Rusty’s missing, wandering the desert after destroying the Vectron. Most have moved on, but Dot refuses to do so, embarking on her own deep digging adventure to rescue her friend and maybe save the world in the process. This is Steamworld Dig 2.
Developer: Image & Form Games
Publisher: Image & Form Games
Release Date: September 2017
Played Main story
Purchase At: Steam
Steamworld Dig 2 picks up a few months after the end of the first game. Rusty wanders the land, digging holes and finding secrets, but no one know exactly where he is and the only thing Dot has to go on are rumours and impressions he left in his wake. While everyone else has given up on him, even moved on seeking new fortunes, she’s determined to find him. An earthquake soon kicks off her quest and puts her face to face with a remnant of Vectron technology, a small sprite called Fen, who becomes her unwilling assistant and ultimately best friend.
Steamworld Dig 2’s story is great, with tons of people and places to uncover and a mystery that slowly builds up, with enough red herrings along the way to make you certain you know what’s going to happen and who the main villain is, until something else happens and you’re back to square one. I loved the villain, loved the motivation and what it implies for the world of these gentle bots.
Steamworld Dig 2 has a larger cast of weird robots, each with their own unique personality and quirks, some of them appalling in their morals and others just funny as hell. But if there’s one thing about the characterisation that I adore is that it fleshes out the humans. In its predecessor, Steamworld Dig, humans were nothing but enemies, just deranged mooks running around with dynamite sticks.
While that is still somewhat true in Steamworld Dig 2, there is also a human colony deep in the bowels of the earth, and you don’t fight these characters but speak to them, learn of their plight, find out they’re addicted to Moon Juice, which is essentially moonshine made with radioactive waste. It’s disgusting, but it’s what post-apocalyptic humans gotta do!
Steamworld Dig 2 is an exploration adventure game at its heart, with lots to uncover as you dig your way down dusty mine shafts, irradiated jungles, ancient fiery temples and even the remnants of the Vectron underworld, where sprites much like Fen possess horrendous mechs and pursue you relentlessly. Steamworld Dig 2 is the first game in a long time with a forced stealth segment that I didn’t found appalling. It’s functional and quite fun, with a touch of horror to it that just adds some wonderful tension.
There is so much under the city of El Machino—it’s a ridiculous Spanglish name but it makes me laugh—from ore and gemstones to challenge rooms for upgrade cogs, upgrades for your equipment and ancient relics of the past. I thought I had found it all, but by the end I realised I had only scratched the surface of what Steamworld Dig 2 had to offer. In fact, Image & Form games have stated there is additional post-ending content if you get there with full completion.
I mentioned upgrades and the ones in this game are perhaps double the amount of those you’d find in Steamworld Dig. You get the obligatory ones, such as jackhammer and the dash, but there are thrusters, better armour, an improvement on one of them that allows you to push through blocks on your way up, essentially allowing you to destroy blocks in mid-air, and even remotely detonated bombs that make the dynamite from the first game look like a joke.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can further upgrade everything you find with golden cogs. These you get from completing challenge rooms and finding them in secrets paths in the different sections and rooms, and you can unlock special abilities with them, such as making loot shine in the dark, or improving the damage you do to enemies with the pickaxe. By the time I was done with the game I had unlocked most of them, not all, and it’s the kind of upgrade that feels meaningful because it changes the rhythm and style of play considerably.
If there’s one thing that Steamworld Dig 2 didn’t deliver on, it’s the bosses, but not on their quality and design which is really strong, especially the last boss, but the quantity. There are many instances in the game where your objective consists solely on busting a machine, when they could’ve used the opportunity and given you many more bosses to fight. Image & Form games have a knack for boss fights, combining the digging platforming and bullet hell mechanics into memorable fights, so I just wanted many more of them.
Visually it’s even more colourful than the first game, the colours vibrant and the animation crisp and beautiful. But what I like the most about it, and which is a constant in Image & Form games is how distinct they make the environments feel. Each section of the mines has its own unique theme, and the radioactive jungle in particular is my favourite, with great mechanical, visual and audio design.
Music is just great, with some fun jaunty melodies that remind you of the old west, but with a modern touch that helps cement this post-apocalyptic robotic world. There’s an element of electronic music and heavy percussion that just makes me think a robot composed the music in some distant corner of the old west.
Steamworld Dig 2 is a phenomenal game and is an example of how sequels should be, better than the original, building upon its successes and striving for new heights. Now give me Steamworld Heist 2 and I’ll be a happy bot!
5/5 – Hell Yes!