Shovel Knight Dig is nothing like the retro action games that catapulted characters into indie royalty. Oddly enough, though, it feels like a natural extension of that game’s mechanics and concepts. It feels like a subversive follow-up that boldly pushes the series to new ground rather than sticking strictly to the source material.
The game is another developer riffing on the concept of Shovel Knight, but it’s under the watchful eye of the original studio, Yacht Club Games, so the difference is interesting. Nitrome generously borrows some key elements from his Shovel Knight, but this isn’t a spinoff like last year’s Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon was. It doesn’t feel like the characters are being ported into a whole new genre. Instead, we’re reimagining what can be done within a similar framework with the same level of mechanical precision.
Simply put, Shovel Knight Dig is a vertical roguelike where you delve deep underground to confront the nefarious Drill Knight who stole your hero’s valuables. The story is light and simple, and when it comes to naming conventions, Drill Knight’s gang of “Hexcavators” doesn’t match The Order of No Quarter’s sheer wordplay bliss, but it works well enough.
The new structure recontextualizes the game, but it’s still essentially a platformer and controls amazingly like the original Shovel Knight. Many enemies and bosses reappear in this game as well. They work as expected, but there are subtle differences that reflect the new mechanic of digging underground. It’s like a magic trick. We see the same things over and over again, but some things are different.
As a roguelike, most of your time is spent on individual runs that are initiated by diving into huge holes in the ground. You can’t spend too much time planning the perfect route or mopping up all the enemies, because as you progress, giant machines will flood the stage and threaten to destroy you. When you’re on the path, you’ll have to make your way down a constant progression while dealing with enemy encounters and collecting gems and gear.
Gems are a permanent part of roguelikes, allowing you to purchase new relics that appear randomly in stages, as well as permanent upgrades such as additional carry slots and armor. Three golden gears are scattered across the procedurally generated stages. Collect more gear to get bigger rewards. Once you have all three, you can choose between full healing and random relics.Stages also feature multiple side rooms where you can participate in quick challenges for additional gems or find vendors. Every stage has multiple breakable walls that trigger when you hit a weak spot – absolutely essential to uncovering secrets and finding collectibles.
All of these different elements were things to take in, and it was difficult to find my footing while learning the game’s new rhythm and underlying ideas. but in my case Is doing Repeat the first step over and over. Despite this, he always wants to run one more time. Eventually, I, who was having trouble getting to the first boss, was able to easily dispatch him and move on.
That sense of discovery continues throughout the game. Each stage introduces new enemy types and even dirt to dig in. For example, the Flame stage has a patch of flammable coal-like dirt, and one of his fire-based enemies has it. , it will flare up in a cascading pattern. These dirt types get very creative in the later stages. Magic-based stages have dirt that acts as a portal, while other dirt shoots you in a straight line and bounces off walls. Combined with the unique platform challenges, it feels like it was handcrafted.
Learning a whole new set of rules and wrinkles for each stage can be daunting, but the ability to buy shortcuts to stages eases that. To accumulate enough upgrades, you’ll want to start over. But for the purpose of learning the ins and outs of a new environment, it’s a useful tool. You can also turn on a wealth of accessibility options if you need to pace the area. This offers everything from increasing damage and health to slowing down the game. There’s no penalty for turning these on, and the game seems content to just enjoy it as it pleases.
The procedurally generated hooks also extend to the boss encounters themselves, changing the battlefield in subtle ways each time you face a boss. My favorite of these was Tinker Knight. He retreats into a giant excavator for the second phase, peeking through a number of hatches and throwing wrenches to present an opportunity to pogo off and deal damage. However, the drilling press itself was a combination of parts, with very different configurations each time it was encountered. This is an impressive trick that makes every run more attractive.
All of this makes for a thrilling feeling, especially when you’re doing a good run. After making a few key upgrades in the early stages, I found myself sweeping the later stages where I had to learn new elements on the fly, and surprised myself when I finished it. The breathtaking feeling of bare-knuckle platforming followed by the relief and joy of accomplishment of having done something that shouldn’t have been one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year. Still, I don’t feel like I’m done. The diverging paths mean there are environments and bosses we haven’t encountered yet, and we hope to track more upgrades and armor types. I expect to play this for a while.
In that sense, it’s a sequel to Shovel Knight. The original retro platformer was very tough in parts, but more than rewarding. I am remaking it into something new.
https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/shovel-knight-dig-review-ace-of-spades/1900-6417965/?ftag=CAD-01-10abi2f Shovel Knight Dig Review – Ace of Spades