Shovel Knight Dig leans on its lineage while managing to carve out a niche of its own. Although the core gameplay can be fun and addictive, some problematic design choices, bugs, and a lack of meaningful long-term progression prevent Shovel Knight Dig from being great.
An indie darling from nearly a decade ago, the original Shovel Knight’s success spawned a host of DLC, a fighting game called Shovel Knight Showdown, and even a puzzle game. Shovel Knight Dig is the franchise’s latest entry, turning the series to a subgenre into which it had yet to venture: rogue-likes.
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The titular Knight awakens violently one night as his camp is destroyed, and an enormous hole appears where it once was. Just like that, players are thrust into the game, plummeting down on a mission to get back the Knight’s coveted bag of treasure.
The largest difference the game has with most others in the Shovel Knight series is immediately apparent: rather than a classic side-scrolling adventure, this game has the player moving ever downward. Enemies and environmental objects impede the way, secrets and treasure rooms lure players off to the side, but momentum presses players down. Not to mention the giant, deadly Omega Saw that constantly pursues the Knight.
The game is separated into biomes, each with three stages capped off by a boss fight. Players will progress through a total of 4 biomes in a normal playthrough, and are prompted at the end of each stage to choose one of two paths. These paths are adorned with signs, offering information on what will be found on the chosen route – a surplus of a certain type of enemy, an extra speedy Omega Saw, or an item vendor, for example. Regardless of which path is taken, each route is guaranteed to present the knight with a variety of monsters and environmental obstacles, like spikes or flamethrowers, as well as lots of side passages, either marked with a lantern or hidden.
Players will need to take these side…