REVIEW – Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt

Game review by Jeremy Hardin

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Game –Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt
Version – 3DS eShop – $9.99
Rating – E for Everyone
Obtained – Review Code courtesy of Image and Form

Story and Plot

Out in the desert walks Rusty – a lone robot with a pickaxe on his shoulder and the claim to a mine in his hand- as he searches for the town of Tumbleton, the mine in question, and ultimately, for answers.  Players take control of Rusty, a robot who was sent the claim to his Uncle’s mine.  Now, Rusty has come to the town of Tumbleton to find his uncle and figure out what has happened in the mines.  Before long, you literally crash land into the mine when the roof caves in as you’re walking the desert.  Inside the mine you run into Dorothy, one of the few residents of Tumbleton.  She informs you that your uncle has passed and his remains are in the mine.  Once you find his remains, you relieve him of his old pickaxe, do some digging and then head topside.  Don’t worry if you didn’t get to dig too much, you’ll be doing plenty of digging where you’re headed!

Welcome to the world of Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt.

Gameplay and Controls

Players take control of Rusty as he explorers his newly acquired mine, digging through the dirt, finding all kinds of minerals and precious gems, which you then sell topside to expand the town and unlock upgrades at the shop, which in turn upgrade you.  Along the way, you’ll face off against a variety of enemies, loads and loads of dirt, mysterious caverns, traps and more, all while trying to find out what happened to your Uncle Joe, and discover the secrets of the mine.

If you can’t tell by now, your main activity in this game is to dig.  You will be digging up the dirt in order to make your way through the mine.  At first, it will be slow going as you use your old pickaxe to dig deeper, but the more loot you find and sell, the faster you’ll upgrade your equipment, which in turn speeds up the digging process.  By the time you’re at the end of the game, you’ll be digging through the dirt like a hot knife through butter, and it is incredibly satisfying!  For those of you who might be thinking that swinging a pickaxe repeatedly sounds bland, don’t fret, I told you there were upgrades.  I’m not going to mention the upgrades specifically as I believe you’ll enjoy the element of surprise more.  I will however tell you that will have access to more than just a pickaxe, plus you can upgrade your body (you are a robot after all), and you have secondary items to assist you in your endeavours.

On the bottom screen you’ll be able to see the content of your sack/pouch/wallet, whatever you want to call it, and also your map.  If you’ve ever played Metroid before, the map is similar.  There are markers on your map which indicate your next objective, so you never get lost.  As you dig, you’ll see a path opening up on your map.  You can deviate from the objective and dig and dig until you just can’t dig anymore.  Just keep in mind that eventually, you could get stuck.  I found myself stuck twice the entire time and if that happens, but thankfully there is a self-destruct option.  If you are in a cave, it will bring you back to the opening.  If you are in the main area of the mine, it will bring you topside.  So just remember to be careful where you dig.  Oh and if ever you die, and you most likely will, just know that the ‘cost to repair’ your body is 50% of whatever money you have, if any, and you drop all your loot where you die.  That’s not so bad though since you can always go back down and retrieve said loot.

Now the title of this game is more than just a cool name, you see the power of steam plays a key role here.  If you hope to progress, you’ll need to acquire steam based upgrades, which require water, and lots of it.  I imagine you’ll find yourself, many a times, just digging until you can find a small pool of water to replenish your steam power.  The concept of steam powered weapons is really a great mechanic in Steamworld Dig, and I think developers Image and Form made a great choice here.  So not only will you need to keep an eye on your health, but you’ll need to keep an eye on your water tanks.  Oh, and to top it all off, your pouch/wallet/sack has limited space, so you will be going topside to sell your loot often.  No worries, you can upgrade the wallet as well.

Graphics and Sound

So the 3D effect is there yet limited, so while it looks good, I never really payed attention to it.  What really impressed me were the visuals and sounds.  I’m talking about the entire game, from the town (which looks great), the characters, the enemies, and the environments.  The animations are great too!  Plus, the music just draws you in, in a quite and subtle way.  The lighting in the mines was really impressive and I liked how they set it up.  In general, the mine is quite dark, lit up by the soft glow of lanterns and other light sources.  These light sources are scattered about, and you carry a lantern yourself, with limited fuel.  So, the further you dig, you’ll be able to see directly around you, but the visibility is limited.  This is a great way to enhance the mystery of the mines.  Even if you run out of fuel, you can continue to dig in the dark and before long you’ll probably see a light source in the distance which I strongly suggest you dig towards.  Overall, I was incredibly impressed by the graphics and sounds.

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Final Score: 10 out of 10

I was and am incredibly impressed by Steamworld Dig.  It is by far, one of my top favorite games on the eShop between both the 3DS and Wii U right now.  Not only will the atmosphere draw you in, but the gameplay, visuals, sounds, and the overall curiosity to know what comes next will keep you digging.  It is with absolute certainty that I say Steamworld Dig is well worth the $9 and we should do whatever we can to support Image and Form, so we can continue to get great games like this.  Do yourselves a favor and download your copy today!

+Impressive visuals
+Upgrades
+Challenging and Fun
+Replay Value

About the author:

Jeremy’s love of gaming, especially Nintendo started in the late 80′s when his parents bought him and his older brother an NES. Many hours were spent playing Mario and Duck Hunt. Eventually Jeremy graduated to bigger and better games and systems, like the SNES, GC, Wii, 3DS, and finally to the Wii U. Ask him what the defining moment of his childhood gaming was and he’ll answer, “the day I beat Zelda 2.” To this day that game holds a special place in his heart. His favorite types of games are platformers.

Jeremy started blogging for NintendoFuse in October 2010. He started off as a lurker on the forums who won a free copy of And Yet It Moves on WiiWare. From there he realized he liked the forums and the site and wanted to remain a part of it. He was brought on board shortly thereafter and has helped post news and reviews for the past couple of years. Currently Jeremy has taken a step back to focus on family and school. He assists in minor back-end site maintenance from time to time.

Jeremy – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.


  • http://www.imageform.se/ Brjann Sigurgeirsson

    Yoohoooo!!! 10/10! Thanks Jeremy and the rest of you lovely people! :D We’ll post this all over! Brjann/Image & Form

    • Alexandre Trottier

      Congratulations on all the success Steamworld Dig has brought you! I can’t wait to get through my pile of articles so I can give it a shot :)

      • http://www.imageform.se/ Brjann Sigurgeirsson

        Thanks Alexandre! Get it. Dig it. Love it. And be loved right back! :D

    • http://www.wiinintendo.net Jeremy Hardin

      Thanks again Brjann! I keep going back, trying to mine all the minerals….keep wondering if something special happens =D? Congratulations on all your success!

    • Steve

      Glad to hear you are getting positive reviews all around. Excited to see what’s next! Thanks for letting us review it here on NF.

    • Gamer_Greg

      I’m definitely digging this game. NEED MORE! We need a full length sequel, perhaps on the Wii U :)

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