by Camrin Santchi
reviewed on PC
Simulator games are infamous on the Internet, taking something in the real world that is either mundane or just plain boring and turning it into something incredibly entertaining. This phenomenon truly began way back in the 1980s but received a surge and even a genre adjustment of sorts with the release of the infamous Goat Simulator.
In the vein of the fabled Goat Simulator, Cave Digger PC is filled with references and cheeky gags, beyond being a surprisingly satisfying game all about mining. Why yes, there is a rather thorough Minecraft reference, in case that description gave gamers mental images of another mining game with rather blocky graphics.
Way out West
Gamers take the role of the sole member of an old abandoned western style town. Armed only with a mining elevator and a pickaxe at first, gamers can rebuild this dilapidated town one upgrade at a time. One of the major upgrades includes getting a train working. This train will allow players to leave the town itself and head into the nearby caves, where more loot can be found and retrieved than is the case in the timed excursions into the earth with the elevator.
Rebuilding the town and receiving upgrades to go deeper into the caves are one thing, but gamers can also use their hard-earned money to receive upgrades to their tool kit. Sticks of dynamite, a drill to receive oil, and a mysterious item called a Chaos Gauntlet can all be purchased. The Chaos Gauntlet is particularly interesting as it can be upgraded to have many different uses with peculiar Chaos Gems.
As aforementioned with the reference to Minecraft, and the Chaos Gauntlet, eagle eyed players will notice subtle nods across the board by exploring the gameís world, both in exploration and in the achievements that can be earned. Some are easier to find than others, so wandering the world is encouraged. The pacing of the game is reasonably slow, but this results in limited pressure to do anything quicker than you would like.
The game has a multitude of endings, some of which are easier to find than others. Some may even catch players by surprise due to their abruptness or what seemingly odd combination will make them occur. The old timey radio is one of the few voices that is heard in this game and offers flavor text for the actions that the players make, as well as for the end credits of each ending. While it isnít always easy to hear, in part due to the well-designed proximity-based sounds, it is always good to listen in for a chuckle or two.
The only notable problem I had with Cave Digger is how long it takes to truly acquire enough money to keep progressing. This is managed by learning how to make more use of different tools in order to maximize profits, but occasionally bad luck will strike and a mine-able wall spawns in lacking resources. Patience is very much key if gamers want to see everything this game has to offer. One of the best examples is probably an extended walk down into a cave, which almost feels like there is an invisible wall of some kind until the player finally reaches the end. This adds to a slightly eerie atmosphere that is seen in some parts of the game, due in part to being the only human around. And to think, the scariest thing this gamer came across is an affectionate, sentient treasure chest nicknamed ĎMimií that follows the player around and can be fed treasure, or even sticks of dynamite for humorous results.
With that being said, the game is fully capable of allowing gamers to pour hours into it and is fully aware of exactly that thought process. Based on my time playing the game, that is exactly the itch that developers Mekiwi were aiming to scratch when they created Cave Digger. The game also has a VR version, and while I donít have access to VR tech, I can only imagine that it adds to the immersion of the rustic town and simple pace of spending as much time as possible mining and accumulating wealth. Some upgrades are merely aesthetic rather than helping gamers progress in some way or another, but they do breathe new life into the long abandoned and almost eerie mining town that the game takes place in. Despite some problems which are just part of the genre, Cave Digger is a very entertaining game that is very exploration focused.
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Well Designed, Exploration Focused
Collecting enough money to progress takes a lot of time, feels empty at times