SteamWorld Dig, which originally released back in 2013 on many platforms, is the new Nintendo Switch eShop game from developer Image & Form is a breath of fresh air. An engrossing, subterranean adventure from start to finish with equal parts Mr. Driller and Metroid, SteamWorld Dig is a gem along with its sequel and spinoffs SteamWorld Dig 2 and SteamWorld Heist Ultimate Edition also on the Switch eshop.
You play Rusty, an old mining steambot who has been given the deeds to an old mine out in the Wild West. You start digging into the ground, finding gems and treasures and returning them to the town of Tumbleton on the surface. Tumbleton is a community in need. There are only a few robots living there, but as you bring more and more gems to the surface the town prospers and additional shops and citizens begin to pop up. But it's the action beneath the surface that you'll spend most of your time engaged in. Rusty starts the game with an awful pickaxe that can barely clear dirt out of the way, but as you progress you'll unlock upgrades, new digging tools, and additional equipment to keep your descent on course. The first half-hour even carries faint echoes of Terraria's lonely, laborious opening stages, as robot hero Rusty slowly chips away at the rock and dirt beneath a sparse desert settlement, hoping to uncover the remnants of a long-dead human civilization. Your first trips underground are short and uneventful: your lantern will run out of light fairly quickly, while the dormant enemies that burrow towards you should you disturb them can take hefty chunks out of your small health meter.
You'll climb back up within minutes, toting a meagre haul of cheap ore back to town and selling it for cash that pays for items, with a cumulative total unlocking fresh upgrades at certain milestones. The pace begins to pick up once you get hold of Rusty's drill. You'll chew through dirt quicker and start plotting routes towards the pockets of water you need to absorb in order to run it. Then you'll get a steam-powered punch that makes light work of regular tiles, allowing you to move deeper faster, towards more expensive minerals. A charge-jump makes trips back to base less arduous, as do portable teleports that allow you to return to the deepest point you reached.
SteamWorld does very little to hold your hand in terms of direction, so exploration is the key to success. Controls are easy to learn and precise. It will take quite a while to upgrade the pick axe and lantern to the point of comfort and maxing out Rusty’s gear before the final boss battle is a challenge to behold. As good an experience as SteamWorld Dig is, it’s most certainly not the longest game. At around four hours, SteamWorld Dig is a concise game that deserves credit for not outstaying its welcome. SteamWorld Dig is a fine “platform/mining adventure” with super right controls in addition to a great story. For a downloadable title at only $9, you will get an experience well worth the asking price and you’ll definitely want to get the sequel and spin off!