Steamworld Dig – Review (PS Vita)

Can you dig it?

Steamworld Dig has finally made its way to PS Vita and PS4,  having already mined its way into our hearts on PC and 3DS. It isn’t your typical Metroidvania title though; sure, there is an expansive map to explore, upgrades to collect and enemies to best, but this one is a little different.

steamworld dig ps4 review

You play as Rusty, a pickaxe-wielding robot who has just rolled into Tumbleton. There isn’t much going on though; except for a general store and, what we assume to be a ‘lady of the night’, the town is dead. So, what brought Rusty to this backwater town then? Well, as it turns out, his deceased uncle (God, rest his robotic remains) has left Rusty some inheritance – an old mineshaft. After exploring it a little, you discover that there are vast amounts of riches and organisms living in it. Perhaps life can be breathed back into Tumbleton, after-all?

Luckily for Rusty, the townspeople are ready to receive the gems and minerals he mines in exchange for fistfuls of cash. This money can be used in the general store to buy teleportation pads for deep parts of the mine, extra health, bigger pouches, more powerful pickaxes and much more. As you collect more gems and cash, the town will begin to grow and you will unlock better upgrades. Rusty literally reverses the local economy’s recession – such a good guy.

Speaking of upgrades, there are numerous game-changers scattered across the map, in a style reminiscent of Metroid. Be they water tanks to allow you to steam jump to higher platforms, explosive fists, or a drill attachment to dig into all but the toughest of rocks, they are fun to find and it is a joy to explore new areas with them. A real sense of progression and achievement accompanies Rusty’s transformation from basic robot to badass miner.

steamworld dig ps4 review

Steamworld Dig isn’t just about turning a profit and kitting-out Rusty in the best equipment money can buy, though. An overarching story is woven through the game as you progress. It was once thought that the mineshaft you inherited was completely spent, but on your adventures you find that there is an entire civilization living deep within it. It soon becomes clear that your uncle left you the mineshaft for a reason. As you dig deeper, you will uncover secrets of the ancient underground civilization and why the mineshaft was left in your hands.

From dusty mine shafts to toxic waste-grounds, the setting’s always fresh. We have one gripe with the game though. The futuristic area where the game wraps up is a real chore to explore (rhymes!). No, seriously, the final area really sucks. For a game that pulls you in with its approachability, things really get tough down there. The jump in difficulty is huge and it really affected our enjoyment of the closing stages of the game. Be warned.

steamworld dig ps vita review

So when the game is complete, it’s all over right? Well, not exactly. Steamworld Dig randomly generates all of the areas of the game, meaning you will never have exactly the same experience twice – in theory anyway. For a game so compact this feature makes the proposition a lot more appealing.

Steamworld Dig concentrates a lot of action into around four hours of play. This is no bad thing however, the action is so incredibly fun and diverse that at no point were we left wanting. The package is made even more generous with the inclusion of PS4 cross-buy. If you buy only one PS Vita title this week make sure it is this one.

Steamworld Dig is available now on PSN