SteamWorld Dig 2 is an adventure platformer available from retail stores for PS4 and for download from the PlayStation Store for PS4 and PS Vita. The SteamWorld series began in 2010 with a real-time strategy tower defense game titled SteamWorld: Tower Defense, while SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt took the series in the direction of an adventure platformer having released on a variety of platforms in 2013 prior to the PS4 and Vita versions in 2014 before going onto receiving many nominations for a variety of categories in multiple Game of the Year Awards such as Best Original Game, Best Indie Game, Best Handheld Game and Overall Game of the Year 2013. SteamWorld Dig 2 is the direct sequel to SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt, although a game set within the side-scrolling turn-based action strategy genre titled SteamWorld Heist was released in late 2015 through 2016 on numerous platforms including PS4 and Vita that was also met with critical acclaim; which really showcases the quality of the series. Can SteamWorld Dig 2 surpass not only the quality of its direct prequel, but also the entire SteamWorld series?
The story revolves around Dorothy McCrank searching for the lead character named Rusty from SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt who has went missing. Dorothy quickly stumbles upon a sign advertising for miners in an area to the east known as El Machino in which she pursues in desperation of hopefully finding Rusty.
Character design is intriguing as Dorothy meets a lot of friendly and not so friendly robots along her journey, while enemy design is varied as there are bugs that scutter back and forth, cactuses that fire out a group of thorns when touched by anything, crazy birds that scream as they are in pursuit of Dorothy, insane snails that roll around firing out projectiles and more besides.
Dorothy is capable of learning new skills that allow her to explore previously out of reach areas such as sprint hydraulics enabling faster movement combined with higher jumps, a map of the surrounding environment provided by the first boss after being defeated, a jackhammer that drills through harder rocks which is powered by water, a hook shot that allows a rope to be thrown onto a surface to pull her up onto significantly higher platforms and much more besides.
In-game currency requires the player to essentially sell various types of ore collected in the mines in order to be able to afford the costs of equipment upgrades that enable further progression into the mines. As you are digging your way through the mine you will find trashium, copper, cinnabar, ironium, cornflorium and much more, which is made up of various diamonds that the town requires as it will be purchased by Barnacle Jones. For instance, a tier 2 backpack provides one extra slot for ores and gems costing $8, while a tier 2 lamp reduces fuel consumption to prolong the duration of lighting surrounding environments for a price of $20, alongside a tier 2 pickaxe made of iron that increases digging efficiency at a price of $25 and much more besides that are gradually unlocked. However, upgrading equipment does not end there as there are multiple tiers worth of upgrades that gradually increases in pricing and cogs can be collected and assigned to provide an entire additional set of upgrades per item of equipment.
XP is earned by defeating enemies that roam the mines with at least 200XP required before levelling up. Levelling up is important as rewards are gained such as a bonus for every sale of ore increasing by 5% for each occasion the player levels up; therefore providing more in-game currency to purchase upgrades resulting in faster progression through the mines.
Environment design is more diverse than anticipated as there is a desert with high winds in places, a bustling town, mines full of ore, even a mysteriously overgrown garden and more besides, while the majority of environments include entrances to caves and secret areas that usually contain artifacts.
SteamWorld Dig 2 supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase, although there is no cross-save functionality; resulting in players on Vita not being able to continue with their upgraded equipment and abilities from the PS4 version and vice versa.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller as they are rather simple to master and are fully customisable as every action can be re-mapped to any button, analogue stick or the touch pad. The default control scheme consists of pressing X to jump or repeatedly pressing to wall jump; holding square to run or holding square and pressing X to perform a running jump; pressing O to dig through the dirt and rocks with your pickaxe or attack nearby enemies with your pickaxe; pressing triangle to use a tool or skipping dialogue; pressing L1 or L2 to use the jackhammer to change a tool; pressing R1 or R2 to use a hook shot; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move Dorothy; moving the left analogue stick upwards or pressing up on the d-pad to interact with certain items and start talking to nearby people; holding the left analogue stick upwards or holding up on the d-pad to look up or climb ladders; holding the left analogue stick downwards or holding down on the d-pad to look down or climb ladders; moving the left analogue stick to the left or right or pressing left or right on the d-pad to move Dorothy to the left or right; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad to talk to Dorothy’s companion, while vibration occurs when entering water, hitting a rock that will not break and selling ore that had been gathered in the mines, although there is no light bar support which could have provided an alternative HUD by producing varying tones of colour to represent Dorothy’s health. Vita controls are equally appropriately mapped as using the jackhammer is re-mapped to L and using the hook shot is mapped to R, alongside pressing select for Dorothy to talk to her companion, although there is no touch screen or rear touch pad support which both could have provided an alternative to Dorothy’s movement by swiping in the relevant direction in addition to tapping the touch screen or rear touch pad to use the pickaxe on a selected rock.
Graphically, SteamWorld Dig 2 retains the cel-shaded graphical art style to an even more incredible quality complimented by fluent character and enemy animations, excellent lighting and shadows, alongside graphics and performance on Vita that genuinely achieves PS4 standards of finesse.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, difficulty level menus, options menus, extras menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds feature Dorothy reading a letter as she sits next to a campfire situated opposite to the town and mines of El Machino during a beautiful night sky directly overhead and the sunset in the far distance.
There are no voice-overs as the humorous dialogue is presented in speech bubbles, rather than any voice-overs as you will only hear some brief robotic sounds. Sound effects include Dorothy’s pickaxe grinding away at the rock and dirt, Dorothy walking or running along the ground, jumping between platforms, sliding down the sides of walls, any falling rocks and boulders from when you dig out from beneath them and enemies attacking; complimented by an instrumental soundtrack that certainly fits the subject matter. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which could have produced a multitude of sound effects.
The trophy list includes 35 trophies with 18 bronze trophies, 12 silver trophies, 4 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include The Guiding Light bronze trophy for defeating the first boss and the A Mysterious Garden bronze trophy for entering Yarrow and discovering a strangely verdant area. Harder trophies include the Speedrunner silver trophy for finishing the game with a gold star in the time category without being told how fast that needs to be; the Explorer silver trophy for finishing the game with a gold star in the secrets category; the Hardcore silver trophy for finishing the game with a gold star in the deaths category without your character dying; the Gold Farmer silver trophy for finishing the game with a gold star in the wealth category; and the Impossible Dream gold trophy for finishing the game with a gold star in every category. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are two difficulty levels including easy and normal, although there are no noticeable differences other than Dorothy’s health reducing easier when coming up against enemies or falling a little more than anticipated between two platforms on normal difficulty in comparison to easy difficulty.
There is no local or online multiplayer component which is a missed opportunity as the Vita version could have had cross-play functionality with the PS4 version, alongside split-screen and online co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 4 players digging through the mine and caves as multiple players would be able to share the experience of such wide open exploration. There are also no online leaderboards which could have displayed leaderboards for the worth of the ore collected with the positioning of the leaderboards based upon the amount of dollars each player had earned.
SteamWorld Dig 2’s replayability stems from being rewarded for defeating enemies by gaining XP to level up Dorothy’s bonus for selling ore, upgrading equipment and learning new abilities to progress further into the mines, collecting artifacts, two difficulty levels and categorised performance rewards that will collectively bring players back for a considerable period of time.
- Title: SteamWorld Dig 2
- Developer: Image & Form
- Publisher: Image & Form (Digital)/Rising Star Games (Retail)
- System: PS4/PS Vita
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4/PS Vita)
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Memory Card Space Required: 195MB/Hard Drive Space Required: 279MB (Version 1.01)