It’s no secret that we here at Niche Gamer love the games from the creative team over at Image and Form. Starting out on the DSiWare back in 2010 with SteamWorld Tower Defense, the SteamWorld series has been captivating people ever since with its unique world and I’m happy to tell you that SteamWorld Dig 2 is no different.
SteamWorld Dig 2
Publisher: Image & Form
Developer: Image & Form
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC, Playstation Vita, Nintendo Switch(Reviewed)
Release Date: September 21th, 2017
Players: Single Player
SteamWorld Dig 2 is simply gorgeous. The art direction is on point and designed in such a way that if you look back on the game in 20 years, you will still find it beautiful and interesting. The NPC and Enemy designs are unique and colorful, just like the areas they inhabit. Specifically for the Nintendo Switch (the preferred platform in my opinion), the game looks great in handheld mode as well as on a giant 42 inch TV. Generally this is a hard thing to juggle when you account for UI placement, but SteamWorld Dig 2 manages to pull it off flawlessly.
The world design is stellar: filled with secrets and power ups for the player to discover, collect and enjoy. It’s always fun to see what type of items are scattered across the world in this dystopian future, given the descriptions and information you gleam from them.
Power ups and abilities look and feel like they belong in this world, with a consistent design standard present throughout. With significantly more colorful and improved designs, fans of the original SteamWorld Dig will find a more grounded visual experience when it comes to all aspects of the game.
SteamWorld Dig 2 gameplay is remarkably tight and responsive. Controls seem to know exactly what I want them to do, allowing for some great precision control challenges that come with the territory. If you are good enough, you can get access to areas early while free roaming the world.
One thing that is great about the gameplay is its ability to tailor your experience to whatever you really want it to be within the game, including some options you did not know you wanted until you unlocked them. Do you want to stumble across areas in a more fluid experience or do you want to have clear and direct objectives? Do you want to take the risk of deadlier enemies for more rewards? How about making it so every enemy turns into a Michael Bay film, exploding upon death? Maybe all of the above? SteamWorld Dig 2 allows you to do all of the above, depending on your skill and ability to explore the world.
Fans of the original SteamWorld Dig will also find a more refined experience: power ups, secrets, and general abilities feel more sensible and practical for the world. I am looking at you Steam Punch. This added practicality also makes for some more interesting puzzles experiences, as the perimeters are clearer for what you can and can’t do.
When it comes to combat and bosses there are rarely wrong answers outside of reason, but killing monsters with the environment has to be the most satisfying way of going about it. There’s nothing quite like gathering a hoard of bugs in one hole and dropping a giant bolder on them.
Sound design and music are rather relaxed, which pairs with the exploration aspect nicely, giving an “at your own pace” feel. This allows for sound cues for hit detection and general world information to come through clearer, allowing you to know what happened just off screen and how far it was. This helps when trying to recognize if an enemy just fell into water or a pit of lava below you. Its well balanced, and overall sets the pace of the game.
The story centers around Dorothy, Dot for short, who is looking for her friend Rusty, the protagonist of first game, after he goes missing following the events of SteamWorld Dig. Along the way she meets Fen, a wise cracking spirit like entity with an affinity for destruction.
Without getting into spoilers, it has to be said that SteamWorld Dig 2 rounds out the SteamWorld story in a nice and clean way. It must be stated that the lasting implications of the game get pretty dark, especially for a game as humorous, colorful and lighthearted as this. It should also be noted that those who are fans of the series and have played Steamworld Heist and its DLC, will be pleasantly surprised.
With all of that said, the characters are well designed and have interesting personalities to match. In general there are no boring characters here and every NPC adds to the flavor of the game. This also goes for the Artifacts you can find across the world, as they all seem to have interesting descriptors which just add to the personality of the game and story.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is an amazing game and a must own if you have a Nintendo Switch. It takes everything its predecessor did right, refines it, then presents it to the player in one of the cleanest packages I have seen in a long while. It buries its competition in the metroidvania genre and stands as an example of what others games in the genre should be, instead of what they are. Go pick this one up.
The Verdict: 10
- Great art and design.
- Beautify detailed world with great exploration.
- Interesting but not overpowered upgrades.
- Ability to really customize your own experience.
- Interesting boss battles.
- Great music and sound design.
- Best Game on the Switch so far.