Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Space! Often we go there in our spaceships to zoom about pew-pewing at one another, and other times we go there to have a big old think about life, the universe and everything. While The Dig is more the latter than the former, it’s not all contemplation and character study. Lucasarts’ sci-fi adventure is one of the earliest non-comedy point and click games I played, and despite some hideous puzzles, it’s one I’d still heartily recommend.
Interstellar is the most recent big budget example of science fiction as a frame for soul-searching, and The Dig is still one of the strongest examples of the same from my childhood. To say that it is concerned with character is not to suggest that it’s interest in space is only surface-deep. The stars are more than a backdrop in this drama.
Spielberg’s involvement might make you believe otherwise, but the beauty of The Dig is in its low-key approach to science and humanity. In a retrospective on Eurogamer, John said that the game was about “the gaps between the noise, the fear in the silence, the danger in the wasteland”. That sounds about right.
There are some irritating puzzles but they’re a thousand times less irritating in the age of easily accessible online walkthroughs than they were back in the day, and the game is worth playing to see how sometimes the quiet of space can be as devastating as the sound and fury of a thousand laser-fleets.
And, yes, I have no idea how sound actually works in space.