Oh man oh man oh man oh man.

This was super fun. This is super fun. I'm gonna write all kinds of details and specifics and stuff down below, but if you just want to know what I think of the game, Steamworld Dig 2 is super awesome and you should totally go buy it. I'm gonna go play more after I finish this.

But okay, let's talk all those details and specifics. What's the game, what's the premise, why am I so excited? Steamworld Dig 2 is the sequel to 2013's Steamworld Dig, coming off the heels of 2015's spinoff Steamworld Heist. Set in a world in which sapient robots have long since become the dominant species and also have made everything all cowboy-town for some reason, the Steamworld franchise is much beloved, and for good reason.

The Dig games, in particular, are built upon a sort of light Metroidvania motif. This gets mixed with a power system that gives you only a handful of new funny-shaped keys, but each one instead brings new and potent options. And then it's all enhanced with the central mechanic, namely digging. Pulling some inspiration from things like Terraria, you are tasked with delving into persistent caves of various types to explore, track down loot for upgrades to your gear, and push the plot.

And the plot to Dig 2 is simple, a bit lean, but effective. Our heroine Dot is looking for Rusty from the last game, who up and disappeared after all the things that happened there. Her journey sees her uncovering mysteries, delving into the forgotten history of the world, and other heroic stuff. ...Also, smacking a lot of weird bug things with her pickaxe. She does that too.

The tricky bit about an extensive review of this game is mostly in trying to figure out where I want to focus. The game pulls inspiration from countless titles of my youth in the 16-bit days, feeling like something between a Greatest Hits collection of muscle-memory, and another step in the second-generation-creator art movement side of videogame development. With a walljump that feels right out of Mega Man X, a run that feels like everything from Super Mario World to Super Metroid (they put Super in the title of a lot of games, back then) and a central mapping and exploration system that reminds me of the days of desperately trying to 100% an in-game map to find that last, damn, secret...

Well, what I'm trying to say is that Dig 2 lives up to its points of influences, and also pulls from a lot of them.

The ultimate result, in a lot of ways, reminds me of another (relatively) recent darling, Shovel Knight. Both games clearly have a central riff, but because they're pulling secondary influence from so many contemporaries of that central point, they end up feeling less like a throwback to one single game, and far more like a rosy memory of that entire point in history. Dig 2 aaaalmost feels like it could've been made back in the mid-90s, if we replaced smooth line-art with more crisp pixel-art...Until you go back and play one of those 16-bit classics, and start missing all the little modern niceties that Dig 2 is willing to bring.

And not just the big obvious niceties, either. The frequent auto-save and fairly generous respawns are nice, of course. The game's not particularly interested in making you do the same thing over and over again. (Something helped by most of the big challenges being a puzzle to get to a new power or breakthrough, not a boss to fight.) But then you have little things, like how there's a hotkey whenever you go to a fast travel station to take you right back to town...And in town, that same hotkey selects the last visited location, making zipping back out to drop off loot, check for new conversations, and grab a few upgrades(or just refill all your kit) that little bit smoother.

Smooth is the name of the game, too. Just about everything in the game just flows right. Your jumps feel right, your run is just how it should be. The only times when things start to get bogged down is if you're digging too deep for your current pickaxe, and really need to spend some coin upgrading its potency on rocks...A task that, thanks to all the other little touches, goes without a hitch.

And my only problems with the game are in these little spots, as well. The big picture stuff, the game sets out to achieve what it intends to be and does that with aplomb. It's just the little things. Like how it can be a bit of an extra pain to refill your lamp deep in the cavernous depths, or otherwise avoid having to backtrack to a travel station to refill in town. Or how some of the side conversations can end up with a little tonal dissonance, where the game doesn't seem entirely sure of how serious we're supposed to take it...

But the thing is? These are nitpicks. Tiny little troubles. And at the end of the day, Steamworld Dig 2 is a really, really good game. And I haven't even touched on platform choice, because while this is out on most of the major platforms, it just sings on the Switch. The gameplay loop is perfect for ten or twenty minutes of play, the character art looks fantastic up close or on a big screen, and the whole thing just feels like it was made to be here.

That's not to say you shouldn't buy it on another platform if that's all you've got, of course. While I don't have any real time with, say, the PS4 version, I have no doubt that it's also fantastic. Really, the central thing is just to make sure you get to experience it somewhere, somehow. Because it's worth it.

...Okay review over I'm gonna go play more of the game now bye!