SteamWorld Dig and Why You Should Own It

steamworld dig 3ds review

Allow me to begin by stating that as both a video game journalist and as a gamer, I hold indie titles with a different regard than those AAA titles released by large publishers and developers. To me, the indie game is a much more intimate creation. It is both advantageous and disadvantageous that a smaller group of people work on the game. On the one hand, it can be advantageous in the respect that the size constraint of the team allows for innovative and unique aspects of the game. On the other hand, it can limit the game enough to the point where it is just not enjoyable.

Enter SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt.

With a brief opening cinematic, we are introduced into our trusty steamboat aptly named Rusty. We are immediately thrusted into a mine Rusty has inherited from his uncle in the shy western town of Tumbleton. From the get go, you control Rusty as you search for your uncle in the mine (note: minimal spoilers!). While in the mine, you meet Dorthy, another steambot resident of Tumbleton who will aide you in your plight to find your way out of the mineshaft. After donning your uncle’s old pickaxe, you can begin to chip away at the blocks of earth that impede your way.

How it controls

Control-wise, SteamWorld dig features astonishingly tight controls for a 3DS game. As you progress, Rusty will gain new abilities such as double jumps or being able to drop down large distances without taking damage. My only wish was being able to jump and break a block of earth to get to some ore that I missed, but then perhaps it would be too easy. Beyond that, I found no issues with SteamWorld Dig’s controls.

Challenge & Re-playability

One thing that I found myself doing in SteamWorld Dig was dying. And I loved it. Whether it was running out of light to see my surroundings and being taken down by a mine critter or breaking the wrong block and being crushed by a giant boulder, I found myself returning to where I died to retrieve my precious dropped loot that I had previously spend the last 30 minutes mining. Situations can be tense; you can be far deep into the mine, one bar of health, no water, and I can guarantee you’ll find yourself praying that mine critter you’re going to kill drops a health pickup. SteamWorld Dig is by no means unplayable or not passable, but it offers a fresh challenge to the tried and true formulas we have all played before.

In terms of re-playability, the game does not do much to get you to play the game again. After completing the story, SteamWorld Dig always returns you to fight the final boss over and over again. What you can do is try to beat your previous time by doing a speedrun, but beyond that is not much to do. Nevertheless, you may still find yourself coming back to fulfill those mining urges you’ve been having…

Sound and Music

While playing Steamwold Dig, I noticed that the main tune you hear in the mine is well… repetitive. Though SteamWorld Dig’s soundtrack leaves much to be desired, the sound effects throughout the game prove themselves to be effective enough. All in all, the score and audio to SteamWorld dig does create a sort of ambient atmosphere to it, but it is too repetitive to be considered extraordinary. This is one area in which SteamWorld could have improved upon.

Game Design & Mechanics

SteamWorld Dig at its base is a 2D platformer/puzzle game, but it is also much more. RPG elements like character and item upgrades allow you to navigate and carve your path through the mine. The deeper you dig, the more your upgrades will prove useful. During your excavations, you will find continually fine rare (and not so rare) ores that you can bring back up to the surface to exchange for cash to spend on upgrades. You will dig deep to find enemies along the way, but will also have to watch your light source meter, and have to find water deposits to use special abilities such as your hydro-powered drill.

Besides the standard single player story, I couldn’t help but feeling like the game could have had more. Multiplayer comes to mind, how awesome would it be to play against 3 other friends in a game mode where everyone fights against the time to find the most resources, all the while attacking each other. Another aspect that could improve SteamWorld Dig is the inclusion of more boss fights. Without spoiling anything, having more bosses would have been a refreshing experience instead of fighting the same enemies over and over again. Graphically, the game is visually defined. Crisp visuals can be evident across all the platforms SteamWorld Dig is available on. The 3D also works well, and isn’t so jarring that it will make the game unplayable. Fans of the western or steampunk genre will find the game’s setting welcoming and familiar.

Why You Should Own It

So with this premise, how does it all tie into what I said about indie titles? SteamWorld Dig is one of those indie gems that are both innovative and unique. When I first sat down to played it, I immediately thought of the Namco classic, Dig Dug. SteamWorld, however, is much more than just your run-of-the-mill 2D platformer. SteamWorld Dig features a challenging experience for both those who do and do not seek it. You will find yourself enjoying SteamWorld Dig for hours as you search the mine for its precious ores in what seems like an endless effort to upgrade your equipment. If you haven’t played SteamWorld Dig yet, do so immediately. For $8.99, you can’t go wrong and will find yourself craving more.


SteamWorld Dig 2 anyone…?

SteamWorld Dig and Why You Should Own It
SteamWorld Dig features a challenging experience for both those who do and do not seek it. You will find yourself enjoying SteamWorld Dig for hours as you search the mine for its precious ores in what seems like an endless effort to upgrade your equipment. If you haven’t played SteamWorld Dig yet, do so immediately.
  • Visually impressive and great 3D presentation
  • Tight controls and well crafted mechanics
  • Addictive gameplay and challenge
  • Soundtrack is repetitve
  • Lack of additional game modes (multiplayer)
  • Not much incentive to replay the game after finishing
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (11 Votes)
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About The Author

Game Reviewer

My name is Anthony A, I am 20 years old and I am currently a 2nd year college student studying English. In my spare time, I am usually occupying my time with video games (Super Smash Bros is my favorite) or the internet. I've been a fan of Nintendo ever since the Gameboy and N64 came out. Not much else to add about me, send me an email (or tweet) if you ever have any questions about anything!