One of the creations of the Digipen Institute, Dig-N-Rig is a ‘miner’ game but don’t let that fool you. Pitted as a robot ordered to drill to the center of the Earth, Dig-N-Rig is a short ride, but one that hides some surprising complexity and atmosphere.
Created by four students at the Digipen Institute, Dig-n-Rig is a “mining simulator” that pits you as Diggit, a robot designed to dig into the Earth, custom-build a rig system and extract a plethora of minerals for
personal gain saving the world. At first glace, you’d be forgiven for expecting Dig-n-Rig to be a straightforward affair: dig down as far as possible, collect a bunch of gems, return to the surface to upgrade your equipment so that you can go further, then repeat ad infinitum. It’s a formula that has basically worked in a lot of early flash games like Motherload and, later, evolved and turned into what can only be described as an… alternative-lifestyle choice (Minecraft). Luckily, Dig-n-Rig sits somewhere between the middle – offering a bit more hidden depth and complexity than the former, but not quite as lifeforce absorbing as the latter.
As you begin your life in the world of Dig-n-Rig, you’ve just hopped off the Assembly line ready to plunge your drill deep into the soft belly of the earth for precious minerals. Your bot can run straight into the dirt to automatically start drilling. However, you don’t actually manually collect the bountiful commodities hiding under every tile – instead, the conveyor belts and scoopers (the ‘rig’) must be carefully placed in order to help the minerals commute up to the laboratory for processing. You can select from different parts from the menu on the left, then use the right mouse button to place your rig. Of course, the necessary parts cost minerals, and as you dig deeper, you’ll need larger and more elaborate rigs, which require more and more minerals. This is where Dig-n-Rig gets more complex – eventually you’ll have large world-spanning rigs supporting your attempts to stripmine the Earth (or possibly beyond…) into oblivion (which apparently will help in saving it). Rigs aren’t the only tools at your disposal however, and you’ll need to upgrade some equipment such as your wifi connection (to allow you to go further from the lab, i.e. mine deeper), and stronger drillbits. However the lab has a generous supply of destructive items and Bond style gadgets – which I will try not to spoil too much here – but will say that they go beyond just getting better drills and armour.
Hidden character lies underneath the surface, quite literally, too. In addition to the rigging system and variety of equipment and items at your disposal, the different ‘layers’ takes a step up from the ‘now-you-face-the-same-enemies-but-palette-swapped!’ approach that I was expecting. Each layer brings with it its own theme and surprises. Although these differences are really mostly just aesthetic, it makes exploring a laugh and keeps things more interesting.
Having said all that, Dig-n-Rig is not without its character flaws. While it can probably eat away a whole day if you let it, the overall content is quite short, and to put it nicely: heinously unbalanced. It won’t take long to learn how to simply stripmine large chunks at once, eschewing the potential creativity or challenge of the rigging system. The rate of mineral acquisition and upgrades is similarly wonky – you’ll likely end up progressing faster than the game expects you to, and become too powerful too quickly. The game could use some tweaking toward a more paced, and gradual feeling of satisfying progression. Being a student game it’s somewhat understandable, really, and in some ways its really doing you a favour – Dig-n-Rig is dangerously addictive so in someways its a godsend that it’s actually quite short.
Download: Digipen site