[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”SteamWorld Dig” developers=”Image & Form” publishers=”Image & Form” platforms=”Nintendo 3DS eShop” genres=”Western Adventure” release_date=”Available Now”]
SteamWorld Dig, the new 3DS eShop game from Swedish developer Image & Form is a breath of fresh air. An engrossing, subterranean adventure from start to finish with equal parts The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Dig Dug and Metroid, SteamWorld Dig is a gem among other 3DS downloadable games.
Taking place in a distant future where mankind is merely legend, SteamWorld puts you into the mining boots of Rusty the Steambot, a stranger who recently inherited an old mine from his uncle. Equal parts Clint Eastwood and C-3PO, Rusty arrives at the steam punk infused ghost town of Tumbleton ready to get to work and find out what his relative has been doing down in the depths for so many years.
Tumbleton doesn’t stay deserted for long, for as you continue to explore the mine and make the town more profitable, more and more shopkeepers will arrive, prepared to take your hard earned money in exchange for a myriad of cool upgrades. The character design is truly delightful, with every citizen oozing personality through their unique composition. Dialogue can be charming as well, with some great jokes to be found through conversation with the various inhabitants of the small mining town.
The upgrade system is what transforms SteamWorld into something truly special. At the start, all you have at your disposal is a basic pick axe and it can be quite some time before you’re truly able to explore the underground with ease. Since you play as a miner it only makes sense that you have to constantly dig for minerals and precious stones such as standard gold and the giggle inducing Unobtainium. These treasures are then exchanged at the town bank for cash that is put towards new equipment and other exploration tools necessary to make it to the deepest levels of the mine.
The Castlevania/Metroid aspects really swing into full gear once you gain access to the various new “weapons” and abilities available. As with those classic games, SteamWorld does very little to hold your hand in terms of direction, so exploration is the key to success. Controls are easy to learn and precise with the 3DS CirclePad being the preferred way to drill your way to untold riches. It will take quite a while to upgrade the pick axe and lantern to the point of comfort and maxing out Rusty’s gear before the final boss battle is a challenge to behold.
As good an experience as SteamWorld Dig is, it’s most certainly not the longest game. I reached the Big Bad in roughly six and a half hours and although you can keep exploring afterwards to gather any unfound gems or powerups, the lack of a New Game Plus mode was disheartening. After completion I couldn’t help but wonder what Image & Form could achieve with a full-fledged console release and if this game is any indication, the results should be stellar.
SteamWorld Dig is a fine “platform/mining adventure” with super right controls in addition to a great story. Though it can be beaten in just a few hours, for a downloadable title at only $9, you will get an experience well worth the asking price and you’ll probably have a blast along the way. It should be interesting to see what Image & Form can dig up next.