From Rusty to Dorothy
Who has been fortunate enough to play that little jewel that was the first chapter, the fiction that underlies Steamworld Dig 2 will be familiar, perhaps too much: the same setting, different character but with so many points of contact with the original one.
Dorothy puts on the tracks of Rusty, star of the previous chapter, following the events in Steamworld Dig (on which we do not stop too much to avoid spoilers for those who have not yet recovered).
As in the 2015 chapter, history is not the focal point of production, despite some particularly brilliant and abundant humorous conversations: to focus more on story stories and the final phone call, it would take room for the heart of production, represented by gameplay.
For those who do not know the style of the first game, the Image & Form product is approachable to so-called metroidvania, even though Rusty’s adventures were much more than Dorothy’s exploration and resource accumulation.
Not that these two elements are secondary in this regard, but now combat has a primary role beside these, supported by a remarkable insight into role-playing mechanics and an increased level of personalization of their avatar.
Two of the gameplay elements that the development team have managed better are surely resource management and the ability to engage in exploration beyond the mission’s main goals.
The two things are the effect of the other: despite the death, all the items that are at that time are lost (unless you buy certain enhancements in the second half of the adventure …), the feeling of continuous progress and the fact that the game over does not clash the player’s monetary gains do not make the title excessively punitive and this, in turn, favors exploration and encourages them to move away from the main path.
Proceeding without a precise goal, with the vague goal of repaying their assets or being able to allow that much-desired boost, will soon become a pleasant alternative to making the way to the primary goal, with all that it takes in terms of longevity.
Like the recent Metroid Samus Returns, Steamworld Dig 2 prefers to work on carrots rather than stick, with the result of pushing the player to explore even the most cramped corners of the map for just the taste of increasing the global percentage of completion.
The most notable difference between Steamworld Dig 2 and its predecessor is the choice of not relying on the random generation of the stages: if this choice, on the one hand, does not favor rewritability, which was instead one of the most pointed arrows in the ” Rusty’s adventure arc, on the other hand, returns much more fascinating levels to explore, where the average design quality is considerably higher than in the past.
The exploration phases benefit greatly from this choice, with the player constantly rewarded every time he moves away from the beaten path, between optional upgrades and puzzle rooms, and more precision of positioning and number of enemies: where, in the recent past, it was possible to come across the same type of enemies as a result of random generation, now the variety of situations and the consequent need to cope with different pitfalls make it a master.
The purpose of the game and the loop of the gameplay, without saying it, are the same as the mastermind: Dorothy is armed with his trusty ice ax, with which he can get rid of digging tunnels in the belly of the earth while at the same time getting all the materials resulting from the crumbling of the rocks.
These materials can then be resold on the surface, so you can buy upgrades of various nature for your character, and here comes the second, substantial new feature with respect to the 2013 title: the rivalry element and the range of choices available to the player have greatly expanded, with the possibility, moreover, of having a respec of the character almost instantly in case of necessity.
Funds made from the sale of raw materials can be invested in multiple ways, and the player’s choices will have a lot more weight than in the past: the iceberg can be improved to inflict more damage to the enemy and break the rocks faster (or so as well as the lantern, a source of light in the dark pesto of mines, water reserves, which provide greater exploration autonomy, and many other gadgets available at the most advanced stages of the adventure, such as a ramp and even a rocket launcher .
Dorothy himself can be equipped with additional skills, such as double jump, a rude jetpack, or the ability to move faster, to open up new possibilities within the internships.