Last week, as I was rummaging through the heap of XboxLive Indi-Games, I stumbled across a true gem. Miner Dig Deep serves an important reminder that at the end of the day fun does not take fancy tricks or impressive polygons. A simple idea, well designed shines through.
Miner Dig Deep's simple idea is all in the name. You are a miner and your goal is to dig as deep as you can. The game sports pleasant, if simple, 2D graphics and pleasant background music that helps set a relaxing tone. The game presents the player with a single shop and save point at ground level, and then meter after meter of dirt to be dug.
The player makes all his or her own paths and, digging ever deeper, finds new ores and minerals to haul back and sell. Lamp fuel and bag space serve to limit each run into the mine. While you can always see the pathways you've dug, lamp light reveals the location of precious ore and hazardous, unbreakable rocks that you have not yet discovered. As lamp fuel is used, the aura of illumination shrinks, revealing less and less. Eventually, you find yourself digging blindly, unsure of where the next hazard awaits you. When this happens, or when your bag is so full of treasure you can hold no more, it's time to ascend to the surface, sell all your loot and buy new equipment and upgrades.
Miner Dig Deep hits all the right beats. Every time the game encourages you to come up for air, you will undoubtedly have enough money to buy or upgrade your tools in some useful way. Almost every time you head back into the mine it is with a new toy to try out. The penalty for getting stuck or killed in the mine is simply being warped back to the top without any of the ore gained on your recent trip.
The only part that some players might find tedious is the trip back to the bottom of the mine to continue digging. As the mine gets hundred of meters deep, this can start to feel a little tedious. There are teleporters placed at various levels to warp you safely back to the surface, but you cannot warp back down. At first, I found this a bit frustrating. However, I realized that if the player could just warp back to the lowest point it would make the entire mine above irrelevant. Put in this perspective, the trip down became just another part of the game, and I found enjoyment in digging new paths to help make the descent faster. Additionally, you descend past previous mined areas with more lamp fuel at your disposal and often see ore that you missed before.
Bang For A Buck
Miner Dig Deep has an ending, but only after you've dug well past 1000 meters deep. My first play through took me almost 6 hours after which the game let me start a new mine will all my advanced tools. I had a blast as I dug all the way to the bottom again in 15 minutes. The mine is randomly generated each time, so I find myself tempted to start a proper new game and build a new mine from scratch all over again.
All this fun can be had for only 80 Microsoft Points ($1.00). I'm sure many people have at least that many points laying around as left over from prior purchases. I cannot remember the last time I was this entertained for so little money. Buy this game. You won't regret it.
If you do buy it, leave a comment and let me know how you liked it. Also, for a review of another game that presents simple fun, check out my friends at Growing Up Gamers as their 5 year old daughter reviews Sonic Colors for the Wii.