December 6, 2013 8:40 AM | Anthony Swinnich
I'll be honest: I went into SteamWorld Dig with a bit of a cynical chip on my shoulder. I've played more than enough 2D miner games covering XBLIG, and many were terrible at best, so it was hard to be excited for "yet another one of these". If I knew the definition of the term in quotes was "a fantastic game" at the outset then I might have started with a different attitude. One fair shot and several hours later I find myself singing this game's praises despite my initial reservations.
SteamWorld Dig begins as the main character Rusty responds to a summoning from his uncle. You arrive to find the town his mine is located in derelict and nearly deserted. Your uncle's fate was decided by the mine you inherit. Exploring it and extracting its riches will help invigorate the town and provide you with the ability to upgrade your abilities, thus allowing you to descend even further.
What makes this more than just a mining game is that there are upgrades hidden in the mine as well. Things like a steam-powered super jump and a speed boost can be located and used at your leisure. It adds a solid and defined element to a genre that relies mostly on random exploration of procedurally generated worlds.
The steampunk-meets-western aesthetic is put together with great care and feels pretty fresh. It ties into the story in a way that makes it feel integral, and less like a coat of paint simply to justify the gameplay. Its available on Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux for $8 until December 12, then it goes up to $10. The game is also available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop for $9.