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The Dig (DOS)

83
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  doo (5)
Written on  :  Feb 17, 2007
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars

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Summary

Worst game I have ever played.

The Good

The puzzles, if viewed in isolation from having been intended to be part of a broader 'game', were good. As far as logic puzzles go, they were mostly enjoyable. They were not typical find-object-to-satisfy-need point-and-click puzzles but were more along the lines of manipulating objects according to some apparent logic.

The only part of the game which was actually enjoyable was the part where you have to reassemble a turtle. Having said that, I am a huge fan of reassembling turtles generally. Turtles are funny.

The graphics were generally well-produced (though lacking any real style or cohesive direction).

The acting was adequate (assuming the characters were supposed to be that obnoxious).

The Bad

The Dig doesn't really have a story. Or rather what little it does have is fully played out during the fmv intro and subsequent semi-interactive set-piece. Now we are stranded on an alien world accompanied by three incredibly obnoxious characters, the most obnoxious of which is supposed to represent 'us' in game. He really is incredibly obnoxious and would have spoiled it for me had the game not been so awful in so many other ways.

Ok, so now the aim of the game is 'to get back home', which is fine as an aim. Unfortunately the puzzles and this aim don't really fit together. Stranded on an alien world, I wouldn't tend to reassemble turtles (I mean I would, but not in the hope that it would help me get home) or play alien games which always seem to revolve around basic geometric shapes. What I would do is try to fix my spaceship or something. What I'm getting at is that the tasks in the game are utterly abstracted from any 'storyline' - I have no idea what each puzzle is going to achieve in terms of getting me home until after I've completed it. And for that reason it may as well, for the most part, be a puzzle compendium.

On completing these puzzles, we get results. This isn't a story, there is no overarching direction to events, it just feels like a series of disjointed events following my completion of largely abstract puzzles. The connection between puzzles/actions and events/results becomes more and more disjointed as the game progresses until the point when sentient llamas appear and start resurrecting people and having beards and so forth.

I played this game to its conclusion because it made me so angry that I didn't want it to feel like it had won. I wasn't frustrated or angered by the puzzles as is often the case in these games, I was angered by the plain badness of the experience. I also harboured some vain hope that the ending might make up for the pain and tedium of the whole experience. It absolutely did not.

The different methods of illustration (rendered and hand-drawn), while all well-done in their own right, often jarred against each other and would have perhaps encroached on the immersion, had there been any.

The Bottom Line

My summary wasn't hyperbole, I've played some bad games but none worse than The Dig. If I could go to an alien world where sentient llamas would scrub my memory clean of ever having played this game, I absolutely would. I would even reassemble all their turtles in payment.

I should perhaps say that I'm not a fan of LucasArts adventures in general, so I wasn't coming at this expecting one of those pirate games or Sam and Max. I do enjoy the Broken Sword series, so perhaps that's helpful, I don't know.

I would say that if you're after this sort of thing, perhaps play Myst (which while being awful, does have some cohesion between plot and puzzles) or Nomad Soul (similar puzzle-style but far more to it). Or Broken Sword, because it does serious-point-and-click-with-humour well.