Reviews from

in the past

Shovel Knight Dig was a masterclass of a rogue-lite and I had a blast exploring every nook and cranny the game had to offer. Gonna be returning to find everything I can over time. Fantastic OST by Jake Kaufman yet again, and phenomenal pixel art from nitrome. Heavily reccomend!

Not my favorite roguelite, even tho it has mountains of polish and I am a fan of shoveknight. The levels often swing from quite challenging to quite easy and the difficulty curve doesn't sit well. Just never felt fully engaged.

- Excellent sprite work and music
- Camera goes very low sometimes so very easy to get hit by random enemies from above but overall fairly easy
- Only took me 2:30 to beat the game so would not recommend unless you plan to 100% it
- Automatically pogoing when you jump messed with my muscle memory for about an hour

Shovel Knight Dig is a fun little roguelite that fans of the original will probably get a kick out of. In terms of gameplay, it's probably closest to Downwell with little hints of Flinthook mixed in. The difficulty curve is kinda wack and the zoomed-in camera can be the cause of a few cheap deaths, but overall, it's Shovel Knight goodness stuffed into a neat roguelite package. However, it does run VERY short for its price point; I was able to finish a run in about 6 hours, only a few more to get the true ending, and beyond that there's not much else to do. I'm not a "$$$ = hours played" type of guy, but it makes it hard to fully recommend Shovel Knight Dig. Fun game, but expect to be done with it in under 10 hours unless you go for all the achievements or something.

As a rogue-lite approach to Shovel Knight, Dig introduces a lot of cool changes accompanied by some subtle tweaks, which I think to end up making a pretty awesome spin-off with a lot of unique elements.
Besides the rogue-lite elements, the greatest shift compared to the original game is the emphasis on vertical scrolling. This, along with clever level gimmicks and a more intricate digging mechanic, leads to concisely designed platforming and hidden secrets, even when parts of the level design are randomized. Vertical scrolling is not without its drawbacks though, as enemies can occasionally get the drop on you, especially if you're returning from a sub-area.
The main change of the game, the rogue-lite elements, make a lot of fundamental changes as well. Dig is a lot more difficult compared to the original game, definitely to facilitate the aspects of replayability and upgrading in rogue-lites, but I think it's still important to mention how much more densely packed the enemies are and how much faster the pace of the game is. Throughout runs, you can receive certain temporary buffs, and while they are not created equally, they can certainly give you an edge in a run. The risk and reward, in terms of exploring for gold to get potential buffs and optimizing your choice of upgrade in each stage based on how well you did, always made each of my runs feel exciting.
Really the only gripes I really have with Dig, besides the really short length, is the balance of randomization. What items you get, mid-game stages, and the boss or level layouts are, of course, random. If you happen to get a particularly challenging stage layout, do not have any good items or sub-weapons, or miss enough gears before a boss, you are most likely going to die and lose much of your progress. I will definitely mention; dying, getting permanent upgrades, randomization, and becoming more skilled are aspects of rogue-lites that Dig has accordingly. You have several options to improve your runs, like getting armor, weapon upgrades, and level warps. But some aspects of balance between upgrades and choices felt off to me personally. I do believe each individual's run and the upgrades they've purchased will be different in every player’s playthroughs, but my experience starting at the last area via warp and beating the final boss, felt much easier compared to my previous attempt getting up to the last area with similar upgrades, and my run with no permanent upgrades.
The new visuals and music also are fantastic, but I think that that is easily clear. Despite the criticisms I have, I still do think the game is incredible, I thought the level design and new mechanics led to a lot of great moments. Even though an actual successful run through this game from start to finish can be only 25 minutes, I believe Yacht Club and Nitrome did an excellent job making this game challenging to master and just as enduring to replay.