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SteamWorld Dig 2 Review: Striking Gold

/ Oct 3rd, 2017 No Comments

SteamWorld Dig 2 Review

Image & Form Games has slowly been building a deep universe of steam-powered robots. The original SteamWorld Dig was a sleeper hit thanks to great character design, a lot of charm and fulfilling gameplay. It was a game that won you over very easily.

SteamWorld Dig 2 has the unenviable task of following up such a powerhouse. Luckily, it doesn’t stumble one bit. It takes what made the first game excellent and exceeds it.

In every way imaginable, SteamWorld Dig 2 outshines its predecessor. By refining gameplay to a smooth science and creating a more complex narrative, you’ll have a hard time not falling in love all over again.

Earthquakes, Death Cults, Shiners and Other Oddities…

Dot is searching for her old friend, Rusty. After defeating the Vectron in their old mining town, Rusty has gone missing. When Dot hears rumors of her friend finding work in El Machino, she decides to venture out of her small mining town to track him down.

Before she even gets to El Machino, she runs afoul of a mysterious Death Cult worshipping a floating head and the cult is ready to zap them into oblivion. She soon finds out it is just a mischievous sprite inhabiting the machine with an appetite for destruction, and she gains a sidekick.
 

SteamWorld Dig 2 Review

El Machino has a very inept mayor that is focused solely on keeping the ore coming into town.

When she arrives, she finds the town in disarray. Powerful earthquakes have been occurring in the mines below. A hapless mayor, a disrupted economy and a scared populace all hinder Dot’s ability to venture below.

However, she learns about steambot with a red scarf heading into the mines recently. She’ll have to dig deeper into the mines, find out what’s happening with the Shiners, the Death Cult, and more if she hopes to uncover the truth of what happened to her friend.
 

SteamWorld Dig 2 Review

The death cult is weird.

Much of what makes SteamWorld Dig 2 such an engrossing experience is its narrative. The simple premise of looking for an old friend is a good hook, but the story is far from simple. It uses that premise to build out and create a quirky and complex world.

What makes the story stand out is how it uses big information reveals to twist your expectations. Stuff like the true nature of the Shiners, Rusty’s possible role in the Death Cult, and what is really causing the earthquakes all help build a complicated narrative that keeps you guessing up until its satisfying conclusion.

On the Hunt

In order to find clues about Rusty, Dot has to venture deep below El Machino. To start her hunt, she’ll have to dig.

The most satisfying aspect of SteamWorld Dig 2, much like its predecessor, is digging into the depths of a mine. Digging helps you find sweet loot to buy upgrades or uncover secrets, but the control you have to create your own path is what really is the most addictive element of the game.

SteamWorld Dig 2 has strong Metroidvania influences, but unlike other Metroidvanias, you aren’t bound by a set path with specific roadblocks. Largely your path is your own to make, and you will inevitably make bad decisions. Whatever perfect or jacked up pathways you dig become your map.
 

SteamWorld Dig 2 Review

When you get to digging, you better have a plan.

Those new to the series may have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to digging. There is a science to it, even if it is never stated. The key is to create paths that work for the abilities you have at the moment. At the beginning of the game, you have the ability to wall jump against a long, sheer face of rock, allowing you to move up or across minor gaps.

While you don’t have to make long towering paths, you should keep this fact in mind when digging so you don’t find yourself stuck in a huge canyon. You should dig with the idea of utilizing the wall jump early on to make it back to the surface or to reach unexplored areas.

Many of the more convoluted and resource management heavy aspects of the first game have been refined and done away with in SteamWorld Dig 2. No longer do you have to buy disposable lamps or ladders. The upgrades you get throughout the game help you better explore or re-explore areas.

The gadgets up the ante for exploration tremendously. There are plenty of new and exciting ways to find hidden relics or reach hard to get resources. One of the best new additions is the hookshot, which allows you to cling to far away surfaces. This upgrade results in some tricky and difficult platforming sections that add danger and stakes to traversing the caves in the game.
 

SteamWorld Dig 2 Review

The hook shot opens up a whole lot new platforming possibilities.

It is a good thing you have plenty of new ways to maneuver around mines and caves because SteamWorld Dig 2 has way more to discover than the first game. With more than four mines to dig through and plenty of caves with secrets to find, you’ll be busy searching every last nook and cranny for everything.

Not only do you get new gadgets for mining, but each is upgradable and customizable. What results from tinkering with both of these is unique and intriguing ways to utilize your arsenal.

Honestly, no matter what is said about SteamWorld Dig 2, playing it is the best way to understand exactly how cool it is. There are cool boss fights, interesting puzzles, a great sense of adventure and an amazing look to it. Once you play it, it’ll be hard to stop.

Overall

SteamWorld Dig 2 is one fantastic ride. It keeps you wanting to know more at every turn with fantastic storytelling, but also makes it hard to put down with satisfying, addicting gameplay.

Like Dot, you’re constantly going deeper trying to find the game’s many secrets. There is a lot of replayability because even when you complete the main story you’re not done. Finding 100 percent of the game’s secrets unlocks the game’s post-game content, giving you even more to explore.

Some games hit you on every level from the moment you start up. SteamWorld Dig 2 is one of those games.

SteamWorld Dig 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by the developer
 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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STEAMWORLD DIG 2 REVIEW: STRIKING GOLD

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall92%

GAMEPLAY9.5

SteamWorld Dig 2 builds upon the addictive mining gameplay of the first, but ups the ante several times by adding in tons of new gear and expanding out the scope.

GRAPHICS9.5

SteamWorld Dig 2 features a charming and vibrant world brought to life with amazing art direction and superb character design.

SOUND9

The score by El Huervo gives SteamWorld Dig 2 a fitting soundscape to uncover mysteries and unearth precious resources. Each area has its own distinct flavor thanks to infectious themes.

STORY9

Dot’s quest to discover the whereabouts of her friend Rusty takes some turns often for the bizarre, but finding out the truth is undeniably satisfying.

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