Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review Steamworld Dig 2

With the belated review of No. 1 still in my mind, it was with great excitement that I started shoveling my way into Steamworld Dig 2. Many improvements are immediately obvious, the game has a lot more visual pop to it, blazing away on the Vita's OLED compared to the original's more muted tones. There's also a bit more lateral movement and a sense of the wider surface world to explore, with its own weather, providing the odd break from the usual digging down.

Our avatar has also changed, with heroine Dorothy (or Dot) taking on the role of the prospector in the quest for missing Rusty from the original. She soon finds a town of beaten-up droids and their optimistic mayor. He's sure the one-ratchet town will survive the growing trend of earthquakes, even as one local builds a rocket ship to get everyone out of there.

We are digging in a material world

Soon we're heading down into the mines, that are loaded with ores, secrets, treasure and portals to other parts of the world. Doors lead to puzzle areas where you can find a cog to improve your powers and a secret artefact that will encourage one of the townsfolk to give you blueprints to build more useful tools.

Exploring, mining or questing can be done together, or you can meticulously scour the mines of gems and secrets before moving to the next area. There are secrets everywhere, and a fair bit of back and forth is needed to track them down, so taking notes is recommended. Later blueprints in the game will give you tools to make finding things easier, but doing it yourself is far more rewarding.

Secret areas start out as just a hidden tunnel, cleverly located here or there, but soon you'll need to use tools or your enemies carefully, or pull off multi-step, multi-function leaps and swings with aplomb to find the buried loot. Getting a green "completed area" tick on the map when you finish off some of the tougher areas gives quite a sense of achievement.

Heading deeper, each section of map reveals some gorgeous detail and lighting to them, with a range of bizarre characters to meet along the way. One minor improvement is less reliance on water and light to power your journey, so there's a little less slogging back and forth for resources. But Steamworld Dig 2 generally remains faithful to all the fun bits of the original.

The game has a lot more trophies, making the journey feel more rewarding, while the higher value ones are still for various types of completion to appeal to the speed runner or collectors out there. Some games make it a drag when you have to revisit earlier levels, but SD2 is a delight, with new skills helping you solve previously impassable puzzles and finding all the cunningly hidden secrets!

Once you get to the lower levels, the bosses do toughen up a little, and there can be more a few more random deaths than some gamers would like, but stick with it. Hugely charming, with joyous music and suitably clanging sound effects, everything in SD2 is a delight, I'd save the last comment for the enemies, mostly cute and hapless but who through your blueprints can be made to explode causing cascades of damage and destruction that could be a fun mini-game in its own right.

May the Cult of the Destroyer bless Image and Form, and whatever they do next! I'd love it if they could update Steamworld Tower Defence to the Vita.

Score: 9/10
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Price: £15.99 (PSN)
Size: 160MB
Dev: Image and Form
Progress: Completed the story, all artefacts

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