SteamWorld Dig

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
SteamWorld Dig Game Poster Image
Fun drilling adventure with mild violence ends too quickly.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Fulfilling family wishes, rebuilding destroyed town, uncovering mystery for your family, its legacy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play Rusty, a young mining robot, trying to make the town of Tumbleton, his uncle's mine successful. Rusty's trying to do the right thing, but after a while more about getting money.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but some areas still challenging even with newly acquired abilities.

Violence

Mild mining violence, use of pickaxes, drills, dynamite against creatures, monsters. No blood, gore shown; most enemies fall apart when defeated.

Sex
Language

Mild flirtation from a robot in a Western bordello costume, but all other comments rather safe.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that SteamWorld Dig is a downloadable action-adventure platformer with obvious steampunk and Western influences. There's some mild mining violence, as the hero uses pickaxes, drills, and dynamite against a variety of subterranean monsters and hazards. Enemies melt or vanish when attacked, and there's no blood or gore; players also have the option to avoid engaging many of these enemies if they prefer not to fight. Though there's mild flirtation from a robot in a bordello costume, most of the language in the game is safe. The controls are simple to learn, but some of the dungeons and areas you fight through are still challenging, even when you acquire new abilities.

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What's it about?

STEAMWORLD DIG is the story of Rusty, a young mining robot, who receives a message one day from his uncle leaving him in sole possession of a lucrative mining opportunity in Tumbleton, a ghost town that has clearly seen better days. Seeking to find his fortune (as well as what happened to his uncle), Rusty sets off below the ground looking for treasure. He'll acquire gems of varying shapes and colors that can be traded to improve his gear and power, which will attract more people to the town to sell their wares. Rusty also will discover altars that will give him special powers and find that the mines hold hidden secrets that could threaten the safety of everyone on the surface. It's up to Rusty to brave the depths, save the world, and become a very rich bot.

Is it any good?

This quirky platforming adventure game strikes a great balance between fun and challenging, but it's over too quickly to let you fully enjoy the experience. SteamWorld Dig follows many of the same gameplay mechanics such as those in the Metroid or Castlevania franchises, where you start out with a basic set of skills and weapons. By the end of a stage or two, you've unlocked new abilities that allow you to reach previously inaccessible areas, which further drives you to explore, and on and on. Unlike those games, you have a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to exploring some sections of the mine; you can attempt to avoid creatures entirely in favor of mining, or you can attempt to clear every threat to you and your town. That does come with a bit of danger, because if you wind up dying, you lose half your hard-earned cash; since there's a limited amount of gems found on a level, you'll have to weigh whether it's actually worth it to destroy that creature in front of you or better to run until you have stronger weapons and more health.

What's also an interesting twist to the standard platforming formula is you're constantly forced to return to the surface to trade in gems and restore your energy stores. Initially it seems repetitive and possibly boring, but it strangely manages to provide some additional strategy: Do you create shafts to get up and down to unexplored areas as quickly as possible before your light runs out, or do you try to collect everything? Do you focus only on bringing up the pricey gems at first to ensure you get the most for your money during trade? Do you know which upgrade to spend your cash on? It adds an extra level of complexity that can be a bit challenging to scale, even with new abilities you eventually acquire. But the largest issue with SteamWorld Dig is the fact that it's over way too quickly. It's possible to fly through this game in about 10 hours even with a couple of mistakes, so just as you're starting to feel very powerful, you hit the final boss and the game ends. SteamWorld Dig is a fun and enjoyable platformer, which would be better if it were longer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games such as SteamWorld Dig. Is the violence OK because it's so cartoonish? Does the fact that you can avoid fighting lessen the impact of the violence? Should you even have to fight something at all?

  • Talk about fulfilling wishes and requests. Should you always try to do what's asked of you? What if those requests potentially put you in harm's way?

Game details

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