SteamWorld Dig 2 - Review

Author: Francesco "Checco" Destri
Date: 2020-07-30 22:01:01
Metroidvania, Rick Dangerous, Lemmings, Terraria. These are the first four references that came to my mind after the first hour of gameplay spent with SteamWorld Dig 2, sequel to the great and unexpected success of 2013 (the spin-off SteamWorld Heist, on the other hand, is a completely different thing) with which Image & Form back to entertain and explore in a delicious and colorful far west steampunk that I would like to find much more often as a videogame setting.

Having played both of the previous titles in the series, it was no surprise to find myself in these mines full of dangers, enemies and treasures to be recovered, without forgetting that the Swedish team did not want to risk and in fact offers the same game formula as the first chapter. Yet SteamWorld Dig 2 takes that little indie miracle from four years ago and greatly expands it, deepens it and adds all those more or less big and important elements that fans have been asking for since the days of Rusty's adventures.

Rusty who, vanished into thin air at the end of the first episode, gave way as protagonist to the little robot Dorothy, also an expert miner (we had known her on SteamWorld Dig) and willing to do anything to find her friend who disappeared. The gameplay, as mentioned, has remained good or bad that of four years ago. You have to explore the subsoil with picks and explosives making your way between more or less resistant blocks, enemies of various kinds, platforms, some puzzles, treasures and minerals to collect and secret areas to discover.

This time the levels are no longer procedural and this has allowed the developers to concentrate more on their design and to refine it at best, with the result of more accurate, never dispersive settings (perfect then the positioning of the "teleports"), consistent and full chock full of surprises that encourage you to explore even more than in the previous chapter.

There is in fact something addictive (in the good sense of the term) in picking, advancing block after block, collecting resources and reaching that secret area hundreds of meters underground which knows where it will lead. The platform component is also better structured and more satisfying and various gadgets (grappling hook, explosive, pneumatic hammer, jet-pack) intervene and further encourage you to explore.

The whole exploration part is then flanked by the more managerial-role one that takes place in the light of the sun. Here we can enhance gadgets with the money earned by reselling the raw materials found in the subsoil, but also create new projects (the so-called Mods) always with a view to upgrading thanks to gears to be discovered in the underground wanderings. The beauty is that the personalization of Dorothy is much deeper than before and the gears spent on the mods can be reassigned from the first to the last, depending on the characteristics that you want to give Dorothy.

For example, you can insist on the exploratory factor by increasing the capacity of the inventory, on the enhancement of one gadget compared to another or on the defensive aspect, in order to customize Dorothy in an almost rolistic sense, then considering the experience levels and the progression throughout other than trivial that we are witnessing during the game. Game that I completed in about eight and a half hours without however having collected everything and therefore, if you are more completist than me, consider at least a dozen hours. Really not bad if we think about the 20 euros required and the much more limited longevity of the first chapter.

Nice then the fact that often enemies can be completely avoided instead of facing them openly, also because between boulders to make them fall on the head and other small tricks (sometimes they eliminate each other) direct confrontation is not always the best solution. The management side relies mainly on light sources and water collection (essential for the operation of some gadgets), but it is nothing particularly complex or stringent.

Defects? Even if I don't remember the first episode in every detail, the feeling is that SteamWorld Dig 2 is more a "more of the same" than a sequel capable of renewing the formula and, in hindsight, it would not have been bad to insert some element strategy taken by SteamWorld Heist (perhaps only as a bonus), just to vary the game formula a bit.

Towards the end, in fact, we begin to feel a little repetition and those who expected a Metroidvania also as a difficulty will perhaps be a bit disappointed, considering also that Dorothy's death is not exactly the most punitive. The speech, however, changes if you aim to end the game 100% and the bosses, all well characterized, still require patience and attention. In short, don't expect a walk.

I downloaded SteamWorld Dig 2 from Steam thanks to a review code provided by the developers and I played it on a PC with Intel Core i5 7600K processor, 16 GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 1080Ti and 512 GB Samsung 950 Pro SSD. The game, also available for Switch, PS Vita and PlayStation 4, is entirely subtitled in Italian.