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The Dig

DOS Specs [ all ]

Description official descriptions

A group of scientists discovers an asteroid that is on its way to a collision with the Earth. Is there any way to prevent the disaster? Boston Low, a NASA veteran, is sent to command a space expedition on the asteroid. Accompanied by the journalist Maggie Robbins and the archaeologist Brink, Boston investigates the asteroid and finds a strange structure that undoubtedly belongs to an alien civilization. During the course of investigations, the team finds itself on a seemingly deserted planet. They have no knowledge of the planet and no possibility of going back. Will they ever discover the secret of this strange world and find a way to get home?

The Dig is a point-and-click adventure game with a simple one-cursor interface. Most of the puzzles are inventory-based, tending to be somewhat more complex than in most preceding LucasArts' adventure games. There are also a few logic-based puzzles, which require understanding and manipulation of alien technology and life forms on the planet. Traditional branching dialogue system is utilized; however, the game focuses more on puzzle-solving than on conversations to advance the plot.

The game's story is influenced by science fiction literature and movies, and strives to be realistic, departing from the comedy style of LucasArts' adventures. Despite that, humorous elements are present in some of the dialogues and text descriptions. The game utilizes hand-drawn graphics with a few pre-rendered 3D images.

Spellings

  • 异星搜奇 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 디그 - Korean spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

235 People (207 developers, 28 thanks) · View all

Designed by
Directed by
Based on a Concept by
Dialogue by
Additional Story by
Additional Additional Story by
Art Style
Creature Concept
Lead Artist
Background Art
Supervising Animators
Animators
Special Effects Animators
Additional Animation
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 82% (based on 38 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 230 ratings with 21 reviews)

Don't get confused, The Dig is a TRUE classic

The Good
This is one of the last Lucas Arts's adventures that I had it left to play. Due to opinions and comments that I had read about it since long ago, I always thought perhaps it's not a great adventure. I imagined it was a good one, but not enough in order to consider it a classic. Well, my imagination (and much people) couldn't be more wrong: The Dig is amazing and should be an unforgettable classic. The key in The Dig is its atmospheric and intriguing story, unlike most of Lucas Arts's adventures, in which hilarious comedy and crazy-but-sidesplitting puzzles constitute their cores (Monkey Islands, Sam & Max, etc.). But The Dig has a gameplay with excellent puzzles and dialogues too…

In The Dig we take the role of Boston Low, a commander in charge of an expedition toward an asteroid which is on trajectory of collision with the Earth. Needless to say, all isn't what it seems to be, and together with his crew, the journalist Maggie Robbins and the geologist/archaeologist Dr. Ludger Brink, he initiates a fascinating adventure in a mysterious alien world. The story is full of surprises (but don't worry, I'm not going to reveal anything), and the involved-in-mystery ambience remains throughout the game. There is no moment to be bored. There are always something to explore, try and talk. Since the emphasis of the game is put in the story, and this, in turn, emphasizes the relationship between the protagonists, one would expect the dialogues offer more than some clues of puzzles and simple comments in order to "advance" through the plot: sure enough, the writers did a surprising job which surpasses any expectation. Conversations with our co-protagonist and thoughts of each one are excellently written, adding personality, emotion, humor and credibility to them and to the story. The adopted style for dialogues is similar to the one in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's adventure movies such as Indy, and Jurassic Park, that is, with enough seriousness to be convincing in dramatic moments, but also with lots of funny and unconcerned comments in order to make the adventure relaxing and amusing, without to be a comedy. Although The Dig's tone is some more serious than above films (Indy, especially), I think they serve like an example. Besides, the whole storytelling looks like directed by Spielberg, and not only dialogues, so such movies should give you also a general idea of how is the story's unfolding in The Dig: astonishing at every instant!

The gameplay is as engrossing as its story. Although the game's mechanics is similar to other LucasArts's adventures (something good by itself), it's surprising how the designers accomplished that every action were truly an important and convincing part of the story. Puzzles are very diverse, and they require exploring, talking and combining items. They are challenging (but intuitive), clever and gratifying. There is no frustration; here, there is a story to tell first, by means of a perfectly integrated to the story and its world gameplay. "To play" The Dig is a pleasure.

The audio-video aspect is an essential part in The Dig: not only it helped to sell a few more copies, but also to create an atmosphere as immersive as very few games (independently genre and age) could reach. Its graphics are simply fabulous. The exquisitely illustrated and animated landscapes, characters' animations like cartoons, and the excellent cut-scenes join to make a cinematographic experience from beginning to end. Together with Full Throttle, The Dig originated the "movie style" in graphic adventures. Equally grandiose is the audio side. The entire game is enriched by an highest quality (artistic and technic) audio labor: clear-cut environmental sounds, characters' every action are recreated with proper sounds, etc. Continuing with "cinematographic experience", the speech work is first class as well, and it's not a simple accessory as in other adventures. This task was performed with a professionalism and quality comparable to any movie which I referred to before. And I don't mean only professional actors (which certainly are professionals, like Robert Patrick), but also the whole team behind this aspect (director, editor, etc.). The musical selection is outstanding, and it couldn't be more appropriate: whether you ear the subtle music-sounds tunes that accompanies us on the outer space, which convey the infinite and intimidating greatness of space, or relaxing and reflexive melodies at the seashore, or emotional choral compositions, your ears (and your spirits) will be rewarded at every moment. Definitely, this point of the game is a strong one.

The Bad


The Bottom Line
It's a shame that much people ignore this game because it was underestimated and forgotten by others with absolute injustice. The Dig is a brilliant experience that dives us masterfully in a strange, but beautiful alien world, full of secrets and surprises. Believe me, it's truly worth it.

DOS · by jorgeabe (13) · 2006

It's OK...

The Good
I played a demo for this way back when I first got my sound card and it blew me away (the demo ended just when things were getting interesting). A few months later, I picked up a LucasArts value pack that had this game and a few others in it. I did my typical thing -- I played 'em for awhile, then put 'em back in the box and moved on.

Then a couple days ago, I played Full Throttle through to the end. It was awesome, so I figured I'd give 'The Dig' a whirl.

To appreciate the game, you have to put your brain into retro-mode -- the graphics are VGA (or maybe SVGA), so you're gonna see pixels the size of golf balls. It's an old game, made when Voodoo was still a religion.

Once your brain learns to adapt to the the pixel signals that your eyeballs are sending it (hey, it happens...) you'll see that the graphics are actually pretty cool, and the cut-scenes ain't bad either.

The characters in the story are sort of two-dimensional, but I really liked the main character -- he's a regular joe like me. He's no genius, and some of the things he says in the game are just laugh-out-loud funny (click on the dead guard beasts in the tomb and you'll see what I mean ^_^).

As far as gameplay goes, the interface is pretty basic and doesn't get in the way of the game. And then there's the music -- a great cinematic score that really set the mood for a great game.

BUT.....

The Bad
....Even though things started out pretty interesting, it got to a point where I had to revisit some of the areas over and over again. And again. And again. And again. To be honest, I ended up printing out a walkthrough of the game just so I could find out where to go next instead of searching the whole place. Again.

Most of the puzzles weren't too hard to figure out, but there were a few that turned the game into a full-scale clickfest when trying to figure out what object to use with what area. Then there were a few that were too hard for my tiny little mind to process. But then again, I had my handy little walkthrough.... heh heh.

The worst thing about 'The Dig', though, was the lack of suspense. There was no sense of urgency, and nothing that really drove me to keep playing other than hoping that something would happen. Nothing did.... not really.

There really was no plot, no big surprises, no interesting twists. The only goal was to get pixel-boy and his buddies back home.

I found a couple of possible bugs -- sometimes (well, a lot of times) I had to double-click on things since the game didn't register the first click for some reason. And I had to save, quit, and restart the game a few times when the game slowed wa-a-ay down. Maybe it was just my machine.

The Bottom Line
Bottom line, huh? Bo-o-oring. Pass it up unless you don't have anything better to do... and get a walkthrough.

DOS · by James Hicks (8) · 2000

I did not dig The Dig

The Good
Really nice music, and the graphics were beautifully drawn and lit.

The Bad
The gameplay was boring, tedious, sterile and repetitive. Like Myst. Fitting crystals into holes, fiddling around with panels and codes, wandering down or through endless unpopulated corridors and caverns. You get the idea. I'm sorry but I'm not obsessional or patient enough for a game like this (though judging by the other reviews, there are plenty of others who are).

The Bottom Line
Lucas arts are famous not only for their comedy, but also for their dialogue and their characterisation. This has very little of either, but may appeal to those who like puzzles.

DOS · by jossiejojo (37) · 2004

[ View all 21 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Messy credits chirinea (47013) Jun 16th, 2007
How did you like the voice acting in this game? LepricahnsGold (142490) Jun 8th, 2007

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The Dig appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Alien and planet name

The planet and aliens are not given a name, however the credits refer to the "Cocytan leader".

In the novelization, Brink decides to name the planet "Cocytus" from Dante's Divine Comedy, Cocytus being the exterior circle of the Underworld and the only way out. The aliens thus are referred to as "Cocytans". However, these concepts are not taken into consideration in the game.

Development

The Dig is based on the original concept of Steven Spielberg who originally created the storyline to be an episode in his Amazing Stories tv series. It would have been too expensive to shoot, so Spielberg approached LucasArts in 1989 with an idea of making it a game. The game itself went through several re-writes at LucasArts, so only the main storyline and a couple of puzzles were carried out from Spielberg's original ideas.

The Dig went through three phases of development while in production, each with different project leaders.

The first phase was led by Noah Falstein. In this version, the game was set upon a jungle planet, very unlike the final version. One major part of this version apparently was that you had to collect and consume food and water to keep your character alive.

The second phase was led by Brian Moriarty. Moriarty tossed out all of the old art from the first version, as well as the "collecting resources" RPG-style elements.

In this version, there were four characters: Boston Low, Ludger Brink, Judith Robbins, and Toshi Olema, a Japanese physicist. As in the final game, this crew was transported to an alien planet via a ship disguised as an asteroid.

This version was controlled via a standard LucasArts-style interface at the bottom of the screen containing visual icons for the functions Examine, Pick up, Use, Move, and Talk, as well as inventory items. Strangely, the game was not programmed in LucasArts' standard SCUMM engine, but instead something called StoryDroid Development System.

After a long series of internal conflicts, Brian Moriarty left the company and Sean Clark took over the project. Clark was the one who actually got the game finished. He changed Judith's name to Maggie and removed Toshi Olema from the plot.

In early betas of Sean Clark's version, the characters looked the same as they did in Brian Moriarty's version (with Low and Robbins both having blond hair). These sprites were later changed and made more visually striking.

In addition, though early betas of this new version used an interface at the bottom of the screen with the same icons for interaction as in Moriarty's game, this was later rejected for the final "one-click-does-it-all" interface which the public saw.

Also, the voices in the final game were not the same as those heard in early betas of Clark's The Dig. Those unused voices lasted long enough to be present in the official demo of The Dig.

Extras

Some copies of The Dig came with a free copy of the Trade Paperback version of Alan Dean Foster's game novelization (a $12.95 value according to the box sticker).

Novel

Although there's no movie based on it, there is a book based on the game, also called The Dig, written by science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster.

References

  • Main character Boston Low is voiced by Robert Patrick, who incarnated the evil liquid terminator in the movie Terminator 2. At one point in the game, Boston shows Maggie a photo of lost comrade Brink, and asks her "Have you seen this boy?", paraphrasing the evil terminator's trademark question in that popular movie. Also, when the player looks at his PenUltimate he's gonna say that it's the "T-1000 Model".
  • According to the game's demo, the ship that carries out the Attila mission in the first part of the game is Space Shuttle Atlantis. However this reference was cut from the final game.

Shapes

Take a look at the PenUltimate communicator and you will notice that there is a geometric shape on it. It is what the plates inside Atilla look like when they are put together.

Soundtrack

Even though Michael Land's score for the game was released on CD (albeit in a very low amount), it suffered from the worst 'disease' of all official soundtracks, painfully well known to collectors of film scores - it was cut, and not all the music appearing in the game was included. However, the tracks can be extracted with external utilities. Details can be found in the tips & tricks section.

Title

After finishing the game, you might start to wonder if the game's title is in any way connected to the over-usage of the shovel item in the game (main character digs holes every now and then, and rather often), because there is definitely no dig site to explore (not assuming half-blasted asteroid).

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #3 Top Vaporware Title in Computer Game History

Information also contributed by ATMachine, Boston Low, ClydeFrog, Daniel Albu, Dirk Struan, G J, Jaromir Krol, MAT, Swordmaster and Trixter

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Related Sites +

  • GJ's Dig Site
    Character profiles, images including ads, screenshots, backgrounds, etc, humour.
  • Hints for The Dig
    These won't spoil the game, but will give you just what you need to solve the game. Final solutions are included.
  • ScummVM
    Get "The Dig", as well as many other adventure games, to run on modern systems by using ScummVM, a legal and free program.
  • The Dig - FAQs & Guides
    Several walkthroughs and other files on GameFaqs.com
  • The Dig Museum
    Includes interviews with creators, creation information, and "Ask Yoda" section.
  • The Dig Soundtrack
    Music from the game
  • The Dig Walkthrough
    Start to finish solution for The Dig

Identifiers +

Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by robotriot.

Linux added by click here to win an iPhone9SSSS. Windows added by MAT. Macintosh added by Jason Savage.

Additional contributors: Mickey Gabel, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Apogee IV, G J, CubbyKatz, CaesarZX, Picard, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added November 1st, 1999. Last modified August 25th, 2023.