SteamWorld Dig (Wii U) Review

By Lex Firth 13.09.2014 2

Review for SteamWorld Dig on Wii U

SteamWorld Dig was something of an unexpected hit when it arrived on 3DS last summer. In fact, it's very likely that it would have failed to capture anyone's attention had it not been briefly touched on in a Nintendo Direct shortly before its release. That extra push of publicity, along with some rave reviews, however, led to it becoming quite a success on the Nintendo eShop and it's fair to say that those who have followed news of the game will already know exactly what to expect from this review: SteamWorld Dig is fantastically put together, and nothing is lost in the transition between consoles.

This is the Swedish developer Image & Form's fourth port of the mining adventure (after replications on PS4, PS Vita and - rather aptly - Steam) and is perhaps the console where it feels most at home. The adventures of Rusty, a steam-powered robot, in the depths of an all-but abandoned mining village look stunning in HD and the dual-screen control system works amazingly - it's essentially the best of both the past handheld and console versions of the game.

The basic premise of SteamWorld Dig is that Rusty has arrived in the town of Tumbleton to reclaim his uncle's old mine. Immediately after entering the abandoned goldmine, he discovers the robotic remains of Uncle Joe and immediately sets off on a spelunking adventure to discover what lies beneath the soil.

As it turns out, there are three distinct areas down there, each of which adds up to about an hour of overall game time. SteamWorld Dig is by no means a fifty-hour epic, but what it manages to pack into four or five hours (including backtracking to exchange mined ore for money) is brimming with a real sense of adventure that involves the player right from the get-go. Entering the silent, steely depths of the mine with little light left in Rusty's lamp, wondering whether to trek all the way to the top to refill on light, health and water or to continue heading downwards in the hope of finding a teleporter back up but at the risk of being thrust into pitch-black darkness is genuinely terrifying - a very difficult atmosphere to pull off in a 2D game with such a cartoonish art style.

Screenshot for SteamWorld Dig on Wii U

Players are treated by Image & Form as part of the experience, rather than a casual observer. SteamWorld Dig does away with irritating, immersion-breaking tutorials that are so frustratingly common in many modern games, instead opting to gradually feed new features in manageable, self-contained areas that provide contextual clues for the usage of items. Similarly, there is a fair level of control over the game's difficulty. Those looking for an easy ride can purchase ladders and teleporters, giving Rusty easy access to the surface world, whereas the more experienced players may opt to go it alone. Even the majority of the upgrades, such as faster and stronger weapons, are completely optional, meaning that SteamWorld Dig is as much of a challenge as the player wants it to be.

Unfortunately, the game is not without fault. Though the transition from 3DS to Wii U is near faultless, bringing with it a less cluttered HUD, as well as gorgeous 1080p spritework, an otherwise straight port means that some of the issues taken with the 3DS version remain unfixed. For instance, the world of Tumbleton could definitely have done with more development, with just four NPCs to its name, and very little in the way of interaction, other than the shops that they run. One would expect a game with as much character as SteamWorld Dig to provide a fittingly rich and lively script, and it sadly fails to deliver on that part. Likewise, the story feels undercooked - even across the four hours that we get with Rusty; there is definitely more that could be done. Throughout the game, characters build up intrigue for a large narrative payoff at the bottom of the mine, but the ending feels rushed and sudden.

All in all, SteamWorld Dig is still a fantastic game, just as it was on 3DS. Those who enjoyed the original version (or any of the other previous ports) will already know whether they wish to double-dip, and those who are new to the game will certainly want to start with this version - it's the cheapest and has had an extra year of refinement, making it the ultimate version of Image & Form's hit.

Screenshot for SteamWorld Dig on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Is SteamWorld Dig worth the hype it received last year? Almost definitely - Image & Form has put together an incredible game. Minor faults aside, this is by far the best version of the game and one that comes highly recommended. Those inclined to replay in order to achieve a "perfect run" should not be put off by the shortness - randomised mine layouts and simple-yet-satisfying gameplay prevent boredom from ever plaguing the adventure. Minor annoyances - more noticeable after four ports of the game - prevent the game from ever reaching indie perfection, but this is an experience not to be missed.

Developer

Image & Form

Publisher

Image & Form

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Cracking review - I need to get stuck into this one, definitely. Haven't had the chance yet and will likely pick it up on Wii U at somepoint.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
JeremyOK (guest) 28.11.2014#2

So addictive. I must be the worst player ever, though -- my first time through was 15 hours. Granted, that was going through it methodically, trying to find everything. But even the second time took about 8 hours of leisurely play. I'd say it's amazing value, especially considering how cheap it is.

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