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The Dig (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168604)
Written on  :  Nov 27, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars

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Can you dig it?

The Good

Dig is a real oddball among the fine creations of LucasArts. They made it when the golden age of comedy adventure was already gone, and the meditative, minimalistic techniques of Myst began to mesmerize people. This game is, in a way, a tribute to Myst done by developers whose previous work was associated with quite a different type of adventure design.

First things first: Dig has killer production values. I think it was supposed to be a movie at some point, and that really shows. Dramatic animated cutscenes, gorgeously drawn backgrounds, and a rich musical score complemented by perfectly placed sound effects beautiful, great combination of colors and shapes make them a work of art in itself. You really feel you are lost in a gorgeous, but strange and possibly hostile alien world. And when you are looking at those backgrounds and listening to the music and to the perfectly placed sound effects, you feel as immersed as you are in a cinema.

The Bad

With all that said, "Dig" does indeed have some irritating points. First, the puzzles aren't quite of usual LucasArts quality. And I'm not talking about the so-called "Myst-like" puzzles, which were very well done, but about the usual inventory-based puzzles LucasArts are so good at. They were repetitive, not very exciting, and in many cases unnecessary. It is cool to use a rod to open the door, but why is it necessary to have five rods to open five doors (and to go through the same color- and shape- changing procedure), and a couple of rods which have nothing to do with the doors but which are there just to bring more confusion? Many puzzles are also unnecessary tough - critter-catching, prism-adjusting, and the famous turtle-reviving are real nightmares that would have probably consume an enormous amount of my time if I didn't choose to consult a walkthrough (in case of the turtle, a friend helped me to solve it). Games like "Dig" should have a built-in walkthrough, like Tex Murphy games.

There is a lot of backtracking in "Dig", which can become rather boring with the time, although I must say that the breathtaking backgrounds decorating the game made those trips much less annoying than they could have been. The problem is that shortly after the initial part of the game you'll find yourself in a rather large area with several passages and doors you can't access. From that point on, you'll spend almost the entire game in this area. You'll immediately know that what awaits you is running back and forth through the very same (admittedly beautiful, but still the same) place. There are some very dynamic scenes in the game, but also quite a great deal of monotony.

And the ending is... oh well... those Americans... they simply won't get satisfied with anything less than a demonstrative, blatant, over-the-top Happy End, will they? I understand a tragic ending in Japanese style would have probably ruined the game, but this child-like overwhelming happiness was artificial and exaggerated. But hey, it's Spielberg, right? So what the hell did I expect?

The Bottom Line

Dig is most certainly LucasArts most controversial, and generally least beloved adventure game. I've played through it two times, and my opinion fluctuated widely between the camps of the "haters" and the "redeemers", until I found myself assuming a middle position of sorts. There is surely a lot of quality stuff to be found in the game, and it is by no means the failure some people make it out to be. But in the end, your tender comedy-inclined hearts probably won't be able to favor majestic alien monotony and insane turtle puzzles over having a hippie design the American flag or telling your pirate opponent that he fights like a cow. They tried to catch the elusive soul of Myst, but lost the bright spirit of LucasArts in the process.