SteamWorld Dig 2

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
SteamWorld Dig 2 Game Poster Image
Spelunking adventure proves surprisingly complex.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Honoring loyalty to family, sticking up for others. Themes of not pre-judging, giving people you've just met a chance to disprove negative reputations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play Dorothy, who hunts for her missing friend, Rusty. Her selflessness knows no bounds, as she also helps the economy of the town he was last seen in -- sharing, selling what she finds in mining fields below.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, although later in game you'll confront bigger challenges of figuring out where to go, demonstrating mastery of every skill that's been introduced so far.

Violence

Very mild mining-related violence, with use of pickaxes, jackhammers, bombs against creatures, monsters. No blood, gore is shown; most enemies fall apart, leave behind items for you to pick up.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Fourth game in SteamWorld series; it's possible players will become curious and want to buy the other three.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that SteamWorld Dig 2 is a downloadable action-adventure platformer with steampunk and Western influences. There's some very mild mining violence, as your character Dorothy uses pickaxes, bombs, and jackhammers against monsters and other hazards deep beneath the earth's surface. Enemies simply fall apart and disappear when defeated, leaving behind items to scoop up without blood or gore. Most of the game's challenge comes from its open-ended world, where you have to dig, tunnel, and be a persistent spelunker to find out where you're supposed to go -- and still find your way back up to the surface. 

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What's it about?

In STEAMWORLD DIG 2, a lone steambot and her unlikely companion set out to find a lost friend. Along the way, they must dig deep, gain riches, and explore an underworld riddled with danger. Top-side, you encounter the town of El Machino, an old trading town afflicted with mysterious earthquakes that devastate its economy. The more you dig and the more you find, the more you discover that a series of strange phenomena may be linked -- perhaps all tied to the disappearance of your friend.

Is it any good?

It's incredibly easy to love almost everything about this quirky platform-adventure, right up to where you've mined every possible direction and are starting to feel a little bit lost. But, that's just when SteamWorld Dig 2 turns into a different sort of a game: It shifts from haphazard carefree exploration to careful study and inspection. Unlike its predecessor, SteamWorld Dig 2 has a persistent world; the original had randomly generated caves. Here, there's much more care into imparting a specific type of experience to the player, with the world and overall play experience benefiting from it. The general flow of the game stays the same as before, since you must constantly return to the surface to trade gems and restore your energy stores -- which, yes, sounds like it could be boring and repetitive. In fact, it winds up being strangely addicting because the deeper you dig, the more you're forced to gamble on whether you can survive on your way back (to potentially upgrade your abilities) or whether you should press on (to see what sort of upgrades you might need). People typically call games like these "grindy," in that you have to put in your time grinding away to "level up" and earn new abilities to really make progress -- but here you're given so much freedom that you really are the maker of your own digging destiny.

It also helps that there isn't just one shaft to explore. There are other areas that, once you get certain items and understand how to best use them, you'll realize you had blown by in the very beginning of the game or that you didn't even realize you could go to. But, no matter where you go and what you do, this is a game all about digging. It's all about the loop of exploring, harvesting, and upgrading. All in, you can expect about 15 hours of this loop -- especially if you're trying to collect every single item and upgrade everything completely. That, in turn, unlocks a bonus dungeon, all of which means the developers paid attention to complaints that the first game was great but simply too short. This one will keep you busy for a while, but because of its singular focus, it means either you'll like all the mining and risk-reward calculations you'll be doing all the time, or you'll just not get it. The latter is unlikely, because this is a simple and straightforward game that's fortunately also a lot of fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Is it OK to have violence in SteamWorld Dig 2 because it's so cartoonish? Why have violence in games at all?

  • Talk about the nature of sequels. What does each new entry in a series do to extend and expand the world that a story takes place in? Why do you think they took a minor character from the first game and gave her -- instead of any other character -- her own new adventure here?

Game details

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