This week's episode looks at one of my favorite science fiction adventure games, LucasArts' 1995 masterpiece The Dig. Widely poo-poohed by critics and dismissed even by some fans of Lucasfilm/Lucasarts adventures, The Dig is nevertheless a must-play game with a brilliant story and very memorable characters. I love it! I tried not to include any spoilers, but as always with an adventure game review, you should consider playing it before watching the video.
P.S. Special thanks to Bill Loguidice for the t-shirt! What a great way to celebrate turning 33!
I hear where you're coming from. It's indeed a great story, great presentation, great graphics, etc., and who cares if it's too short?
The problem is the game is too hard! And I think that's why people complain that it's too linear - because if you get stuck on a puzzle, you're stuck forever, with nothing else to do, and no way to advance that great story.
I don't remember specifics anymore, but I remember that the puzzles were way too hard and not clued very well if at all. Even after reading hints I didn't know what to do in some cases.
BTW, happy birthday! I was born 2 years and 2 days before you. :)
First off, I loved the box the Dig came in (shiny things rock).
Secondly, while it didn't have the flair of Lucasarts "other" adventure games, or Sierra's, I thought it was a great addition to the genre. It had a story different enough and relatively unique enough to hold the attention and be entertaining. I don't think you should play every game with the hopes that it will change your world or provide you some insight into life. Sometimes, you play a game to be entertained. :-)
Thirdly, did I mention the fancy box it came in?
I absolutely loved the Dig, and only played it for the first time in early 2010 when I got in a Steam Christmas sale.
The story is great, but it is ultimately driven by the character interaction, which is simply superb. I am not really into adventure games either.
I made a conscious decision to try and avoid the use of spoilers and walk thrus, and I am glad I did. Only had to peak a few times!
Warning: spoilers ahead.
There's only one puzzle that is really poorly designed (IMO, at least). That is simply a design flaw. The puzzle is simple enough (re-arrange some bones to match a fossil you find in the same location), but there's no feedback from the game to let you know you've succeeded. So, you might think you have it wrong and keep on and on. All it would have taken was for Lowe to say, "That's it!" and exit the puzzle.
Perhaps the most infamous puzzle is a trap you have to build to capture a small alien creature. The in-game hint suggests you need to find some bait or "be a sheepdog," but it's not clear what that means. Again, the developers wanted you to do approach the puzzle in a unique way, but didn't make it clear enough what was called for. The hint should have been something like, "Maybe I could hide over there and walk the other way around" or something to that effect. Granted, that may have been too easy, but just "be a sheepdog" isn't clear enough (and even misleading).
Oh my, I didn't know The Dig had complaints by anyone standards - I think its one of the best examples of how to make and adventure game, at that time.
Well, back to waiting the next Matt Chat :)
This is the first time I have actually seen footage of this game. Looks pretty good and I'm going play it.
What I liked about the Dig was that it felt like a movie in the way that games SHOULD feel like movies--a story that holds your attention, characters who endear themselves to you, and drama that feels like real drama. Most games fail in one or more of these areas. True, it doesn't matter in many games, but if they're going to try for something like this (such as in Dragon Age or Mass Effect), it's critical to hit them all. For instance, Halo really nailed the story, but the characters and drama were rather lacking. Mass Effect nailed the characters and drama, but the story was only so-so. The LucasArts classics usually nailed the characters and occasionally the story, but the drama was often missing (i.e., clearly cut bad guys, no real dissension within the ranks). Of course, comedy is a much different skill than something serious like The Dig, and just as difficult to get right (compare Monkey Island with Simon the Sorcerer, for instance).
Here's a bit of trivia on this game. The main character, Boston Low, was voiced by Robert Patrick, who was popular at the time for his role in Terminator 2: Judgement Day as the T-1000 terminator. There is an Easter egg in the game where a picture of a boy shows up as a conversation option. If you click it, he says, "Have you seen this boy?" in his T-1000 cop voice.
I always meant to give this a try but I think my computer at the time was too slow.