Shovel Knight Dig (Switch eShop) review

Captured on a Nintendo Switch (handheld/not included)

Since the appearance of the last 8-bit game, Shovel Knight has been branching out further into other genres as developer and publisher Yacht Club charts a path where the noble that bears his name will go next. In December, we got the awesome Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon, which cleverly blended fall-back puzzle mechanics with roguelite game design. Now, we’re getting another roguelite in Shovel Knight Dig, but only this time the gameplay aligns with the core action system of the original game. As you’d probably expect from this franchise now, it’s absolute Explosion To play, the developer of Nitrome (Bomb Chicken) offers a new challenging, rewarding and fun experience that fans of the series will want to explore right away.

The Shovel Knight Dig takes place sometime before the original Shovel Knight, so the Shield Knight has yet to disappear, and the Enchantress has yet to take power and form the Order of No Quarter. Here, the main villain is a new character named Drill Knight, who has formed a group of knights called Hexcavators to help him raid a treasure chamber buried somewhere deep in the earth. Their efforts to do so – and the massive hole they created – are creating problems for people on the surface, so Shovel Knight and Shield Knight delve deeper into trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

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Captured on a Nintendo Switch (handheld/not included)

The story is clearly not much of a focus here, as it is a highly repeatable rogue platformer game first and foremost. However, what’s here creates a certain amount of intrigue as you can’t help but wonder what awaits you at the bottom of the hole, and fans of the series will appreciate the many nods to other titles that happen later in the Shovel Knight timeline. For example, it’s fascinating to see the Shovel Knight and Shield Knight relationship in more of the brief flashbacks we get elsewhere in the series, and interactions with previous incarnations of Mole Knight and Tinker Knight from before their time in the No Quarter arrangement provides some great insights into Personalities. The ‘science’ isn’t too heavy here, so privileged beginners won’t feel like they’re missing out on much, but those who’ve played previous versions will appreciate seeing how that fits in.

The gameplay can best be described as what the original Shovel Knight game would look like if it was built according to Downwell’s design philosophy. You play as the titular blue knight and each round begins with a hole jumping, the goal is simply to get to the bottom as fast as you can while collecting as much as possible on your way down. Each half is divided into biomes made up of three levels, with the final fourth level consisting of a boss fight with the knight residing in that area. Every time you get into a fight, you are brought back to the surface and you have to try it again. You keep some of the gems collected from each run, but other than that you lose all upgrades and inventory items that weren’t already permanent.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Installed)

Suffice it to say, the difficulty is harsh, but it is not necessarily unfair. You don’t really have a lot of health to start each round, and although this can be expanded later via shops and upgrades, the healing items are usually quite low. Most failures, then, aren’t because you hit a brick wall that you simply can’t get past, but rather a death by a thousand cuts as each miscalculated jump and a grueling encounter with the enemy eventually add up to a bottom line. You would have thought the solution would be to simply make things slow and run it safe, but there is constantly a huge, indomitable drill bit weighing you down from above. Most of the time, you don’t even know it’s there, but if you take too much time fiddling around and trying to snatch every gem and collectible, it will catch up to you quickly and kill you instantly.

Given this, there is a delicious kind of tension in every minute of your run. Shovel Knight Dig definitely adheres to the “rich gets richer” philosophy where effective gameplay is rewarded with rewards that make the game easier, while poor gameplay makes things more difficult for you the longer you go. It is in your best interest to collect as many gems as possible on your way down, as this will directly give you more ability to purchase relics, upgrades, and healing items if you come across a shop. However, if you don’t learn how to effectively prioritize groups of gems and which ones you are going to move, the saw will eventually catch you. Finding that streak of reward and risk is a huge part of the fun of Shovel Knight Dig, and you’ll find yourself slowly building a knowledge base over time and learning the best way to handle the myriad situations and obstacles that may arise.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Installed)

Although each level is randomly generated, we appreciated how different stage tricks and enemy types came together here to handcraft these new biomes. Whether you’re hopping among mushrooms, dodging bubbles and swimming fish, or disarming bombs before they explode, there’s never a dull moment in the Dig as you swipe and jump your way to safety. Most importantly, the moment-to-moment gameplay is very similar to the original Shovel Knight; You have the exact same set of moves and even the physics look exactly the same. Looking at this, it seems that you are always able to overcome the barriers in front of you, but not to the point that any of them become trivial. Even common fake enemies can strike a tricky blow at you now and then, and the damage you take there can mean the difference between life and death when you later fall in some ripple.

Along the way, you find ways to add to the Shovel Knight’s ammo and this is where the chances of survival increase exponentially. In treasure chests or in stores, for example, you can pick up relics that give you access to new items with limited use to help even with the odds. Whether it’s a form of short-range teleportation, a useful projectile attack, or a way to rise briefly, each Relic has very clear use cases to help get you out of trouble.

Additionally, you can get upgrades in stores that give you either flat bumps for your health or magical stats, useful passive abilities like gem magnets or a wider shovel swing range. If you are diligent in collecting gems along the way, you can usually buy a thing or two at every store, but you don’t have enough to get everything you want.

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Captured on a Nintendo Switch (handheld/not included)

Additionally, there are three golden gears in each level, placed in obvious but slightly inaccessible areas. It usually takes more risk to capture them, but if you collect them all, you’ll be given a choice at the end of the stage between a full health recovery or a new, random passive upgrade. These golden gears are made leaked The difference in your runs — the benefit of full health recovery can’t be overstated — but introduces another variable to consider when you’re in the thick of things and weighing your options. We appreciated the role of gears in the overall gameplay loop; They challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself, but the costs of doing so can be high.

Those who enjoy some epic roguelite progression will be happy to note that there are some permanent upgrades that go on between runs. The gems left from running will be thrown into your bank, and can then be spent on things like different armor sets to modify your playstyle or new types of relics that can then appear in later attempts. These promotions are not of the variety that will be a guarantee You’ll succeed if you keep working long enough, but they offer useful and hobbyist tools that increase your chance of success beyond the basic set. Perhaps most importantly, it appears that the economy here is also well managed; You can’t buy everything in a few runs like you do in Pocket Dungeon.

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Captured on a Nintendo Switch (handheld/not included)

In terms of presentation, Shovel Knight Dig jumps the franchise from 8-bit to 16-bit and brings with it all the new fidelity you’d expect. The art style feels like a natural progression of what has come before, and seeing lovable characters and enemies in a more expressive and detailed style is exciting for Shovel Knight veterans. Each of the environments is given their own distinct color palettes and has a lot of fun details going on in their backgrounds, whether it’s sticky insect hives or damp ruins decorated with hassles.

Meanwhile, the soundtrack blends together a remix of classic tunes and all-new music to create a captivating backdrop for all the choppy and dashing pieces. Hearing more complex and layered music compared to the original games’ 8-bit chiptunes is interesting, but none of it feels out of place or far from what came before. The soundtrack seems to be generally more memorable here, although this could just be a side effect of the more intense gameplay pace. You don’t have much time to focus on music when you’re fighting for your life!

If there’s one complaint we have about the Shovel Knight Dig, it can feel like it’s too short, even by roguelite standards. The first full clear came less than three hours after we started overall play, and while there’s more to unlock and try in subsequent runs, we’re still in over 50% of our file at this point. The content here is certainly high quality and well worth your time, but in many ways it looks more like a side dish than a main course. Those who search for dead cells or go into a Gungeon-style experiment can take dozens Some watches may feel too disappointed to be completely conquered.

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Captured on a Nintendo Switch (handheld/not included)

However, there’s also quite a bit of replay potential here other than initial unlocks for those who are more competitive. Although there aren’t any multiplayer, you can post results from your rounds to the global leaderboard to see how you stack up, and there are also daily and weekly offers to keep you coming back. You can sort these leaderboards to show who’s on your friends list as well, allowing you to focus on keeping your competition more local if you prefer. This leaderboard integration helps keep subsequent runs from feeling cluttered by providing a secondary incentive, as always someone There is a little bit better than you that you can work to bring down.

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