SteamWorld Dig 2 Switch Review

Publisher: Image & Form  Developer: Image & Form  Genre: Platformer, Action Adventure

Players: 1  Age Rating: 7+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4, PS Vita

We start SteamWorld Dig 2 by being introduced to the new protagonist, Dorothy, whose mission is to find the whereabouts of Rusty, the main character of the original game and who has since gone missing. SteamWorld Dig 2 doesn’t stray too far from the formula of its original game, but here the story has been given much more emphasis, and whilst gameplay is still enjoyable, it doesn’t feel quite as fluid as SteamWorld Dig.

Areas are varied, with each made to make use of your different tools.

In SteamWorld Dig, gameplay was very much front and centre, simply digging deeper and deeper and admiring how the underground environments would subtly change the further down you went. Gameplay was undisturbed very little, and the repeated, rhythmic action of digging became quite soothingly addictive.

In SteamWorld Dig 2, however, gameplay is interrupted by the story, by the need for Dorothy to speak to other people in order to progress or access another area. Dorothy isn’t restricted to one mining area either – this time around maps are more spread out as opposed to linear and deep, and at times Dorothy will need to go back to the surface and enter another mine via another entrance, so instead of gameplay having you dig deeper and deeper, you’ll find yourself at the surface more times than is probably wanted. There was a mystique with SteamWorld Dig, the wonder of what you’ll find the further down you go, the changing enemies and the goodies that you’ll find, and that sense is sadly lost in this sequel.

That’s not to say areas aren’t varied; there are numerous underground caves to explore, puzzles to find and complete, and you’ll still be digging to your hearts content. Enemies are varied, though it can feel like the placement of enemies and obstacles is very random, with some areas littered with one type of obstacle as though the developer copied and pasted the sprite without any real thought; needless to say, pacing can feel very wonky.

There’s a big cast of characters; none are particularly memorable, but do their job just the same.

Of course, you won’t be able to mine without tools, and Dorothy comes with a plethora of items to use, though, of course, she doesn’t have access to all of them immediately. Upgrading is back and, again, when you dig and find ore and metals, you can take it back and sell it to one of the townsfolk. Speaking to another townsfolk will give you access to their tool bench, allowing you to upgrade any time you want. The money you receive from selling the ore you find will be used to pay for upgrades, but even when you get an upgrade, you still need cogs to use them.

Here is where there is a slight alteration to the upgrading system; you can use cogs to choose what add-on you want to use on your tools. Using cogs on a particular add-on isn’t permanent either – you can actually remove a cog, and use it for another add-on, allowing more customisation of your tools. As an example, a cog can be used for an add-on for the pick axe, but later you may want to use a cog for a more powerful add-on, and so you can decide to remove the cog from the pick axe and make use of it in another way. This allows you to vary the way you use your tools, and customise them for better use in different situations.

Dorothy also isn’t alone in her mission – she is accompanied by a glowing blue pixellated Chao-like head called Fen, who has an unhealthy appetite for destruction. The robots of the town have been thriving since the original game, and many help Dorothy with her quest, allowing her to sell her finds to them, buy extra cogs, exchange artefacts for blue prints. You have extra characters that are there for plot points or banter. Mostly, characters are there to do a job, with none that are particularly memorable, though they do what they are expected to do and make the world feel lived in.

You’ll find machines that will grant you new tools, which you can then upgrade.

Playing on the Switch, both on the console and on the TV, the picture looks clear and crisp. There are a few odd button choices, such as using Y and B together to make Dorothy jump further, making it feel as though one hand is doing more work than the other, and with an assortment of tools to use, it can take some time to adjust to what tool is programmed to what button.

I still found playing SteamWorld Dig 2 a joy to play, and very addictive, but not quite as immersive as the original. The story here is to blame, as it keeps interrupting the flow of the gameplay by having you constantly enter and exit the mines – SteamWorld Dig was a game where you could really get stuck in to the gameplay, but here you are required to break that immersion to wander off to other areas and speak to certain characters.

Like I said, it is still addictive gameplay – once you start playing, the simplicity pulls you in once again and there’s still enough digging and mystery to keep you invested, and with the game’s play time being significantly longer, there’s certainly more for you to do.