I’m a sucker for games about digging. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something satisfying about going deeper and deeper for more precious resources as the danger increases them dragging your haul back to the surface.
On the surface (ha-ha) Steamworld Dig 2 fits this genre well. Our eager hero, equipped with a pickaxe, tunnels downwards, collecting resources and battling cave dwelling beasts. However, a generous checkpoint system and fast travel reduced the sense of danger and consequence of digging deeper that I was hoping for. I think reducing the risk in a risk/reward scenario will always reduce the height of the reward sensation.
This is an unfair criticism though - developers Image and Form have deliberately chosen a more “Metroidvania”-type game, replacing a strenuous struggle to survive with gentle introduction of new skills and areas as you progress steadily through the game. This is very well executed, too - there’s a balance of abilities that allow you to interact with the new world in new ways, of unlocks to make your existing abilities more powerful, and (especially nice) you can choose how to customize your character freely based on how you play the game.
All in all it’s a very polished little experience, with none of the sharp edges that is common among games from smaller developers. Part of me laments the tough mining simulator that I wanted but you must judge a game based on the difference between what it is and what it wanted to be, as opposed to what you wanted it to be.