Game Review: SteamWorld Dig (Switch)

Game Review: SteamWorld Dig (Switch)

With the weather heating up as we head into the Summer months, there’s no better time to scroll through the Switch eShop and look for a budget friendly title or two that you can enjoy on-the-go while you soak up that sunshine.

I didn’t have the chance to give SteamWorld Dig a play through when it arrived on various systems over the last five years. I missed it on the 3DS. I considered it, but never bought it, on the Wii U. And I genuinely didn’t even notice it on non-Nintendo consoles. So when I had the chance to review a five-year old game on the Switch, I was already aware of the popularity of the title and intrigued.

Tumbleton – population unknown. Feels pretty bare. But you can buy and trade, upgrade mining equipment and get all liquored up at the saloon. Robots drink booze, right? Right!

SteamWorld Dig does not disappoint. It’s the perfect blend of addicting gameplay mixed with simplicity that allows you to pick it up and play it in short bursts. For those uninitiated, you star as a steam-powered robot named Rusty who aims to explore and mine underneath the old Western town known as Tumbleton. Success hinges on how deep you can mine, tools become upgradable and while loot gets better, enemies also get tougher.

What makes SteamWorld Dig fun is that it feels, to me, like a Metroidvania/Minecraft hybrid. Developer and publisher Image & Form give you a 2D platforming environment to explore that has some depth to it. You can upgrade the pickaxe, use dynamite, set up waypoints and lanterns. Carrying capacity can be upgraded as well. The whole idea is to get deeper and deeper, explore more and gather up precious materials and ore. It’s fun and simple. Until it’s not.

Underground. This is where the magic happens. Upper left corner is your health bar and special abilities meter (which requires water). Bottom left corner is item you have equipped. Upper right corner is the super helpful map. Constantly surround you? Loot and bad guys.

Dying in SWD is the most problematic and frustrating part of the experience as you’d expect. You can mine yourself right into a dangerous area, die and the loot stays down where you died. You arrive back in Tumbleton, lacking resources and loot, and must decide whether or not to embark on a different mining quest or go retrieve the loot you just lost. Normally, I opted to go get my dang loot back. There were a few times, however, where I just realized the area I died presented an issue that rendered the goods irretrievable. Either I wouldn’t have enough coal for light or water for the special abilities to get back to the same place. And even if I could find it, getting out was going to be a chore as well. It’s always fun and simple. Until it’s not.

Secondary, aged character who allows upgrades and is named Cranky? Am I playing Donkey Kong? What’s going on here?! Word to the wise, get a dang teleporter. You’ll thank me later!

SteamWorld Dig was successful enough to spawn a spinoff called SteamWorld Heist and it also got a direct sequel, SteamWorld Dig 2, in 2017. And yet, if you are looking for a fun, addicting title that kills some time, it’s hard to go wrong with the game that started it all. Even five years after it’s release, SteamWorld Dig has value on any console you can find it. It runs beautifully on the Switch, it’s fun to play in bed or out on the go and it’s cheap enough that it’s a solid addition to the library. Should you enjoy SteamWorld Dig 2? Absolutely. But play and enjoy the original first.

The Good:

Simple game to get into
Feels kid friendly
Enough depth for all ages to enjoy

The Bad:

Older title (released in 2013)
Can get repetitive after extended play time
By and large, it’s not super challenging

Final Thoughts:

I struggled to come up with a score to give this title. It’s not really good enough for me to call it a 7 but I sort of feel like 6 is a little low. I’m very “6.5-ish” on this one, but alas, a decision has to be made. SteamWorld Dig on the Switch eShop isn’t a reinvention of the wheel and there’s not a ton to review here. This is a game you’ve probably seen on another console or played at this point. But if you haven’t given it a chance, it’s a solid pick up and good introduction to the rest of the SteamWorld titles.

Soup Verdict:

Leftover potato soup. It’s not fresh, but it’s never bad and you’re hardly in the mood to complain about having it.


Download code provided by Image and Form Games for the purpose of this review.