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Down and Dirty - SteamWorld Dig Review

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Steamworld Dig Switch Logo

SteamWorld Dig has dug itself a nice following since it first released nearly five years ago, earning itself a sequel last year. This isn’t the first time the game has graced a Nintendo platform, launching as a 3DS exclusive and eventually making its way to the Wii U in 2014, nor is it the first time it has been on a handheld. However, the Switch release marks the first time it has come to a handheld in full HD. Is it worth grabbing your pickaxe once again?

Platforms: 3DS, PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One, Switch [Reviewed]
Developer: Image & Form
Release: February 1, 2018 (Switch)
MSRP: $9.99
Press Copy provided by Image & Form

You take control of Rusty, a steambot in a western themed steampunk world who is tasked with taking over his uncle’s mine after he passes away in a mining accident. With nothing but a pickaxe in hand, it’s up to him to rejuvenate the dwindling economy of Tumbleton by mining ore deep below the town whilst also discovering the secrets of the world below. The premise is basic, but the steampunk western theme is rather pleasing and sets a solid tone for the game, but it’s really the gameplay that will have you coming back for more.

Steamworld Dig Switch Screenshot

Your primary objective is to dig for ores of varying value to sell back at the surface and go right back down to find more ore. At a first glance this seems basic and trivial, but the more you dig and the deeper you go, the better the rewards become. It has a niggling sense of “one more trip down” with each journey. If you only did just this though, it would get tiresome, but fortunately there are many more layers to each journey. You have to pay attention to the paths you dig, as you can very easily dig yourself into a rut. With time, you can develop a good sense of what you should and shouldn’t do with the routes you dig.

Steamworld Dig Switch Screenshot

The overall design of each area is procedurally generated, which means no single playthrough will be the same. There are set designed caves within the mines, which contain various abilities to make traversing the mines easier on yourself. Eventually you will dig into new areas, which adds to a sense of discovery and prevents repetition from settling in.

Resource management is also crucial to your journeys, as you have a limited amount of fuel and water of which you need to see and power new abilities. Light fuel can be restored simply by resurfacing, but water can only be refilled from pools found underground. The money you raise from selling ore can be used on upgrades which make digging easier, so the game maintains a good cycle of mine, resurface, cash up, upgrade and repeat. You will have to retrace a lot of steps in the process though, made only marginally easier by purchasable teleport stations.

Steamworld Dig Switch Screenshot

Overall, SteamWorld Dig is a short game, but the randomly generated mines make it very replayable. While certainly an excellent game, it’s entirely up to you if you think it’s worth it. The Switch release doesn’t bring anything new to the table over the 3DS or Wii U releases, unless you really fancy having HD visuals on the go.

If you haven’t played it before, there’s no better time to start, but if this isn’t your first time in the mines then it’s not necessarily a must-have. Though, it really does suit portable play, considering it was already designed to be played that way in the first place, so if you never had it on a handheld system before then this is a great opportunity to get in on it.


  • Rewarding gameplay
  • Very replayable
  • Aesthetically pleasing


  • Somewhat short
  • Plenty of backtracking




Great games are generally good buying decisions and are recommended for those with an interest in the genre. There might be a few flaws that detract from the gameplay, stories, controls, presentations, or value, but the game is still an enjoyable experience that justifies a full playthrough.

Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

About the Author: Jonathan N

Jonathan (Komodo_Zero) joined in 2013 to help create and manage the forums. Since then, he has served as both the graphic design lead and a content creator. He has authored guides, reviews, and articles: many of which are music related. If you see a fancy-looking graphic on Nintendo Castle or Pokeball Insider: you likely have him to thank. He currently writes reviews for all sites in our network.

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