Mining is one of those physically (and I believe emotionally) taxing jobs that pretty much no one would do, if they had a different choice. Well, besides maybe if the other given option was in sanitation – I can’t see that being a fun job either. Regardless, you wouldn’t imagine people voluntarily choosing to mine for fun – yet that’s exactly what Finnish indie developer VRKiwi (a subsidiary of MeKiwi) hopes will happen with their new game, Cave Digger.
Set to release for free tomorrow May 10th for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on Steam, the premise of Cave Digger is pretty much what the name says – you’re digging in a cave. Gold, silver, various precious stones, oil, and archaeological treasures. It’s all just a pickaxe swing away. So I got to see how easy it is to get rich on the Frontier by strapping on my miners hat (Vive) and taking a look at all the treasures Cave Digger has to offer.
Check out my gameplay video:
Cave Digger isn’t an overtly complicated game – which is to say it has more or less no complexity to it at all. The game hoists you down a mineshaft in an elevator – which is basically your home for the rest of the game, and lets you dig at the walls with a pickaxe until the timer runs out and the elevator hoists you back up to spend your hard-earned (and I’m assuming ill-gotten) spoils. Because while the game doesn’t feature a storyline of any sort, it does take you up to an empty saloon, directly with the mine-shaft elevator I might add, where the game automatically sells your gems and lets you buy new equipment by picking items up from the bar.
Now, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure miners didn’t buy their tools from the local saloons during the good ol’ Western frontier days. So I’m not sure what the deal is here exactly, but since the saloon seems abandoned, I’m going to venture a guess and say that this isn’t an above board, tax-paying business. Either way, I was busy hitting away my frustrations on rock walls, so I honestly couldn’t care less if the local sheriff would have decided to come see what’s going on. Not that he did.
Digging For Treasure, Drilling For Glory
There are a few tools to use throughout the various levels in the game, including a drill for oil and a bucket to get that oil. Of course, I didn’t realize at first that once the little bucket gets full, that I could simply dump the oil down the same hole I had been flinging the precious stones into, so after using an… hmmm… well let’s call it an x-ray machine for lack of a better word, to find the pockets of oil, I had been stuck with holding one bucket, which would get flung into the ether once I put it down to start digging again.
Talking about the ether – this game definitely has a way of ‘losing things’. On multiple occasions, I simply lost that handheld x-ray device because I put it down and it simply disappeared. And it wasn’t the only thing. Cave Digger also has a sort of amateur archeologist thing going where you can sometimes find bones or fine china hidden in the rock. Though I’ve yet to figure out what to do with these because the fine china would usually break the moment the rock broke apart and the bones always disappeared as soon as I touched them.
A Bad Trip
There were a couple of interesting things to discover in the game, for instance, some levels have bright green glowing mushrooms. I offhandedly took one and tried to eat it, not thinking it would work. But that thing sent me on a pretty bad trip down the mineshaft. So, of course, I was delighted to find that the game had little interesting additions like these for players to discover.
However, these small additions were few and far between, and for the most part, the gameplay pretty much sticks to hacking away at rocks. The levels in the game have no structure really, and there’s no way to keep track of them since the game has no counter and just sends you on your way ever deeper down.
One of the issues this game has is that there’s no saving mechanic. So if you quit then you’ll just have to start all over again – not that I can see this being a major problem because while Cave Digger is an undeniably fun experience, I can’t see myself playing this over and over again. Even with the scoreboard keeping track. Though there are some achievements to collect for those that are into that sort of thing. Plus I think Cave Digger could make for a fun VR party game – especially if you trick your friends into eating that spicy mushroom!
At the end of the day though, Cave Digger is a free game which makes it a definite golden nugget for any gamer’s virtual library.