Dig! Review: Go Deep in this Enjoyable spinoff of a 1980’s Classic
Most iOS gamers out there—myself included—are a fair bit too young to know anything about Qix, a 1980’s arcade game made by Taito America Corporation. Over the span of many years, the line-drawing/space-claiming game made its way onto platforms like the Atari, Commodore 64, Apple II, and Game Boy. Skip forward a few decades, and the ideas that powered Qix have been repackaged and introduced to touchscreen gamers in Dig!—the latest to hit the App Store from Crescent Moon Games.
While it’s impossible to introduce Dig! without referencing Qix, the similarities stop when you move past the core gameplay principles… Yes, this is a game about claiming space by “drawing lines,” but it’s also a game about architecture and Douglas Chase—the hapless archeologist who’s working to save a failing museum… But Douglas isn’t free to dig willy-nilly, because his space is also occupied by Nigel, a mummy who’s always out to get him.
Controlling Douglas as he digs lines to claim 75% of each stage is accomplished with swipe gestures. He’ll naturally move forward, so we get to focus on changing direction to carve out sizable portions of the playing field while also avoiding Nigel. Douglas can also be stopped in his tracks by tapping the screen, but he can’t retrace his steps backwards—a restriction that adds to the already-challenging task at hand.
When a level is passed in Dig!, the wooden framework that supports the dig site drops down one level and things reset. This repeats every time, with a big injection of visual interest each time you drop into a new “zone.” These zones are characterized by the surroundings, which can include lava, crystal, stone, and more… In addition, each passed stage comes with whatever artifacts you unearth. These are items that earn you money from the museum, and can also be pieced together into collections that will unlock sections of the museum and progress you through the game.
If it seems like the entire Dig! experience is becoming quite expansive the further we go, then know that we’ve only scratched the surface… Crescent Moon Games effectively vanquishes any thoughts of this being an old-fashioned game by stacking on variety through several means. Among the factors that change each level are power ups, hats (with perks), and additional enemies (think moles, spiders, poisonous fog). The combined effect of it all can actually be overwhelming at times, but it simply leads to the realization that Dig! is harder than you might expect, and going deeper to fill out the museum is going to take some smart management of power-ups—and quick reflexes to boot.
The surprising amount of challenge present in Dig! is just one factor that isn’t quite what it seems when you’re first dropped into the game. Getting used to how the museum, hats, power-ups, enemies, and a few seemingly-arbitrary control restrictions all work together can take some time, and some players might be tempted to drop out early (this is reflected in the App Store reviews). But I say stick around—you’ll get better the more you dig, understanding what power ups and hats would really help your strategy and the best practices to avoid Nigel… It’s worth noting that another factor dragging down the game’s App Store rating is an apparent bug that caused crashing on certain devices.
Dig! comes highly recommended for anyone looking for the control system of a casual game backed up by layers of variety and an increasing challenge level. It’s sure to suite gamers willing to show some persistence in figuring out how everything works together and then getting better at it… Maybe that’s too much to ask out of the App Store faithfuls these days, but I’m not so sure it should be.
Our Score: 4 Out of 5 Stars