As more and more people worldwide pick up and enjoy Nintendo’s latest machine, the number of indie games appearing on the eShop increases by the day. As a result, it can be difficult to weed out the gems among the mess. In this new series, I’m hoping to shine a light on the best games from independent studios on the Nintendo Switch. This is Nintendo Switch Indiessentials.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is an action platformer from the Swedish developer Image and Form. A sequel to 2013s brilliant SteamWorld Dig, and the 4th title in the all encompassing SteamWorld series, Image and Form are truly on form with this absolute delight.
Following the conclusion of SteamWorld Dig, a robot named Dorothy heads to the desert town of El Machino, with the goal of finding out what happened to her Uncle, Rusty. Once she arrives, she’s made aware of a series of tremors causing earthquake-like issues above the surface, and the blame is levelled at Rusty. Dorothy heads into the mines, with the objective of finding out what happened to Rusty, what is causing the tremors, and to save El Machino for good.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is, in many ways, the perfect sequel. While the first entry was built on a procedurally generated environments, SteamWorld Dig 2 benefits from a more hand crafted approach. I don’t think you will ever get to the point where procedural generation ever produces puzzles and environments as cleverly designed as a dedicated developer. While I enjoyed the first, SteamWorld Dig 2 surpasses it on every level.
The joys of SteamWorld Dig 2 come not from randomly digging around the mines, but from the caves and dungeons you encounter along the way. While facing off against enemies, mining ores and metals etc is fun in itself, the real challenges arise in various caverns dotted across the map. There you’ll find brain tickling puzzles and challenges of varying difficulty, all in aid of gaining a few cogs and valuable gems.
Again, that’s not to say the simple things aren’t enjoyable. As you earn more money (through ores and what have you) and cogs, you can begin to upgrade Dorothy. Better armour, larger water tanks, more powerful pickaxes…basically the standard upgrades you’d expect.
There is an interesting wrinkle to be found in the upgrade system, however; you can choose to put your cogs towards making the game more challenging. I’m not very good at games, so it’s not something I explored at any length, however I did like that that option exists for those seeking more challenge.
Cowboys and Robots
Despite being set in a post-apocalyptic world primarily inhabited by sentient Robots, SteamWorld Dig 2 isn’t really set in a mechanical aesthetic. It’s a real stretch, but I find myself comparing it closer to the Paper Mario series. The characters almost feel cut out, and paper craft. Outside of this, the backgrounds and environments have a beautiful hand drawn style that is so vibrant and colourful. One thing I’ve picked up on while doing this series is that indie games are keeping games colourful and beautiful, as more big budget games got for various shades of brown.
That being said, I do really love the “western” vibe both Dig titles have given off, and I hope it’s something that’s taken forward. This is compounded in the score as well. I’m not overly brilliant at describing music, but if you can imagine themes from Western films tinged with hints of electronica, you wouldn’t be too far off some of the themes found in Dig 2.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is a very very easy recommendation. The first title isn’t overly heavy on story, so you’re not missing out on much at all if you dive straight in here. Furthermore, if you do choose to start from the start, you can pick up the first one, as well as SteamWorld Heist (a very different game) on the Nintendo eShop. Wholly recommended.
Steamworld Dig 2 is available on Nintendo’s eShop for £14.99, as well as on PS4, PC, and Xbox One. Should you wish to own a physical copy of this title, it will be released on April 29th, and you can purchase it following this Amazon link. As ever, this won’t make any difference to you, but it’d mean Amazon throw a few pennies my way to help keep the content coming.