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SteamWorld Dig (PS4/PS Vita) Review

/ Apr 1st, 2014 No Comments

SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig has been ported to numerous platforms before finally making its way to Sony’s PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. Prior to this, Image & Form released Anthill for iOS and Anrdoid and SteamWorld Tower Defense for DSiWare. SteamWorld Dig is a platforming exploration game. Image & Form Games developed and published the game.

SteamWorld Dig is a game that makes exploring the depth of Tumbleton a delightful and addictive experience through a clever upgrade system and simple yet deep gameplay. Tumbleton from its surface to its depths is full of color and personality, ensuring Rusty has something fascinating to see on his journey through his uncle’s mine.


Rusty’s mission in SteamWorld Dig is to dig through the mine his uncle left him. This is an easy task at first. Rusty has the use of the pickax he looted from his dead uncle’s body and uses it to dig above or under himself or to the left and right. As long as Rusty is in close proximity to a piece of soft soil, he can hack away at it with his pickax until he clears a path.

SteamWorld Dig

Rusty gotta dig, man.

At first, the soil easily crumbles after a few whacks from a pickax. The pickax does well and good for a while, but to continue deep into the mine, Rusty will need some more tricks. He gains these tricks by digging deeper into the mine to gather valuable ore and uncover caves. This is where things get tricky. Rusty often only has a small amount of room to haul valuable ore, so he constantly has to head back to the surface of Tumbleton to sell them off.

Wildly hacking through soil in a careless manner will get Rusty in trouble. Early in the game, Rusty only has access to a wall jump to trek back to the entrance to Tumbleton. It is important to make narrow paths to allow Rusty an easy escape back to the surface. This is where some early depth comes into the game.

Digging through the mine to avoid dying (and losing half of your earnings and loot) or getting trapped involves smart planning of paths to return back to the surface. By selling ore, Rusty gains access to better versions of his tools. Improvements range from more torchlight and stronger pickaxes to more water capacity and tougher armor. Not only can Rusty improve his gear, but he can buy items such as ladders to fix botched paths or dynamite to blow away tough enemies. Better tools mean deeper exploration.

SteamWorld Dig

Things get kind of rough as you reach deeper into this mine.

SteamWolrd Dig cleverly introduces new tools, moves and upgrades organically as Rusty goes deeper into the mine. By uncovering more caves, Rusty gets moves that make maneuvering through paths much easier while forcing players to think consciously about other elements that can halt exploration or escape. Initially, all Rusty has to worry about is running out of torchlight. Later, he has to keep a check on his water level, especially if he has to clear large gaps to return to an exit or if he needs to fight off tough enemies using stronger water-powered tools.

The game mixes exploration, platforming and combat in a clever way that always keeps digging through the mine at the foregront. Combat is always in service to facilitate digging deeper and carving out better paths. Sometimes avoiding enemies is best because it means less risk of death and losing all your stuff. However, often an enemy is right in the way of a cherry path you need and dispatching them is important to get more ore and clear a new path. SteamWorld Dig is an addictive experience that will keep you constantly trying to figure out better strategies every time you enter the mine.

Graphics and Sound

There is an overabundance of charm to the look of SteamWorld Dig. The mix of Western desolation and steampunk pseudo-futurism gives the town of Tumbleton a rich aesthetic. Tumbleton’s inhabitants and the look of the town help add depth to SteamWorld Dig’s minor story elements. It sells a sense of history for Tumbleton that is only made more evident by the mystery and mythos of the world lurking beneath the town.

SteamWorld Dig

The look of Tumbleton and its denizens sells the Steam Pun and Western vibes of the game extremely well.

As Rusty slowly digs through the soil and rock to reach new depths of his uncle’s mine, he uncovers fascinating areas full of steam turtles, metal maggots, dynamite-wielding zombies and more. The design of the enemies is full of the same personality given to the Tumbleton inhabitants, which gives them both a sense of place in their respective worlds.

The score is fantastic. It feels properly inspired by the work of Ennio Morricone, lending a sense of authenticity to the spaghetti western motif. It is also a delight to listen to when digging through various levels.


SteamWorld Dig is a damn fine game with a great mix of spaghetti western and steampunk themes. The game is easy to pick up and play with gameplay that is immediately understandable. While simple at first, there is a depth that reveals itself quickly as players start digging deeper into Tumbleton’s mine.

The art-style and graphics are charming, with eye catching splashes of color to the game’s dusty western setting. SteamWorld Dig also features a catchy Morricone-inspired score. SteamWorld Dig may seem like a trifle at first, but after gathering your first full sack of ore, it has its hooks in you. The game’s addictive gameplay won’t let go until you uncover the mystery of why Rusty’s uncle brought him to Tumbleton.


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
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Gaming Illustrated RATING



SteamWorld Dig gameplay may seem deceptively simple. Except it layers on depth as the game continues. As Rusty digs deeper into the mine, the player has more elements to worry about and more tools to utilize to continue progressing. It is a beautifully thematic way to implement gameplay progression.


From the design of Rusty to the various denizens of Tumbleton to the numerous enemies residing below the town, SteamWorld Dig features a fantastic art style. The look of Tumbleton and the different levels of the mine are distinctive and visually interesting.


SteamWorld Dig features a catchy Ennio Moricone-inspired soundtrack that matches the western theme of the game perfectly. It makes the hours players will spend digging a joy.

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