually forces you to change up your gear and abilities from time to time, but that’s okay because it also allows you to adapt and mold the SteamWorld experience to your own liking, so that it becomes your own adventure as it can be played in your own preferred style and even if you can’t find those dastardly cogs as some are so well hidden it’s untrue, but there is a trader in El Machino you can buy some from, only they do get more costly every time you buy one.
Still none of that even compares against what SteamWorld Dig 2 does fantastically well and that is the visuals. If you have seen photos and videos of Dig 2, you have only seen the surface of what is a game that literally lets you dig in any direction, as there places in this game that are so beautiful, so frightening and so surreal that you know the second that you are there, that when you finally finish the game, which can be anything from 7-15 hours easy, you will immediately load up your file and continue playing because Dig 2’s beauty is so captivating that it really is hard to walk away from and it gets even more beautiful the deeper down the rabbit hole you go.
What the guys have been able to pull off for this mostly hand-designed with some procedural generated elements, work of art is truly breath-taking as even the smallest of things in this game, are anything but as a lot of the little things do in their own way, tie in to the lore established within the SteamWorld universe and the upgrades are awesome. Yes there is one piece of gear obtainable from an unusual machine that allows you to hover/fly for a brief moment or two, but there is also a Hook Shot. Yes that’s right ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, SteamWorld has done a Spider-man/Link from The Legend of Zelda as there is a Hook Shot and it comes in handy for so many instances that it just makes it so fun to use, even if you can’t use it to swing like Spider-man. (I tried, I failed.)
Still if you’re sat there thinking this game looks like is child’s play, it’s not. There are boss battles, there are enemies and all of them will stop at nothing to kill you, so when playing through, but you also have to put up with that and Fen’s penchant to get you to blow things up, including you. (What is a Steambot to do?) So in terms of dying, even if you were the most skilled gamer in the world, you will die at some point when playing Dig 2 and since dying means you run the risk of losing the resources you’ve mined, it is in your best interests to free up the various Teleport Tubes that are discoverable all over the map, as in a pinch they are a good way of making it back to the surface in a single piece, with your haul intact.
If you do die though, or are forced to leave ore and the like behind because you have a full load and don’t want to discard anything, not to worry, it will stay where you left it so you could always collect it the next time you’re passing that way. But the funny thing is, that’s Dig 2 in a nutshell. Just when you think you’ve seen/collected all there is in a single area, it doesn’t compare to what comes next just by venturing that little bit more. More awaits and awaits around the corner and once you’ve seen that, again more awaits. Granted this cycle does end, as there is a limit in place (there’s only so much a medium sized team with a limited budget can do,) but until such a moment is reached, a rush and adventure, is to be had the entire time.
The truth is, if you are looking for a Metroid: Samus Returns alternative on Switch, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a pretty darn good choice and even though it is a sequel, there really hasn’t been a SteamWorld game quite like it. It is as original as the game that came before it, but so much better! The music is superb, the worlds are fantastic and it really is the game I will be obsessing over inbetween the other games I’ll be playing as part of my review duties. It really is sublime and everyone who worked on it pulled their weight and delivered an absolute knockout because that is exactly what Dig 2 is. It is a knockout that deserves the indie top spot for Switch and if the team behind it have yet to crack open a beer to celebrate the game’s success, they really should because that beer and the ones that follow it are well deserved!
I honestly have nothing but love for this hilarious game with lively characters. Image & Form have made a truly great sequel that perfectly captures the very essence of the first game and made it into something even more. Dig 2 is without a doubt Image & Forms’ SteamWorld at its finest and I have not loved another game like I love this one, since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Snake Pass. It truly is captivating, addictive and exciting title that was made with so much love by its developers that you really can feel it with every second, and it really is the Nintendo Switch’s must own title! Indies on Switch really don’t get that much better than this and just in case you hate the current icon, a better one is in the works, so there’s no need to worry about that!
THE VERDICT: 10/10
*Review Key Provided by Image & Form Games