I am a big fan of Steamworld Dig – cowboy robots, a wild-west setting and mining, what’s not to love? I put the pickaxe down for a while to play Steamworld Heist but now it is time to go underground again. I have been ready to head back down the mines from the moment Steamworld Dig 2 was announced.
Steamworld Dig 2 carries on from where the original left. Hands up who can’t remember what happened? Both of my hands are up but anyway, it seems Rusty never came back from his adventures and was presumed to have ended up in the scrap heap in the sky. Or underground really. Dorothy wasn’t convinced and there have been some sightings which could have been Rusty so off she goes to try and find out what happened. And she will need your help for that.
Dorothy stumbles across a settlement very early on in her quest. Talking to the residents it becomes clear that they are troubled by some unnatural earthquakes and perhaps there is a link to Rusty. This makes Dorothy even more determined to find out what happened to Rusty and the only way to do that is to head underground. This time round we have a hand-crafted underground world rather than procedurally generated one and this makes for a better experience.
As before, the game starts off relatively slow. You are equipped with a pickaxe for some digging and a lantern for some light. You can use the lantern to light other lanterns underground to improve the general lighting but in the early parts of the game you will be heading back to the surface to recharge your lantern often.
You will find plenty of gems underground which you can sell to the mining community and then use the funds to buy upgrades. Your backpack can only hold a finite amount of gems so along with the lantern, you will find yourself heading back to the surface a lot in the early parts of the game which doesn’t help with the slow start. Once you upgrade your backpack and the lantern then you can really get going without this distraction.
At various points you can unblock pipes which can be used as a fast travel mechanism back to the surface. The map area in the game is quite large and goes rather deep so these transport pipes will become invaluable as you explore further and deeper.
There are some dangers lurking underground. Firstly there are a couple of rock types that will fall if you dig under them leading to a crushed Dorothy if you don’t get out of the way quick enough. The larger of these rocks will certainly help clear a path down the way though. And of course, you can use the rocks to take out some of the nasties that are lying in wait. You will also have to contend with dangerous environmental elements such as lava which is a little hot for our metal friend.
Steamworld Dig 2 is a game where it pays to explore rather than just heading to destination of your story goal. As well as more gems to be found there are also cogs out there. These are used for upgrades to your equipment and abilities. There is a surprising menu of items to apply the cogs too and handily you can reset and spend again to suit. Some of the cogs are relatively easy to spot but the challenge remains to actually get to them which isn’t always obvious and you may not even have the ability to reach what you have found until further into the game.
You will obtain various additional abilities as you progress through story. Some of these are a variant on what we had in the first game such as the hammering fist to get through tougher rock instead of the drill. A couple of interesting new additions are the grapple hook and the jet pack. Both of these come in handy for heading upwards where you’ve perhaps not been very careful with your digging. The jet pack has a very limited usage time before needing recharged so miner fans can rest assured knowing that they won’t be flying about everywhere. As before, many of the abilities are steam powered (hence the “Steam” in the title) and will require water to fuel them. Your water supplies can be refuelled with little pockets or pools of water underground.
As you dig deeper you will come across a variety of caves/excavations which offering some additional challenges and some of these can be rather challenging and full of peril.
In addition to the cogs there are also artefacts to find and collect. One of the robots on the surface will unlock extra power-ups each time you collect and return a certain amount of these hidden goodies. There is certainly a bit more to do outside of the main quest and money earning when compared to the first game.
Graphically the game is more detailed than the original and looks great on the Switch screen. The charm of the characters we are used to from Steamworld remains with a wide variety of robot design and personalities. Dorothy has a little companion for her journey whose conversation shows how much he likes a bit of destruction. Possibly not reassuring chat when deep underground but an amusing touch.
Steamworld Dig 2 is a refinement on the original but certainly has enough differences to make it all feel fresh and avoid that ‘more of the same’ feeling. There is no shortage of things to do, particularly if you are aiming for 100% which apparently comes with a bonus award. An epic underground adventure and a highly enjoyable game. Image & Form are rapidly becoming a favourite developer of mine.