I’m a big fan of the first SteamWorld Dig. I’ve bought and completed it twice, in fact. The “digging genre”, such as it is, has always appealed to me. Ever since playing a demo of Diggers on the Acorn at high school, I’ve been drawn to them – Mr Driller, Miner Dig Deep, and SteamWorld Dig being the headliners.
SteamWorld Dig 2 was a thought-free instant purchase then, but if I’d not bought it the overwhelmingly positive reviews would have made it difficult to resist.
A cursory glance of the game shows little has changed since the first title. You’re a steambot (although not Rusty any more – he’s gone missing), and you have to dig down in a mine. The more you dig, the more you need upgrades to assist. However, after you’ve played it for a bit you realised it’s not just about depth – there’s more to explore here.
Instead of a single shaft, there are a number of separate – albeit linked – areas, each themed. A more powerful axe is less important this time around, with rocket boots and a grappling hook becoming the essential tools for getting around. Larger, more open spaces replace much of cramped mining, but there’s always something, and some reason, to dig.
Smaller rooms, filled with puzzles or navigational challenges, pock the mine and reward you with items that further boost your skills. Cogs can augment your abilities over and above the standard bought upgrades, reducing water use or making your pressure grenades more powerful, for example.
The gameplay is perfect. After every “run”, usually when you’ve found another return tube (which acts as a warp point), you sell your ore and gems, bump your powers up with the money and cogs, then return “just to get to the next tube”. And the next tube. And the next tube. It’s addictive, and soon enough eight hours have passed and I’ve completed the game.
But still there’s more. My completion stats say I’m just 53% done, and Image & Form tell me there’s a whole extra section if I make it to 100. So of course, I’m going to make it to 100%.
A short one, this! SteamWorld Heist’s DLC, The Outsider, was on offer this week and somehow I’d not previously bought it. I righted a wrong and did that, and then played through and completed it.
It’s not a separate story as such, more an expansion. There’s a new character (The Outsider, of course), once you’ve repaired him, and then five or six new missions strewn across the map. To go with these there’s a new selection of hats to find and a handful of new weapons and stuff.
One of the levels is an interesting three way fight between yourselves, the Queen’s guard, and the Vectron forces. You can of course allow both other sides to pretty much eradicate each other, then move in to mop up. So I did that.
Short, but well worth digging the game out for again!
The final third of the game was mostly about voltbots, who had various powers like lasers, teleportation, and cloning. Oh, and shield orb things that hovered near them and had to be destroyed before you could damage the voltbots.
With three of my steambots up to level 9, the final level, with the end boss in it, was actually a walkover. Sure, he kept respawning shield orbs, and magically making other voltbots appear, but provided I stayed away from the lasers (you get a move to, er, move), it was simple. I only took two hits, and one of them was friendly fire!
Completing the game took just over 12 hours, although I do have a few more stars to collect, and I haven’t played many missions in higher difficulties than “regular”. And I’ve New Game+ to get stuck into now too, so still plenty to get on with!
Imagine, if you will, a cross between Worms and X-Com. Only instead of worms and space soldiers, you have steambots, of the sort found in SteamWorld Dig. That’s SteamWorld Heist: A 2D, side-on, turn-based tactical shooter strategy game. And I really should have bought and played it months ago because it is excellent.
Each level involves you and a few steambots, each with different abilities, entering a ship and taking out the bad robots within. These abilities include being able to wield weapons from various classes, move further each turn, and so on. More abilities unlock as you play, increasing your health, adding secondary shooting modes, or giving you higher critical rates or steadying your aim.
The evil robots are similarly varied, and coupled with fixed gun turrets, exploding red barrels, flammable goo, orbs that provide shielding, and baddie-dispensing spawn points, the levels are pretty diverse. There are boss fights too, with some huge metal goons that, naturally, have way more energy and some unique skills and attacks.
All these things are great enough on their own, but the game is taken to even higher echelons of awesomeness through the graphic style, the humour, and the levelling system. You’re rewarded for grabbing all the loot stashed around during each mission (in fact doing so is more important than offing the bots), and most levels net you an improved weapon. With each level having a possible score of three or four stars, and you can only obtain all of them by 1) not dying, 2) getting all the loot, and 3) completing the objectives, there’s replayability here too. Even more so when you realise that you can attempt any mission again only on a harder setting to boost the XP bonuses.
I’ve loved every minute so far, and as I’m just over 2/3rds of the way through (I’m guessing, based on Events In The Game That Would Be Classed As Spoilers), with most stars obtained so far, I’m slightly saddened to think it might all be over sooner rather than later. But wait! There’s DLC! Yay!