SteamWorld Dig 2 is a charming subterranean soiree
A certain little indie darling has been making many waves and headlines this week, and rightly so. The highly anticipated sequel to 2013’s Steamworld Dig, the new game delights by iterating upon the Dig-Dug/Metroidvania-style formula in almost every way. The most notable manner of which being the ingenious decision to craft each of the game’s subterranean levels by hand, rather than procedurally generate them.
An addictive resource-collecting 2D platformer which sees you to work your way through tunnel-by-tunnel with the help of your trusty pickaxe, Steamworld Dig 2 takes place almost immediately after the events of the first game. Here you play as Dorothy, a just generally lovable do-gooder robot, and what’s cool is that the crux of Steamworld Dig 2’s plot requires you to track down the previous game’s protagonist. You’ll smash and dig your way through many a mine and cavern, opening up more parts of the world as you go on your journey of discovery.
Progression works by having you continuously upgrade Dorothy’s gear and arsenal, acting as the primary means of letting you go deeper and deeper underground each time. All of this would be fine and dandy for your average 2D platformer, but where this adventure shines is in its enthralling steampunk western-inspired world and downright beautiful art-style. Many of today’s indies ride the line between being a PC flash game circa 2007 and a genuinely jaw-dropping piece of art. Steamworld Dig 2 thankfully falls into the latter.
I mentioned earlier that Steamworld Dig 2 is much more guided this time around, and this is to the game’s benefit in the sense that there’s never an overreliance on chance. Though you’re consistently urged to craft your own way through the game’s various swirling levels, there’s a constant sense of welcome direction, which allows the game to lean into being more of a Metroidvania than it ever otherwise could have previously.
You’ll regularly bump up against areas you can’t quite access yet, only to return later with a pickaxe that is much stronger, a jetpack that jumps much higher, and a lantern which burns much brighter. Take solace in the fact that Steamworld Dig 2 is the type of game that could very easily be considered every completionist’s wet dream, there is just so much to hunt down and go back for here.
In short, if gathering a near-unlimited number of collectables or making your way through new areas without knowing what’s around the next corner, there’s a lot you’ll dig about Steamworld Dig 2. In a year when we’re inundated with many a first-class video game experience, this “little sequel that could” manages to best the long-awaited Metroid entry at its own game, in a charming and fun-filled 2D adventure.