The Dig

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Stilts
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The Dig

Post by Stilts » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:03 am

First Contact Strategy #37: Teleporting Asteroid

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For today’s review, Mr. Peabody and I are taking the Wayback Machine to the year 1995, when LucasArts was still in their adventure game period. How is this relevant at all to the modern gamer? Glad you asked! The game they released that year—The Dig—has very recently been released on Steam for $4.99. Of course, the majority of adventure games were notorious for their bizarre and illogical puzzles, which could quickly induce levels of rage rarely seen today outside of Ninja Gaiden playthroughs. So, is this relic of the past worth experiencing? Short answer: yes. Long answer…

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Which, when you're out in space placing nuclear explosives on an asteroid, is a pretty good concern.

If you take even the briefest of glances at the credits on The Dig, you’ll notice it has quite the impressive pedigree. Stephen Spielberg was the idea man, Orson Scott Card wrote the dialogue, and one of the main characters was voiced by Steven Blum…who, in a nice change of pace, is doing a voice that sounds like someone other than Steven Blum. Oh, and Boston Low—the character the player controls—is voiced by Robert Patrick, who’s supposedly kind of famous. Something about being a liquid metal robot in some kind of sci-fi film. I think it started with a “t”…

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"Turns out everyone else had discovered donuts, too."

Anyway, the game certainly puts its star-power to good use. The story, which can be described in brief as “'Survivor' in space with a zombie,” is actually pretty interesting and, despite Low’s military experience, focuses more on psychology than blowing stuff up. There is always a sense that the three stranded humans are one wrong move away from being destroyed by their mysterious, alien surroundings, which is a nice change of pace from the seemingly endless numbers of gritty space marines (or normal marines) mowing through hostiles that we’ve been seeing in recent years. As for the dialogue, it’s mostly entertaining (or at least realistic) and the voice actors put in good performances. Special mention should be made of Steven Blum’s character, Dr. Brink, whose dialogue and voice acting convey a perfect blend of arrogance, annoyance and increasingly greater amounts of paranoia.

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Uh...not really sure where the "falls" are, but I'm too busy staring at the pretty colors to care.

In a testament to the skills of the art team, the environments still look detailed and gorgeous. It’s actually exciting to find out what’s behind the next door, a feeling many modern games still have trouble evoking. Unfortunately, the detailed backgrounds can sometimes camouflage important things you need to click on, leading to some annoying pixel-hunting. This can occasionally make the game’s puzzles, most of which are quite good and logical, harder than they actually are. Even the notorious turtle-skeleton puzzle makes perfect sense if you’re observant and have a basic understanding of what a skeleton should look like. That said, it may be a good idea to keep a FAQ nearby for the end of the game, since the necessary sequence of events can get a little confusing because of a lack of decent subtle guidance.

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I know what you're thinking, and yes, it is as phallic as it looks.

Even if it starts to lose its luster near the end, The Dig is definitely worth experiencing for anyone who enjoys old or new adventure games. The unique story and great creative team more than make up for any frustration the few obtuse puzzles will likely cause.

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