Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Fantastic on the 3DS, and then fantastic with much prettier graphics on PC, SteamWorld Dig [official site] is a combination of Metroidvania and mining, that manages to deliver that most difficult to balance of genres with aplomb.
On a water starved planet, only rusting robots remain, and you step into the metal shoes of your grandfather to search for jewels, technology and mystery by drilling ever deeper into the ground. The farther you get, the more abilities you gain, and most crucially, the tougher stone you can drill through, opening up new areas in a very satisfying manner. Regular returns to the surface let you sell off goodies you’ve gathered, buy new upgrades for yourself and your equipment, and be given further goals to complete in your underground adventures.
Water is your most finite resource, and used to power your main abilities, so you must constantly look out for pools to restock. And light plays an interesting role, ever-diminishing, letting you see less of the screen, until you top that up too. But neither is fiddly or annoying, instead preventing the game from being too easy.
It’s a finite thing, wrapping up rather nicely as a good Metroidvania should, rather than a sprawling open world affair. With follow-up SteamWorld Heist approaching the PC very soon, this is a great moment to become familiar with the universe in which the games are set, despite their completely different styles of play. It’s £7 on Steam.