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Video Game / SteamWorld Dig

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SteamWorld Dig is a 2D platforming/adventure game released in late 2013 to PC and the Nintendo 3DS, and later ported to the Play Station Vita, the PlayStation 4, the Wii U, and the Nintendo Switch. Set in a world of steampunk robots, the game stars Rusty, a steambot who's just arrived at the sleepy desert town of Tumbleton. Equipped initially with just a pickaxe, Rusty explores the depths of his late uncle's mine in search of valuable ores and gems. As his wealth increases, Rusty acquires additional equipment to help him dig deeper and deeper, where he comes across something else deep below the surface...

The game was followed by:

  • SteamWorld Heist (2015): A turn based strategy game.
  • SteamWorld Dig 2 (2017): A follow-up game called SteamWorld Quest was discovered in 2016, initially as an exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. Shortly before the Switch's launch, however, the creators revealed that "Quest" was actually a working title for the sequel. Set some time after the events of Dig, the sequel casts the player as Dot, a female steambot hunting for the still-missing Rusty.
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  • Steam World Quest (2019): A card-based RPG reusing the Working Title of the previous game.
  • Steam World Build (2023): A citybuilder and Tower Defense game.
  • Steam World Headhunter (TBA): A co-op third person action adventure that sees the series go 3D.

Tropes found in SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Dig 2 include:

  • Abandoned Laboratory: Vectron, moreso in the second game where it's been completely destroyed.
  • Aerith and Bob: In the second game, The Yonker brothers: Mic, Luke, Josh, and Zebulon.
  • After the End: The game takes place after something destroyed the world, leaving most of the surface as a desert and sending humans underground, with Steambots becoming the main inhabitants of the planet.
  • An Economy Is You: Tumbleton and El Machino are populated with handfuls of NPCs who only exist to service the player character or sell you upgrades, with some only providing dialogue. It's justified in both cases, as Tumbleton is in the middle of nowhere and nobody is willing to search El Machino's mine due to recent earthquakes.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Ronald's Treasure Chamber in 2. To open it, you need to backtrack through the entire Temple of the Destroyer, searching for braziers that you've only just now gotten the upgrade to light. When you finally get there, the chamber contains... a single Trashium deposit.
    • Subverted in that a hidden passage in the chamber leads to not only an incredibly valuable Ametrine jewel, but three upgrade cogs and the Long Range Grappler mod for the Hookshot.
  • Big Bad:
    • Vectron for the first game and arguably the entire franchise. He's the one leaving upgrades for Rusty in an attempt to lure someone down to his lair to manipulate to further his goals.note  When that didn't work, it's implied he lived on in his cyberspace until Rosie found his tech. He rebuilt his body after the Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and, after being freed from the Red Queen, created/rebuilt an entire army of his kind to conquer the universe.
    • Rosie turns out to be this for 2,though it's hard to tell how much of it was really her and not Vectron. She was the one behind the tremors and Rusty's disappearance, using an earthquake generator built with Vectron's tech in an attempt to exterminate the robots while manipulating Dorothy into destroying his failsafes.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Both games have one:
    • SteamWorld Dig: Rusty defeats Voltbot, absorbing its power and blowing up everything within Vectron, himself included. Dandy builds a statue in his honor, but Dorothy isn't convinced that he's dead and sets off to find him. The sequel reveals that Rusty is still doing fine, but Vectron also lives on.
    • SteamWorld Dig 2: Dorothy finds Rusty and saves him from Rosie... but the reactor Rosie built goes haywire and blows up the planet. Both bots manage to escape on the rocket in El Machino along with the rest of the townsfolk (and one Shiner), but Fen has to stay behind to teleport them to safety. On the bright side, the ending shows that many other Steambot towns had built escape rockets around the same time, and SteamWorld Heist previously revealed that Fen made it out alive.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: The purchasable health extensions in both games are armor upgrades, implying this.
  • Body Horror: Voltbot attempts to invoke it— the upgrades Rusty found were deliberately placed there to make him more compatible for assimilation; Voltbot tells Rusty that he's barely himself anymore with all the new parts. Rusty tells Vectron to stuff it, and while he does appear to absorb lots of Vectron's power after destroying it, he's no worse for wear when Dorothy finds him in SteamWorld Dig 2 (other than being used as a living battery, of course).
  • Bonus Dungeon: 2 features the Trials of Heaven and Hell, which can be reached by equipping the Sigillum Crelum Et Infernum blueprint (obtained by showing all 42 artifacts to Davy Bitterborough) and using the maxed-out Jet Engine to fly to the entrance above Windy Plains. It's a series of new cave challenges, one after another in a randomized order, with no health or water pickups provided and no checkpoints; clearing all the sections in one go grants you another artifact, bringing the total to 43 and granting a Steam achievement.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The first game has cross-buy on PS4/Vita, so you get both versions if you buy one of them. Most cross-buy games have a feature called cross-save which allows you to use the same save on both devices. This game doesn't have such a feature.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: In 2, clearing the Trials of Heaven and Hell grants you the 43rd artifact, the Proof of Completion. It's just a certificate for completing said trials, not counting towards a full completion ranking. Its only use is showing it to Davy Bitterborough, who is initially stunned at the discovery of one final artifact only to remark that it's a pretty lame one.
  • Call-Forward: In SteamWorld Dig 2, Dorothy meets a sprite she names Fen, which is the name of the bot you can recruit in SteamWorld Heist's Outsider DLC. Makes sense considering their condition by the end of the game.
  • Collision Damage: Touching enemies deals damage to Rusty/Dorothy. In Dorothy's case, she can use a blueprint to deal collision damage to enemies if they touch her.
  • Dug Too Deep: Going deeper into the mines starts revealing more unsettling enemies and obstacles, such as the Shiners and the mysterious technology in Vectron. The sequel downplays this due to splitting the areas up, but there's still a teleporter to the ruined Vectron at the bottom of Archaea.
  • Falling Damage: Occurs before you get the upgrade that stops it from happening (which only exists in the first game, although there is a blueprint that reduces fall damage in the second). Human enemies aren't immune to it either— it's possible to kill one by digging the ground out from under them.
  • Face–Heel Turn: It's implied Rosie was a fairly nice person before she found Vectron's tech.
  • Foreshadowing: In Dig 2, Dorothy wonders how a shiner from Oasis could possibly wander into Yarrow, which is miles away. Turns out there is a sewer connecting Oasis and Yarrow. It comes handy when Dorothy needs to confront Rosie but the entrance of Oasis is blocked.
  • Funny Background Event: One of the upgrade areas in the first game has a background showing a video game store advertising the imminent release of Half-Life 3, with a line of (long-dead) fans camping out front.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: The Great Prophet in the second game. He's the only boss in either game who is always vulnerable, so his strategy is to teleport to different chambers in the arena and target Dorothy with fireball spells. His warping produces movement lines indicating which direction he went in.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing: Fall from a great height onto soil, and you'll crack the ground. Also happens when you dig under a boulder trap.
  • Hearts Are Health: Dorothy's life is represented by heart symbols. Averted with Rusty in the first game; while health pickups are marked with hearts, he just has a health bar.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In SteamWorld Dig 2, after Rosie's Mini-Mecha destroyed and her lair collapsing, Fen left behind to activate the Vectron portal to teleport Dorothy and Rusty back to El Machino. They come back in SteamWorld Heist as a DLC character.
  • Hit the Ground Harder: Dorothy's grappling hook can be used to completely nullify fall damage even if shot into the floor, but her falling past the camera at terminal velocity makes this quite difficult.
  • How We Got Here: SteamWorld Dig 2. The ending features the Earth-Shattering Kaboom that destroyed the world of SteamWorld Dig, with it revealing that Rusty and Dorothy were among the refugees. This leads into SteamWorld Heist, which was released before Dig 2 and established that the Steambot homeworld had been destroyed.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The sequel is this for anyone who skipped the first game, as it directly follows up on the ending of the first game and talks about its plot points at times.
  • Metroidvania: Downplayed in the first game; at some points, you'll be faced with an obstacle that will require a specific upgrade to pass, but everything is gotten in a linear fashion and secret areas only contain extra minerals and orbs. The sequel pushes this much further, as you can get both required and optional upgrades along the way, the world is more open since you can explore outside of the central mine (though there's still a defined path through the story), and the secrets are more important as they can hide gold cogs or artifacts.
  • The Morlocks: Disturbingly, it appears all of humanity has degenerated into this. They're known as Shiners by the Steambots and treated as savages, and they don't do much to disprove that fact. A more intelligent, friendly Shiner colony does show up in the sequel, but they turn out to be the real villains of the story.
  • Never Say "Die" Played completely straight in the Steamworld universe. Killed steambots are "scrapped". This is semi-justified since it's completely possible to reassemble a scrapped bot. And it's implied that bots can live for centuries. On the other hand not all scrapped bots get reassembled, it's entirely possible for them to be permanently dead. This is especially apparent in SteamWorld Heist where your entire crew is scrapped in the cold-open. And it's very clear that they're dead for real.
  • Non-Combat EXP: In the first game, selling mined materials earns experience for the town, unlocking higher tiers of upgrades and eventually bringing new merchants into Tumbleton. Monsters serve as a way to replenish health, water, or light. The sequel includes a traditional leveling system with experience gained by killing monsters, but it only unlocks higher upgrade tiers and improves the percentage of bonus money gained by selling ores.
  • Patchwork Kids: Steambot children are literally this. When two parents want a child, they gather enough parts to build one, with each parent donating one of their own parts in the construction. This is brought up in SteamWorld Dig 2 with Ma Yonker who is in terrible shape due to having given her children most of her parts, children who don't appear to appreciate her at all.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In any given run of the first game, it is technically possible to be unable to afford certain upgrades (especially Dandy's more expensive ones) as cash and orbs used for buying them are finite. Half your carried cash is lost upon dying for repairs, and teleporters can be repeatedly bought with orbs (which are much rarer and usually only used for special upgrades). However, if you thoroughly explore, there are enough minerals and orbs to buy all upgrades, buy a few optional teleporters, and even die a handful of times without losing too much. So while certain things might be lost forever for a given run, it's pretty unlikely.
  • Rocket Punch: The Steam Punch upgrade in the first game, which allows you to break blocks at a distance.
  • Rogue Protagonist: At one point Rusty is suspected to have become one in the sequel having even a temple full of creepy cultists dedicated to him... This ends up being a Red Herring.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • The Steam version of the first game has an achievement for destroying the first two generators, which you'd normally only do in the endgame, before reaching the final area. This may sound impossible since accessing these generators requires the Double Jump upgrade found in the final area, but the trick is to use sticks of dynamite to propel yourself.
    • SteamWorld Dig 2 follows it up with an achievement for destroying all of the doomsday devices/power sappers before going into Vectron and getting the Jet Engine. In this case, you need to use the Long-Range Grappler (needed to reach the Temple of Guidance's chamber and to cross the lava pit to reach the east side of the Temple of the Destroyer) and Grenade Launcher (needed to blow up a bouncy plant blocking off the rest of Yarrow) to access the required areas without having the Jet Engine.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Despite defeating Vectron, Rusty never returns to town, leading most of the townsfolk to assume he's dead. Dorothy, however, refuses to accept this, and the game ends with her resolving to find Rusty, whether he's alive or not. Notably, SteamWorld Dig 2 does actually follow through with this sequel hook, with you taking Dorothy to head off to look for Rusty.
    • SteamWorld Dig 2 has a form of sequel-prequel hook. You end the game with a reactor in the core of the world going critical, and causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom... the same one that is part of the background plot of SteamWorld Heist!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Rusty is a tin man with a (pick)axe working with a pigtailed girl named Dorothy. Near the end, Voltbot mentions it needs his "true heart."
    • In the Old World stage, it's possible to find a half-destroyed video game shop. It's adorned with Half Life 3 logos and posters (It's Finally Here!), and has a line of skeletons in costume who were presumably queing for launch day - shame about the world ending first. One of them is even wearing a rather familiar HEV suit...
    • One of the Challenge Trials in Dig 2 has you avoid fire traps, and at one point forces you through a long corridor where you face off against a Cultist summoner, *but you can't use any weapons*. The solution? Flip a lever so that he falls into the lava below.
    • In 2, there's a lantern upgrade that takes the strategy and guesswork out of hunting for secret areas by highlighting the weak points of destructible walls as long as they're being illuminated; it makes secret hunting such a no-brainer that, as the upgrade's description puts it, "you don't need no education and no thought control, just look at the wall."
    • One of the "treasures" in 2, "Rattus norwegicus," is a dead brown rat, with its description stating that "if you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff."
  • Silent Protagonist: Rusty does talk in this game, but only at two points: The intro level before reaching the main portion of the mine, and the cutscene right before the final boss. Averted in 2, where Dorothy is fairly talkative and Rusty talks when he finally shows up.
  • Springy Spores: Found in the Old World in the first game, and in Yarrow in the second game.
  • Steampunk: All technology in the world is steam-powered, including the robots. Until you get to Vectron, which has electrical machines.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The Mysterious Cave in Dig 2 aka Vectron Ruins. Full of inanimate giant Vectron bots and spirits around them. Once one spirit spots Dorothy, the alarm is sound and all of them will pilot the bots to hunt her down. The only escape from certain death is RUNNING.
    Fen: If you see something move, run.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Rusty appears to have suffered this once you reach the Temple of the Destroyer, where Rusty is apparently worshipped as a god of destruction by an insane cult. Some NPCs even think he's the one causing the earthquakes, which even Dorothy starts to believe on some level. He isn't. Rosie's machine was causing the earthquakes, and Rusty's machines were trying to stop her.
  • This Is a Drill: One of Rusty's later upgrades, which is just as capable of attacking as the pick and the steam punch.
  • Unobtainium: Appears as a high-end treasure in both games, but has no other special function.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: Played straight with Rusty, averted with Dorothy.
  • Wall Jump: An innate ability of both Dorothy and Rusty, which is very useful for climbing up the mines.
  • The Wild West: Tumbleton and El Machino, the hub towns, are strongly influenced by this.