SteamWorld Dig is heading to PlayStation. At some point in March, you’ll be able to download the game on both PS4 and Vita for a single price, as it’s a Cross Buy supported title. The developers, Image & Form, are really excited about this – having their game on PlayStation has been a “long-standing dream” says their founder and CEO, Brjann Sigurgeirsson.
But before we hear more from them, how about a little scene-setting backstory? SteamWorld Dig, if you don’t know, is a Metroidvania style game – that’s a platformer with heaps of exploration – set below a post-apocalyptic robotic Western world. You play Rusty, on the search to find the mysteries of the cavernous depths of his Uncle’s mines. It’s about as good as these type of games get, and it originally released exclusively on 3DS last summer.
We’ve reviewed the game on Nintendo’s handheld, and then looked at it again in our Indie Focus feature when it came to PC, with wonderful HD visuals. Now, you can expect the same treatment for PS4, with stunning 1080p and 60fps aesthetics, and on Vita, where the game is exceedingly crisp.
Why PlayStation, then? Personally, I believe that this game will feel right at home on Sony’s handheld, and it seems as though I’m not the only one.
“When we released it for the 3DS, immediately got a lot of calls to bring it to the Vita,” explained Brjann, but continued to say, “We thought it would be a very long road to ‘travel’ from the 3DS to the Vita, so we decided to make a stop along the way and bring it to Steam.”
But now that they’ve travelled the road, it’s easy to sense that it feels to them as though it was worth it. Brjann quipped that “The Vita is just awesome, and a great fit for SteamWorld Dig… or is it the other way around?” It’s definitely one of those great fits in both directions, as the touch inputs now handle the inventory wonderfully, while the shoulder and face buttons have translated perfectly over from the 3DS to the Vita. One thing missing is support for the back touchpad, but the team simply didn’t have any use for this – “it would have been art for art’s sake,” concluded Brjann.
As for the PS4 release, you can expect “quite a few graphic enhancements”. The advantages of the locked hardware means that 1080p60 can be set for all players and some additional graphics features added in. Content, however, will remain the same and Bjrann said that they “made a conscious decision to keep the versions quite similar to each other.”
“The Vita is just awesome, and a great fit for SteamWorld Dig”
So, you can still expect the same, brilliant experience. After you jump down the mine, away from the barren overworld, you’ll find a beautiful, procedurally generated world of caverns, puzzle rooms, sewers and more, down to the darkest and most mysterious of depths.
And you’ll soon learn that your goal is to just keep going, with the use of a pickaxe at first, but perfectly introduced drills and mining tools, which double as weapons, setting the pace of the roughly five hour adventure.
Now, let’s skip back in time – how did they get here, developing their game for PS4 and Vita? Well, you’ll have Shahid Kamal to thank for that, and the magic of Twitter.
“I was tweeting a bit back and forth with Shahid Kamal of SCEE as early as August-September”, Brjann recalled, “about the possibility of bringing SteamWorld Dig to PlayStation. At that time I think it was very hard to get anything onto the PS4, and everyone was very busy. If we’d come to anything conclusive at that point, we actually might have been faster onto the PS4.
“Everyone at Sony has been helpful and extremely friendly throughout. As with Nintendo, the submission process is long and complex. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it keeps dedicated developers and publishers hard at work, and those who think it’s too much of a hassle just give up. It’s the first barrier to overcome. ”
It was a process that I had thought happened quite quickly, but it felt longer for Bjann. “I’m not sure I think it’s been very fast,” he said, “but then again, I’m probably a lot more impatient than most people. First, everyone but me at Image & Form is some sort of genius, so they tend to do things right the first time. I also believe the work was pretty straightforward. Compare it to the 3DS-to-Steam port, where we had to go from dual screens to one screen, from low-res graphics to HD… a lot of ‘physical work’ had to be done. This time we just had to figure out a lot of things.”
Despite releasing on a Nintendo platform first, Brjann believes that “PlayStation is the ultimate console.” He’s keen to point out his love for Sony’s platforms and revealed quite a positive side effect for putting all this effort into bringing it to PS4 – “The PS4 was very hard to come by home in Sweden before Christmas, so getting the test kit from SCEE actually killed two birds with one stone.”
Of course, even though the game is still the same five hour long adventure, there’s a lot to do beyond trying to reach the bottom – or core, perhaps – of the world, involving collecting and selling minerals, as you head up to the overworld and expand up there, collecting upgrades and one-time use items for down below.
You’re constantly questioning what’s next, what lies below, or even across from you in the mines. And you’ll always be rewarded with something stylish, in that perfect robotic Western tone, feeling compelled to continue on the adventure. That’s key in SteamWorld Dig, but this game might just be the start of things to come.
“PlayStation is the ultimate console”
As for Image & Form’s future, you can expect more SteamWorld on PlayStation. “We naturally plan to bring also our future games to PlayStation, now that we’ve done the first game,” said Brjann. He later revealed, “We’re in fact developing three new SteamWorld games now, all awesome and at various stages of completion. We’ll release the next SteamWorld game – one of these three – in 2014. It will be almost ridiculously fantastic, and will make SteamWorld Dig look like an interesting school project in comparison. And then you have to remember that SteamWorld Dig has won numerous Game of the Year awards…”
But there’s still love for Nintendo and the work they did together. “Nintendo has treated us like royalty,” he said, and he certainly feels that they “owe them a lot,” and will never forget their help along the way. While that might suggest a Wii U version, they’ve discussed it and it’s not as simple as a straight port now that they have the PS4 console version – they and Wii U owners will simply “have to see how the platform develops.”
So, SteamWorld Dig on PlayStation. It’s all very exciting, isn’t it? It certainly is for me, a huge fan of the game who has yet to see it in HD, or on the Vita’s OLED screen. And, proudly stated with enough confidence to end an article, Brjann says one final thing: “Maybe you don’t know this yet, but SteamWorld Dig is the very reason why you bought your PlayStation 4 and/or Vita – and a damn fine reason it is.”
Still not convinced? How about a bit more: “It’s at its best on PlayStation, but don’t tell any of our beloved 3DS or Steam fans.”