SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig review

SteamWorld Dig review

Gouge away.

Few would have been aware of SteamWorld Dig's existence before the last Nintendo Direct saw Satoru Shibata rather casually announce that it was to launch on the eShop immediately after the end of the presentation. I'll admit, I dismissed it on sight: though it looked nice enough, it reminded me too much of the disappointing Dillon's Rolling Western, if only for the Morricone-esque whistling on the soundtrack.

Well, more fool me, because SteamWorld Dig is an unexpected joy, a winning blend of Metroid's exploration and atmosphere with the tension of Mr. Driller's careful path plotting and limited resources. Toss in a pinch of Spelunky's cheerful craftiness and stern challenge and the result is one of the best 3DS downloads to date.

The first half-hour even carries faint echoes of Terraria's lonely, laborious opening stages, as robot hero Rusty slowly chips away at the rock and dirt beneath a sparse desert settlement, hoping to uncover the remnants of a long-dead human civilisation. Your first trips underground are short and uneventful: your lantern will run out of light fairly quickly, while the dormant enemies that burrow towards you should you disturb them can take hefty chunks out of your small health meter. You'll climb back up within minutes, toting a meagre haul of cheap ore back to town and selling it for cash that pays for items, with a cumulative total unlocking fresh upgrades at certain milestones.

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