Game: DIG (Deep in Galaxies)
Genre: Action, Adventure
System: Steam (Windows & macOS)
Developer|Publisher: Molton Studio| Raiser Games
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £12.99 | US $14.99 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: March 8th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Stride Pr
It’s a new year and another opportunity for indie developers to flex their roguelike creativity. Today we have Deep in Galaxies or DIG. On its surface, it appears to be another 2D pixelated action game. However, it dares to mix the roguelike genre with open-world mechanics. Also, the gameplay is fast and addictive, and you can even bring your friends along for the fun if you fancy. Let’s dig in, shall we?
The premise is, in a sentence, out of this world. What if I told you in this game that you could play as a Monk who joins a group of rebels travelling through space helping the needy? All while taking on baddies and overthrowing the evil galactic overloads with your staff and bow and arrow. It’s this zany premise that had me quickly hooked on the game. You don’t just play as a monk. You kinda play normal characters who have occupations banned by the overlords, like a Doctor or a Ninja, all of which have their own unique stats and are unlocked as you progress through the game. They should add video game reviewers to their list of character options in a future patch. The game’s plot is kept very simple and to the point, presented in short snippet cutscenes between boss encounters. This game wastes no time throwing you into the action, and there is plenty to discuss.
Explore the Galaxy
After an opening level to obtain your spaceship, you head off into space, where you are given free rein to explore galaxies with multiple planets you’re able to touch down on. This exploration element gives an open-world feel not often seen in the roguelike genre.
The overall goal is to hunt down the boss. But to do this, you will need to take on various missions located on different planets. These are clearly indicated with markers. If you fancy, you can land on a random planet and just go hunting for loot until you get bored and want to return to the mission at hand. With space exploration, you can sometimes get intercepted by an enemy ship in which case you need to take out a few waves of enemies.
The difficulty, in general, will increase as you progress, with missions having tougher enemies and likely more explosions. Once you have completed enough missions, the boss fight will eventually present itself and once they are defeated, you can either dilly-dally or travel to a new galaxy with new planets. All planets and missions are randomly generated and follow roguelike rules. When you die, you get to start your mission all over again from the very start.
Missions range from finding artefacts to hunting down specific enemy targets. If you struggle to find your objective, a handy marker will eventually appear to point you in the right direction. Most missions are these treasure hunt-like missions, but thanks to the random generation of the level design and enemy placements, this never bothered me.
A Varied Set of Skills
The game has a lot of controls to get your head around, which are introduced in the opening tutorial level but took me a few runs to get used to. You have a melee and ranged weapon, the latter of which has limited ammo but can be replenished with drops scattered around each level. The melee attack not only helps with close combat and hitting projectiles out of the air. It also allows you to literally dig through the terrain of the level seeking out your objective to find plenty of gold, which can later be spent at vendors for new weapons and upgrades.
Melee and Ranged Weapons
Most of each level is destructible, but not entirely. There is usually a layer of earth that will not let you dig further so as not to make each objective too easy. Both the melee and ranged weapons can be swapped out, and a small window box will display to indicate if the weapon is a better fit for your stats or a downgrade. Another move you need to get proficient with is the hook shot. This shoots out a rope that attaches to surfaces and helps you escape any holes you may find yourself stuck in.
It seems simple in principle, but I often found this move quite finicky and didn’t always work when I needed it to. Rarely was the situation life or death, but it did make me more inclined to rely on the double jump or just perks I picked up from items, such as the ability to jump off walls.
The moves don’t stop there; you can find potions hidden in the levels which can be drunk to temporarily buff your abilities. Each character has its own special move, which can be activated once charged up. It’s a very handy feature, but I often forget to use it. It would come in very useful when the enemies build up on the screen.
The gameplay has this addictive pick-up-and-play feel to it, which is instantly satisfying. The temptation to jump into another run was very strong after inevitable failure. If the main adventure does bore you, you can indulge in the game’s challenge or battle modes. A big draw to the game is the ability to bring three more buddies into the madness. Unfortunately, I could not try this during the review, but I will certainly be getting my game night buddy in on the action post-launch.
Difficulty varies widely and very much depends on the luck of the draw with your random item drops. On some runs, I died a few missions in; on others, I had an epic galactic adventure lasting over an hour. After you complete a mission, you can choose between three new buffs but there are many ways to obtain these through exploration. There are oodles of weapons, armour pieces, and shoes to discover adding to the wide range or variables you’ll encounter. This only adds to the draw to play again. Fortunately, you are able to quit the game between levels which saves all progress until you decide to play again later.
Get Dressed Up
Graphics are a familiar pixelated look with a retro-feeling soundtrack to boot. It’s a look and feels that’s familiar, but what helps DIG stand out is the variety in planet designs, each with its own style. You have ice worlds, lava words and even obscure cloud worlds, all of which have a variety of enemies to encounter. Exploring the galaxy never felt so exciting in pixel form.
A feature I really liked is how your character’s cosmetic appearance will change when you add new clothes or weapons. You may start the game as a smart doctor, but near the end of a run, you’re wearing a halo, a multicoloured shirt and brandishing an enormous pick axe because why not? Your character may hold some pretty threatening weapons, but there isn’t anything gory in the game, making the experience pretty safe for most family members. Human enemies do make a rather amusing scream when they die, which some may interpret differently.
Conclusion – Guardians of the Roguelike Galaxy
DIG is the type of roguelike that maintains my faith in the genre, which shows no signs of going away any time soon. The premise is silly, it’s hard not to crack a smile, and the gameplay is so fun that once you start a run, it’s very hard to put down. There’s so much content to unpack, from characters to unlock to items to discover.
I found plenty of small nit-picks, including difficulty with the hook shot, and sometimes the jumping was a bit awkward in boss fights. The missions felt a bit similar in design, but none of these niggles affected my adventure through the stars to save the galaxy. I absolutely recommend this to roguelike fans or anyone testing the genre for the first time. DIG is only on the PC now, but I sure would love to play this portably someday. Guess I need to start saving for a Steam Deck.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot