Gaming - Dig or Die

Dig or die

The Defective Inspector has spent his weekend eating chocolate mini-eggs and perusing his latest Case File: Dig or Die from Gaddy Games...

WOW! That’s an ominous title, Dig or Die! Well it’s rather straightforward isn’t it? I shall dig and thus survive. Let’s be honest who would choose die? I suppose the decision is forced upon you… I guess… You know what? Let’s talk about it in precise reviewers detail so I don’t get lost in the title!

So what is the premise? Well first of all be surprised there IS a premise. Traditional sandbox side scrolling games of this nature really do throw plot out the window so that alone gives the game a few bonus points. You are a salesman (yes you read that right) of an intergalactic fabrication tool company (Yes still reading correctly) who has crashed landed on a hostile planet. Using the automated fabricator and a hand held miniaturizor, a small sci-fi weapon which shrinks terrain down to the size of a pocket cube, you must create a safe haven from the nightly onslaught of the wild animals who get REALLY angry when the sun sets.

At first glance Dig or Die looks very similar to other side scrolling sandbox games out there, which is very unfair. Dig or Die really depends on you getting head first into the action, you are given a fairly straightforward way of playing (Suck up terrain, make new stuff) and continue to be guided by the crashed AI you are destined to reassemble. The difficulty in the game comes down to exploration and survival. Whatever shelter you make will always be destructible and every night a swarm of creatures will attack you directly, we’re not talking “OH they’ll spawn at a greater rate”. Oh no! They are 100% looking to rip your intestines out of your nose. While it’s initially fairly straight forward to hide in the hill fort and load it up with automated turrets exploration forces you to go outside and find more materials. This is where things get a little complicated, you see the night time swarm depends on the type of animals you’ve killed throughout the game. If you find a new species while exploring you can be damn sure that species will find a way to your house and do the aforementioned intestinal rearrangement. This is actually a rather good method of controlling the difficulty slope, you can ensure your base can handle your current situation before falling into a new one!

The base building itself is a rather big part of the game. Surviving during the night swarm without a base indicates your difficulty is set WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too low. Your safety net haven should depend on the technology your sci-fi technology can make, which is primarily fancy guns mounted to walls. This is where a careful paradox seems to form, you must seek and explore to find new material to make a better base BUT when you find new material you find new creatures. This creates a constantly changing challenge which ensures the game remains fresh and drives you to build a better base. Later on in the game there are more complex aspects which include electricity to power things like a teleporter or intricate lighting to create underground farms. I’ve not touched everything yet, but I’ve seen it! The ultimate final “base” to build is a rocket so you can get the hell out of Dodge.

What really adds another dimension is the physics engine. Cleverly this game applies the forces of reality to occasionally knock you off your overly safe pedestal every once in a while. Want an example? You got it! At one point you’ll need to build a large bridge to overcome a chasm. While games like Terreria or Minecraft middle finger the need for structural support this game takes the physics high rode. By applying concepts of pressure and torque it makes sure your reach never extends too far. The technology required to traverse the chasm doesn’t really come into play until later on, so the physics is both a limiter and clever feature. Another physics example is the water, it flows! Literally, it flows into sections and is absorbed by dirt and can be applied and utilised in a variety of ways. While that may SEEM simple it’s often forgotten about when enforcing weather dynamics and thus I have to tip my hat to Gaddy Games, you pay attention to the little things.

One important thing to remember about Dig or Die is this, it’s not finished… Early access is the pillar of the indie world so investing in the incomplete isn’t a huge ask. The base game currently running is smooth, without bugs and very enjoyable. Franky I don’t review horrifically incomplete games because it’s unfair, it would be like judging a cake based on the flour used. Dig or Die is fresh from the oven but there is still the cooling, adding icing…. Sprinkles… Candles maybe? Yeah let’s put some candles on there.

Dig or Die is an incomplete but stable early access game which takes a traditional survival side scroller and adds dynamic new features. Via a very clever array of restrictions it guides you through an enjoyable, challenging and vibrant experience which would make any gamer a happy player for a pocket money price tag.

Images - Steam