First things first — SteamWorld Dig is my favorite game on the Nintendo 3DS. Period. Above any of the Marios, Zeldas or anything else that has come out on that system so far. So you should now understand how much I love this game, and why I jumped at the chance to review the new Xbox One version from a fan’s point of view. If you too are a fan, you’re about to have all of your most pertinent questions answered: Does SteamWorld Dig lose anything in the jump from portable to console? Does it add enough? Is there a reason to play it again?
Here’s what I liked:
Digging — There is something just so sublime about the main focus of the gameplay — digging. It makes for a map that’s not quite randomly generated (something that’s very popular nowadays, and I’m not really a fan of), but it’s also not entirely pre-fabricated. In digging to find precious minerals tunneling a path to the next important area, you are essentially creating the game map that will stay for the remainder of your time with the game. Every playthrough will be different. It’s entirely unique, fun and creative.
Upgrades — Using collected minerals to pay for character upgrades allowing you to reach farther and farther into the mine has somewhat of a “Metroidvania” quality to it. The crazy thing here is just how much can be upgraded. Your pick, your drill, your weapons, your abilities, the amount of light you get, the amount of minerals you can carry, the amount of water you can hold, how much water is used for drilling… It just keeps going and going. The choices you make in your upgrades completely affect the strategies you’ll end up making as you progress throughout the game.
HD Graphics — Put simply, the graphics are gorgeous. This is the main upgrade in going from Nintendo’s handheld to Microsoft’s console, and it looks beautiful. The 3DS version made great use of the system’s glasses-free 3D capabilities, but Image and Form Games makes up for that with some really great parallax effects, and everything looks hand-drawn and wonderful here.
Sense of humor — It’s not constantly funny, but the bits that aim to make you laugh all land. Little pieces of dialogue from the people up on land are usually great, and there are little Easter eggs hidden throughout that are all very funny. One in particular piece of inside-joke video game humor made me laugh out loud. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll probably know it when you see it.
Just one more — Between the upgrades, the gameplay and the average length of time your light lasts, SteamWorld Dig has absolutely perfected the “just one more” aspect that is so key to games of its kin. That is to say, whenever you think you’re going to be done for the day, you’re going to want to take just one more trip down into the mine. And another. And another.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Not much new — So there are some Easter eggs, and the upgraded graphics, but overall, this is still basically the same game it is on the 3DS. Not that that’s even a real knock against it. I had a blast with my new playthrough, so, really, it didn’t need much new. But if I’m going to nitpick, I’d have liked to see a few more new additions. Also, I should add that while I finished my first time through with quite a great record of coins, orbs and speed, I still didn’t get everything. So there may be some new secrets waiting for me on my next playthrough. Hopefully, though, we’ll get a direct sequel soon. Of course, the SteamWorld series seems to change genre and gameplay with each sequel, so the already announced SteamWorld Heist doesn’t really look like it’s going to play quite like SteamWorld Dig.
Not 24 hours after my first playthrough with this new version of SteamWorld Dig, I’m already excited to give it another go. I played it through three times on the 3DS, and I’m sure I’ll be replaying it on Xbox One plenty. This is a game that perfectly suits my tastes. Everything about the production is quality from the beautiful artwork and music to the underlying ideas that drive SteamWorld Dig forward. Most of all, it’s just fun.
Score: Buy It
>SteamWorld Dig was developed and published by Image & Form Games on Xbox One. It was released on June 5th, 2015 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Image & Form Games for review purposes.