With the game coming this month, there are some grand times ahead for robots everywhere!
During Gamescom 2017, I had the chance to see SteamWorld Dig 2 running on the Switch. This wasn't the demo shown previously at shows like PAX East, as I actually got to see a portion of the full game. Brjann from Image & Form hwas guiding me through the game in handheld mode. The result was a lush variety of options that I was completely unprepared for.
The gameplay has the perks of the original, but there is much more going on. Where Dig 1 felt more like a brisk digging adventure, this game feels more like a Metroidvania. The world is no longer randomly generated, but caringly developed by a bunch of level designers. There is a structure to the proceedings that feels nice to play. That being said, you are still free to explore the game and that is where SteamWorld Dig 2 shines. With plenty of environments to unravel, it'll take a while to see everything.
In my time the game, the changes were immediately noticeable. While there is one gigantic world to explore, everything is built into sections. You will find places where the remaining humans live, where dominating robots have destroyed the landscape or where ancient tech has taken hold. In each of these places, you will find caves that can be explored for treasures or cogs. According to Brjann, there are reasons to revisit a cave multiple times. In some of these caves or areas, bosses are waiting for you to overtake them, which is a thrilling thought. The treasure allows for new techniques, while the cogs upgrades your gear.
A lot of skills are unlocked through finding new gear. In the original, this was reserved for your pickaxe, but Dig 2 lets every ability get powered up. Two examples of abilites are a grappling hook which can speed up your returns to the surface, and a rocket pack (as seen in the release date trailer) that allows for exploration of larger rooms. Both of these items are necessary to check every nook and cranny of the worlds.
With such a wide open 2D world, it can be difficult to replenish supplies and recover. Luckily, SteamWorld Dig 2 introduces steam-filled save points that can bring you immediately to the surface. Similar to transporting pods in Metroid games, you can go between them on the fly and revisit previous areas as needed. I can see this being a gigantic help at the end of the game as you try to see every last thing. For the purpose of the demo, I got to explore the world that way and it felt powerful.
SteamWorld Dig 2 had a lasting impact on me. As someone who loved the original, the sequel seemed to do everything better. The more wider and open areas make for diversity, which I can get fully behind. Add the glorious amount of collectibles and options and it should make for an adventure that has a longer running time with a whole lot more to do. Bring it on, Image & Form!