PAX West Spotlight: Shovel Knight Dig

PAX West Spotlight: Shovel Knight Dig

Shovel Knight Dig is a spin off of Yacht Club Games popular indie platformer, Shovel Knight. I had the original Shovel Knight on Wii U, but never really got into it and was never sure if that was because of the game itself or the console I was playing it on. Shovel Knight Dig, being developed by Nitrome, takes a lot of its characteristics from the original game, and turns it into something completely different gameplay wise.

In Shovel Knight Dig, you use the titular characters shovel for what it was actually meant to do, dig. Although you aren’t just digging a hole, you’re digging your way down through procedural generated levels, collecting gems, and bouncing off of enemies and obstacles along the way. You can only dig through dirt, so you can’t just dig through any surface. As you dig, you also have to watch out for obstacles like spikes, that you have to bounce over by using nearby enemies or other platforms. The bouncing mechanic, also known as the Shovel Drop, introduced in the original Shovel Knight, is the key to making progress through a level when not digging through dirt.

While most of the time you just keep going down deeper, every once in awhile you have to go left or right to get to the next section of the level. Sometimes there are multiple directions you can go, and at other times there’s only one. This is where the game can get tricky, because if you take too long a giant drill will drop on you from above, so you have to make quick decisions if your digging is halted.

Besides the enemies you’ve seen before in Shovel Knight, Shovel Knight Dig also features bosses which must be defeated in order to progress. Unfortunately during my session I didn’t have enough time to face a boss, but I would assume that they’re just as well designed as they were in the preceding titles.

Shovel Knight Dig wasn’t a game I expected to enjoy so much, but even now just writing about it I can’t wait to play it again in the future. It feels like the spiritual successor to Mr. Driller that I’ve always wanted, combined with one of the most well known indie games around. It’s great that Yacht Club Games isn’t afraid to experiment with their core IP in new ways, and I’m curious to see what the think of next.

A release window and platforms have not been announced, but it’s likely that Shovel Knight Dig will be on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

 

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