The Dig

Moby ID: 354

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 82% (based on 38 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 237 ratings with 22 reviews)

Not sure if I can 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 immerse you as if you were in a cinema. You really feel you are lost in a gorgeous, but strange and possibly hostile alien world. A sense of wonder and grandeur permeates the exotic scenario.

The plot may not be the epitome of sci-fi storytelling, but there is something in the strange tale of a race that mysteriously vanished despite achievements like crystal-powered trams and immortality. Seriously, the game's story does deal with that latter issue - not the Abrahamic afterlife or the Indian reincarnation, but in the plainest sense of endless physical life reminiscent of primitive alchemy or Chinese Daoist searches for elixirs. You can play the game for yourself and discover the rather philosophical and certainly thought-provoking conclusion.

While Full Throttle could not combine cinematic treatment with challenging gameplay, Dig presents the most "hardcore" puzzle system LucasArts ever designed. If tough puzzles is your primary requirement for an adventure game, this one will be an excellent choice. The (in)famous turtle-reassembling puzzle is not alone in the constellation of hair-pulling tasks you'll have to face in this game. Prism-adjusting or critter-catching are just examples; the overall difficulty stems from the open nature of the game and the abundance of abstractly designed, in a certain way really "alien" mechanisms, where success depends on patience and persistence as much as it does on logical thinking and experimentation.

While Full Throttle was too short and too small (in terms of playable, explorable locations), Dig puts you into a large "hub" world that steadily grows as you solve puzzles and advance step-by-step. In fact, the game world itself is designed like a gigantic puzzle, since connecting the light bridges and gaining access to the planet's "inner sanctum" is one of the game's overarching tasks. The architecture of the game is pretty impressive, and at the very least you can feel that it was designed with a lot of thought and care.

The Bad
Ultimately, however, what matters most is whether the game is fun to play or not. Unfortunately - while I'm sure many will disagree - the experience of actually playing Dig is at best strenuous, and at worst tedious and awkwardly sterile.

The truth is that LucasArts were really out of their element in this one. They strove to beat Cyan at their own game, and they even got most of the tools right - but they weren't truly inspired to do that. Dig doesn't feel like a typical LucasArts product because it seems contrary to what its developers stood for. I may be grossly mistaken, but while I was playing the game I felt its creators didn't really want to make it - even though they obviously did a very solid, professional job.

There is no spark in the puzzles. In vain would we try to find here the wit and the elegance that has distinguished LucasArts' works. The few atypical (i.e. logical, observation-oriented) tasks such as for example the lens-retrieval early in the game were actually better than the more mundane inventory-based exercises LucasArts are usually so good at. Worse, those puzzles are often needlessly repetitive. It's okay to use a rod to open the door, but why is it necessary to have five rods to open five doors (and go through the same color- and shape- changing procedure), and a couple of rods which have nothing to do with the doors but are there just to cause more confusion?

One serious problem of Dig is its pacing. At first you feel awe-stricken at the sight of an exotic semi-abandoned alien world. You explore, solve tough puzzles, and rejoice when a new area opens up to you. But the more you play, the more you become entangled in the same type of activities - only the size of the game world grows, while the actual gameplay remains strikingly similar. There is no gradual building up to a climax, no diversion, no change of pace. Full Throttle had tiny linear areas we couldn't get attached to. Dig has a large hub that gets more and more boring as we explore it. Both games failed to capture the spirit of exploration the way other LucasArts' games did.

The difficulty of the puzzles in conjunction with an ever-growing world essentially means that the game largely consists of backtracking. After a while the monotony takes over completely. Throughout nearly the entire game, you'll be running back and forth through a lifeless world, fetching items and tinkering with rather unexciting alien mechanisms. Myst did it before, and frankly, it did it better, since its puzzles were more interesting. It even had a larger scenery variety, and that's saying a lot.

The emptiness of the world and the almost complete lack of characters to interact with would have worked for the introductory part. But you can't tell a compelling sci-fi tale with dead machinery and tiresome crystal-fixing. There must be some encounters, friendly or hostile, some dynamism and drama. Near the end of the game you finally get what you've been craving for - but it's too little and too late.

The Bottom Line
Dig is 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.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2014

A Sci-Fi Adventure Game suffering from an Identity Crisis

The Good
The Dig is a science fiction, point and click, graphic adventure game, which was made when LucasArts was still in the adventure gaming business.

The basic plot of the game is as follows: In the mid-1990s a group of scientists discover that a large asteroid is going to smash into Earth, unless something cool and scientific can be done about it. A team of smart and easy-on-the-eyes men and women are assembled to blow up the asteroid.

Naturally, as a science fiction-themed story by LucasArts, the plot quickly shifts to an alien world with lots of puzzles, mysteries and strange creatures that might just eat you.

I cannot really find fault with the game's plot, the game play mechanics are easy to pick up (especially, if you have played other LucasArts adventure games) and both the game's graphics and music are quite excellent for a 1990s, graphic adventure game.

The Bad
My major complaint with this game is the simple fact that the overall tone of the game seems to be going through something of an identity crisis.

The Dig seems like it wants to be a dark sci-fi game, but (I suspect that) somewhere along the game's development someone made the decision to tone down the darkness in favor of a more family-friendly adventure.

The result is graphic adventure game that is not really made for young children (characters die in some rather tragic ways), but the game also lacks the blood, gore and other dark sci-fi elements that would appeal to older gamers.

Some of the puzzles in the game are also way too difficult for young children (or older, average gamers).

The Bottom Line
The Dig is a well designed graphic adventure game that fans of the gaming genre ought to try out. Its science fiction-themed story is certainly entertaining, if a bit unsure as to what it's intended audience is.

DOS · by ETJB (428) · 2021

Another LucasArts gem of a game

The Good
The atmosphere is just so unique for such an old game! The soundtrack is equally immersive. The gameplay is great.

The Bad
Well, nothing. Some of the puzzles get too hard at times, but that's okay for me.

The Bottom Line
This is such a great game.

DOS · by Lal Fam · 2024

Lucas Arts Digs Deep

The Good
The Dig features impressive graphics and sound that not only put the player inside the alien world, but help to create a real sense of isolation and suspense. The science fiction storyline could easily be made into a feature film, and represents some of the darkest themes seen on a Lucas Arts Adventure game.

The Bad
The Dig has developed its own cottage industry of conspiracy theories due, in part, to the fact that the game was essentially in a "development hell" since 1989 and went through several drastic revisions before being released. For better or for the worse, one of these changes was to tone down the level of violence and gore. Needless to say, "family friendly" and "dark science fiction" do not really go well together. Not only does the game seem unsure of its core identity, several of the puzzles are incredibly difficult to complete. Be prepared for lots of abstract, Myst-inspired puzzles that require a grueling process of trial and error or going online to find the solution.

The Bottom Line
The Dig offers an original graphic adventure storyline with cool graphics, sound and a talented cast of voice actors. The storyline suffers from trying to be both family friendly and dark science fiction. The game play suffers from some abstract and difficult shape manipulation based puzzles that seem more at place on Myst then Monkey Island. If you can get beyond these flaws, then you will find a classic Lucas Arts adventure game.

Windows · by ETJB (428) · 2010

A beautiful game; a breathtaking adventure.

The Good
The Dig was a favorite of mine as a kid, even though I never completed it until recently (on modern hardware with the help of ScummVM). Visually, it is flush with stunning, eerie alien landscapes. The soundscape is nearly as expansive, with good sound effects and a nice ambient soundtrack that accompanies you throughout the game. The voice acting is also consistently well-done, as are the handful of in-game cutscenes.

All of these elements come together to evoke the feeling of being marooned on an alien world. You encounter wondrous and strange alien technology, and learn of its benefits and perils over the course of the game.

The plot is not without its twists and turns, and the truth about the fate of the alien species serves as a cautionary tale of hubris and pushing technology too far.

The end of the game is decent, including a compelling dilemma regarding the fate of the female lead. The ending itself will vary slightly depending upon your decision.

The Bad
I have few complaints about this game. The ending was a bit on the corny side for my taste, as were the aliens (except for "the inventor").

On a few rare occasions, the visual styles of the game clashed, such as a 3D animated monster trying to attack a cartoon-style sprite.

Also, a few of the puzzles struck me as a bit too complex, but one would expect them to be, as they are of alien craft. Namely, the "servo" puzzle was a bit tedious, and I admit to seeking help on it.

However, I did not find the "bones" puzzle to be quite as awful as most people said it was. It's much easier if you're observant enough to locate the nearby fossil, which provides valuable clues as to the shape of the animal.

The Bottom Line
An elegant adventure with a compelling storyline, beautiful graphics (for the time), and a pleasing soundscape that come together to form an immersive experience. Pay no heed to the critics. If you enjoy science fiction at all, or want to feel the thrill of investigating the abandoned world of a lost alien civilization, pick up a copy of The Dig by all means.

DOS · by Halleck (389) · 2005

Under-rated game that never did as well as it should have.

The Good
There's so much to like about this game, I never understand why no one liked it. So being the only soul in the free world who enjoyed it, I feel I need to speak out on it's behalf.

The best aspect of the game I found was the graphics. All the backgrounds are luscious hand-painted pieces that truly show off the alien plane'ts evocative landscapes. A close second behind that is Michael Land's classic Wagnerian score. Very few games before or after "The Dig" have managed to have such a well put together score, and it's a joy to listen to it every time you play.

Spielberg's story can't be beat, and the voice-actors really bring the characters in the story to life. Yes, the game was a bit wordy, but I like this in a game. Overall, I thought this was a great game that never found the audience it deserved.

The Bad
I din't like the fact that it sold so poorly that there's no chance of a sequel to continue the story! Seriously though, I never encountered any bugs in the game, but that's mostly on par with Lucasarts' track record.

The Bottom Line
Go out and look for it in the bargain bins. A game this good shouldn't be forgotten.

DOS · by Digital Arse (9) · 2000

Whoa, I am gonna meet some Extra-terrestrials man

The Good
Interesting graphics. A good blend of hand drawn graphics, FMV-sequences and animation. I must say they still look good and were kind of superior for it's time.

The Bad
It's repetitiveness. most of the time I was spending time going here and there, going back, going back and going back some more. I would like to see some variation here. Too many times I was wasting time unlocking doors and putting pieces back together.

The story is the biggest let down here. Since there is some budget and possibilities I would expect to be impressed with creative aliens but instead of that I was treated to the same old mystery crap, where aliens don't show up until the very last seconds of the game. The story isn't actually that original. There are worlds that look identical to ours, with beaches, blue skies and mountains. There are rats that look like rats, birds that are birds, dogs that are dogs, bats that are bats and even a ginormous spider. On top of that as some sort of final insult that alien leader says: "those creatures haven't evolved yet". Oh dear...

Also there is one part I simply can't get over with, how on earth is it possible to learn (and speak) a complete alien language just by analysing a few samples in a library?

The Bottom Line
The dig: I rather leave this one buried

DOS · by tante totti (14) · 2007

Perhaps the most underrated, misunderstood computer game.

The Good
This game is sheer brilliance. Conceived by Steven Spielberg, he handed the reins over to LucasArts when he realized it would cost an estimated 150 million to make. The acting is superb; the characters may be, at their most basic levels, the classic team of hero, girlfriend, and best friend, the little character touches and voice acting raise them above stencil cut-outs. Combining special effects by Industrial Light & Magic with the exceptional graphics established in The Secret of Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, the visuals are beautiful. A great story, simple point-and-click interface, and easily manageable inventory round out one of LucasArts best, and most underrated, game.

The Bad
The game was rather short. While the average LucasArts graphic adventure takes about 20 hours to finish, this one took about 15. Also, some of the puzzles seem... well, not contrived, but overly complicated. Particularly the puzzle involving the programming of a robot to move a lens in front of a laser, thus turning on the planet's power.

The Bottom Line
Don't listen to the anti-hype. This game is not that horrible. In fact, it's not horrible at all. The only game with a soundtrack so amazing that it was released on CD and is available in record stores as we speak, The Dig is a masterpiece in gaming, and a work of art. But don't take my word for it. Try it for yourself.

DOS · by lechuck13 (296) · 2001

A beautiful, touching game

The Good
Almost everything about The Dig is wonderful. The lovely hand painted backgrounds stand the test of time, the colour cycling animations with the lovely water or alien gulls flying or lightning and clouds in the background..the voice acting was and still is great. I also find it amazing that the voice actor for my favourite Dig character(Dr. Ludger Brink) did several other voices in the game, and I found him to be unrecognizable until I read the credits!

The characters were easy to feel sympathy for and identify with. They are not as stereotypical as some make them out to be. The game is also not quite as serious as some people say, there were lots of little bits of humour everywhere. There were many moments where I nearly fell out of my chair! So I don't think it's lacking in humour at all.

The Bad
The character sprites were terrible but that is to be expected from a game of that time period. The animations for them were very life-like and realistic though. And some of the puzzles were just horridly frustrating(Fortunatly it was only a couple), thank god I bought the strategy guide or I would've given up!

The Bottom Line
It is hard for me to summarize how I feel about this game, because I played it when I was only 8, and it means a lot to me. It influenced me a great deal because I was young, with the beauty and the grand epic quality it had. I still love it.

It was one of the first games I ever played and it will always have a big chunk of my heart. I think I saw the beauty of it because I was a gaming "virgin" and hadn't heard the hype, or waited for years for it to be released. It was fresh and exciting to me and even now, I having played games for years by now, STILL find it wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone.

DOS · by G J (4) · 2001

This game proves that above all, adventure gamers are nothing but prissy bitches.

The Good
The Dig, is above everything else, a good game. It may not be THE adventure, but it's a great one that delivers plenty of puzzle-solving and classic point-and-click goodness. It features a posh b-movie like sci-fi plotline updated to our time's sensibilities, and has truly stellar production values, with first rate voice actors, an incredible soundtrack, and fantastic graphics (I remember hearing somewhere how the pre-rendered stuff was done on silicon graphics workstations).

With a hands down truly interesting story that has save-the-universe elements, suspense a-la Pet Cemetery (he came back... but he wasn't the same! ;)), a great setting (a world that has the key to immortality, yet everyone is dead...), great classic-adventure gameplay, a streamlined interface, a refined inventory system and one of the best "Fangoria" moments in the story of videogames ("Hey dude, my hand is stuck!!! :))") The Dig comes out as yet another great classical adventure.

The Bad
The only problem with The Dig is that it just "isn't good enough" for some people. I mean, look at the criticism that is leveled at this game, not only here on Moby, but take a stroll around the web and check other reviews, they are all the same: No one says this is a bad game, but "ohh, I didn't like it when this character did this or that, or the setting sucks to me, or that puzzle ruined everything" geez, what morons. LucasArts got to where they are because they were a coding house that took chances, like with Loom, the story-driven Outlaws, etc. etc. But what most people don't seem to get is that taking gambles is exactly that, Taking Gambles. They don't try to cash in on the same thing over and over, instead they try to move on and incorporate new stuff to their gallery of games. That means of course, that you have the same amount of chances to love it as to hate it, and wheter you do love them it's just a matter of chance really, not a testament to their genius. Loom for instance was a game that was shorter, easier, and in many ways much more stupid than The Dig, yet it struck a chord with everyone and it is to this day hailed as a masterpiece (and rightly so). The Dig on the other hand, somehow managed to single handedly piss off every "serious" adventure gamer, just because it was original and not Monkey Island XXXVII. I mean, blood in a LucasArts game??? Horror!!! Zounds!!! Be gone thou foul heathen!!!

Look, adventure gamers are always talking about how "serious" their games are, but if you look around the only types of games they condone from LucasArts are comedy-relief ladden or the wacky flat-out laugh-fests they were so fond of making. Nothing wrong with that of course, but when Lucas DARES to make a game that actually takes itself seriously all the shit hits the fan! I had the feeling that the guys at Lucas were aware of this, and threw in the 50's b-movie angle mid-game to ease up on things. What's the answer they get from gamers? Blasphemy!! How dare they try to mix something so serious with stuff so cheesy??? (Nevermind that they were getting the comedy relief they wanted so much, and nevermind the fact that the Indiana Jones adventure games did the exact same thing)...geez. Oh! But what about the puzzles?? Seeing as how the market had evolved, the guys at Lucas decided to throw in some Myst-like color sequencing puzzles and the like. What's the answer they get?? Horrors!! Zounds!!! How dare they taint my beloved point-and-click adventure!!! Oh, and the freaks that love Myst do nothing but scream "There isn't enough of them in the game!! Buuuh!!"

The music is too serious and doesn't fit the game!! There are too few npcs (nevermind the fact that the game takes place on a desert world) and their dialogues are too repetitive!! (like that isn't one of the primordial problems of adventure games) There is too much trial and error!! (like the swordfights on Monkey Island were completely logical affairs, right?), The graphics are too high-rate! Were are my cartoons???, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla...

Want to point out some REAL flaws about The Dig? There's a little bit too much wandering around, which causes the "oooh... were are my plot revelations?? This game is too slow!! I want to have a shocking revelation every 10 seconds!!!" on bitchy gamers, and the fact that there's nothing completely spectacular or absolutely end-all-be-all in it.

The Bottom Line
The Dig is a perfectly well crafted adventure game that just so happens to be "not quite right" for some people, there isn't enough of this, or that I don't like, or that color is all wrong, or that puzzle was too frustrating, AAHH! Shut the hell up!!! If you got out of your self-righteus shells for a minute and tried the game without any prejudices you would be rewarded with an absolutely solid adventure game deserving of nothing but praises. This game belongs to the time when LucasArts actually took chances with it's games, and it shows. Of course, the Lucas of today does nothing but churn out Star Wars games and sequels to Monkey Island, and the average adventure gamer is completely satysfied with that. For as "cutting edge" and "serious" as they label themselves, they can't take something that even remotely deviates from what they are used to, to those people I have only something to say: Take your unhappy, never-satisfied arses out of here and SHOOT YOURSELVES. And do try not to make us all look bad in the process, 'kay?

DOS · by Zovni (10503) · 2002

lahum stchiadnak tresto luum

The Good
LucasArts was considered the king of adventure games in the nineties, and when they were able to create superb adventure games like The Dig, I can see why. The Dig was going to start off as a fantasy sci-fi movie, but for some reason, this was dropped in favor of an adventure game. Three people, Boston Low, Maggie Robbins, and Ludger Brink, have been asked to go up to the "Attila" asteroid which is on a collision course with Earth, and set explosives off its surface to make it change course. During their mission, they also have to report to their bosses, Ken Borden and Cora Miles, that the explosives are set and that they are returning to HQ. Low, Robbins, and Brink all end up being stranded on an alien planet. When Low asks Bordon for help, he finds out that he is out of range. The three of them have to make do by exploring this planet fully in order to complete their priority task: find a way home.

You control Boston, who happens to be the leader of the expedition, with both Brink and Robbins following you to see what you are doing and make sure that you are doing nothing wrong. But eventually, both of your fellow characters go their own separate ways, and it is up to you to explore the planet fully, as well as performing actions that make parts of its islands functional. And like any group of people should do when they decide to split, you can use your little PenUltimate’ walkie-talkie to contact them about your discoveries, and they may either engage in conversation or help you further based on what they find out on their own.

Don't expect the nine actions used in Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road, with names like PICK UP, TALK TO, and LOOK AT, to be present here. Instead, you control a mouse cursor which can be used to walk around, as well as speaking to people and pushing/pulling objects and manipulating them. You also have an inventory icon, which you can use to access your inventory, with forty spaces used to store objects that you pick up along the way. This interface approach, similar to Full Throttle before it, makes the screen less cluttered and makes extra space for more graphics, rather than having them all squishy like Lucas's earlier adventure games. Ages ago, I saw an article about The Dig with a screenshot that included the nine-action interface, and it looked rather good. Honestly, I have no idea why Lucas decided to scrapped this in the end.

Sometimes an area is highlighted when you drag your mouse over it, meaning that you can walk to yet another scene in the game. When you click the mouse button, Low will walk there. Click it again, and you will immediately arrive there. You don't have to wait for Low to arrive there. This is a nifty feature that is not present in other adventure games.

When you strike up a conversation with someone that you come across, you will see the conversation bar which lists a series of icons, which when clicked, strike up conversations about nothing or about things that you have already discovered earlier. You can keep clicking on the same icon to get different conversations until the icon is in its "pressed down" state, meaning that the last conversation is repeated when you click the icon in this state. The graphics used for these icons are a lot more colorful than the icons used in Sam & Max

Speaking of graphics, nearly all the backgrounds used for each scene are the best that I have ever seen in a LucasArts adventure game, starting from the surface of the planet and ending with its beaches. Sometimes, it makes me wish that I was on the planet where I can do whatever I like, whenever I like, and however I like, without any dangerous objects that I would be able to pick up and manipulate.

The games uses a lot of FMV sequences, and if you look in the /DIG subdirectory on the CD, you'll find that most of them are .SAN files, that you cannot open. Occasionally, you will watch these when you perform specific actions like activating a machine or trying to communicate with an alien creature. Some of these sequences are quite interesting, and sometimes reflect the personality change of each of your colleague. For example, in some FMV sequences, the change in Brink's behavior once the lethal life crystals, found around the planet, control him is portrayed, and these are quite interesting to watch.

The music in The Dig reflects that found in many fantasy sci-fi movies, and the sound effects are much better than those used in many games that I have played long before this one. The sound effects in the game are ambient and are much more realistic. An example includes the walking sounds that can be heard while Low walks around the nexus.

The voice acting is top-notch. Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The X-Files) provides the voice of Boston Low, your average space guy who tries to be cool toward several species that he encounters. Low is the main character who says those sort of things that the same characters in other movies talk like. The voices for Brink and Robbins are also good, with Robbins playing the innocent gal who spends a lot of time doing research, and Brink, the german professor who becomes more aggressive after those life crystals resurrected him as a clone, and doesn't even give a damn about his fellow members.

The Bad
Adventure gamers who brought The Dig, and expect it to be free of puzzles will be disappointed, as there are actually many puzzles that you have to solve in order to open some kind of door or activate a piece of machinery, and these puzzles are quite hard. I can remember trying to repair a broken light bridge for ages. And earlier, I had trouble reconstructing a creature by putting all its bones together. I thought that I did it right, but the game doesn't tell you that the task had been accomplished.

The Bottom Line
It looks like LucasArts went to a great deal at making this amazing adventure game. This is demonstrated by the great story that is carried throughout the game. The graphics are superb graphics and the sounds are excellent.

Rating: ****½

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2005


The Good
This came out at an odd time for Lucasarts - after 'The Secret of Monkey Island 2' had been criticised for being too easy, they released this and 'Full Throttle', two solid adventures that, whilst pleasant enough, seemed to add little to the genre, and were not particularly hard. 'The Dig' is less cartoony and more 'serious' than their other games - it's a pulpy sci-fi adventure with the voice of Robert Patrick, the evil Terminator from 'Terminator 2'. It scores highly in terms of presentation - the animated intro is highly professional, and there's a constant, impressive score ('Wagnerian' according to the box) too.

The Bad
The puzzles veer from being utterly, utterly obscure (a sequence in which you manipulate a hovering drone in order to reactivate a power plant), to dull 'try every object with every other object' fests. Furthermore, what appeared to be a bug in my version of the the game rendered it unfinishable. Nonetheless, it's typically competent, and even when it's being dull there's the music to listen to.

The Bottom Line
Decent, solid adventure that won't tax you for more than a few days. With Robert Patrick!

DOS · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2000

Different; and neither a masterpiece nor a bad game.

The Good
Jeez...this one is controversial isn't it? Take a look at the reviews all over the net: opinion is pretty heavily divided. It wouldn't be though, if it was made by a developing company other than Lucasarts. The public, having lapped up the 'Monkey Islands' and 'Sam & Max' like starving puppies, expected more of the same with this title. And why shouldn't they? This is what happens when you get typecasted. Sad, really.

'The Dig' is nothing like 'Sam & Max'; the aforementioned, highly revered, adventure Sean Clark also worked on, and it's to his credit that he's created something so different. The game starts brilliantly: the intro movie is good and the player's first challenge is an exciting one. It shows that this was originally intended to be a film - (it's a common rule in screen writing that the first 10 minutes of the script have to hook the audience. Often they are constructed as a small 10 minute vignette, as is the case here.) Events progress logically up until you've been on the alien planet for a bit, then it starts to go downhill. Typically, the plot starts to disappear until nearer the end. But hey - at least now you're gripped. Sort of.

Character development is very good, and I'm a sucker for this type of thing, so I was most impressed. Especially since Sam & Max doesn't have any. All 3 characters grow and change by the end, furthering the feel that you're playing an epic. The score is also suitably "Wagnerian", as it claims to be, and the dialogue is good, if occasionally overblown.

Graphically, 'The Dig' is very polished. Although it does suffer from being in the period of graphical development where environments and vehicles can be animated in 3D polygonal glory, but not humans or creatures. This occasionally makes the characters look rough and flat against the backgrounds. Although, yeah, wow Ed, big deal.

The 'serious' plot, which is only really developed at the end, is actually quite interesting too.

The Bad
Adventure gamers come under a lot of stick for being notoriously stifling to the creativity of developers. That's one way of putting it. Another is that they know exactly what they want and yet the developers don't seem to share their vision. I wouldn't call myself a hardcore gamer at all, but I've often discussed the adventure sequels that Lucasarts have teased us with: Full Throttle 2, Sam & Max 2, and the next Monkey Island. We always agree on what we feel are highly important aspects; it is vital, for instance, that a sequel to Full Throttle would attempt to keep that same darkness, that same ugly brutality, that made the original so vivid. It seems obvious. Screenshots of the sequel before it was canned suggest this wasn't even taken into account.

It is also obvious that 'Myst'-style puzzles in 'The Dig' would be unwanted. The legions of people who bought Myst liked the pretty pictures the most, not the puzzles, which hark back to games like 'The Fool's Errand'. Whilst I think back fondly to the time when Lucasarts were willing to go out on a whim and try something different, it doesn't mean all their decisions have to have been good ones. Messing with polygons is alright for a bit, but it soon gets boring.

Can't blame them too much for that though, and to be honest, there isn't too much of that in the game. They deserve to hang for that infamous turtle skeleton puzzle however. I stared at a screenshot of the solution for nearly a whole hour, convinced my version had a bug which wasn't letting my complete it, before changing one imperceptible thing and then it finally worked. C'mon guys, you didn't give us this type of thing in 'Loom' and that was 6 years ago, why give us it now?

Going back to what I said about the game going downhill, the problem is that after you've been on the planet for a while, you'll end up at a central 'hub' and the other characters will suddenly go off and leave you on your own. All of a sudden, you don't have a clue what you're doing. There are some doors which are shut, maybe you can open them, somehow. There is a machine with some buttons, you can press them but they don't seem to do anything. Warren Spector, creator of one of the finest games ever, 'Deus Ex', once said in an interview how desperate he was to take players into worlds they can recognise. Players' creative imaginations are stirred in a game when they see a telephone ("Can I make a phone call"?) but not when they see an alien artifact. Whilst this game deserves no blame for being set on an alien planet, abandoning the player in such a fashion is a very foolish move when this is taken into account. Having few NPCs to interact with doesn't help either.

The situations in 'The Dig' are not humorous, and neither are the characters particularly. Not that this is a bad thing at all, but Lucasarts in the past have rightly concluded that humour equals staying power in adventures. Getting past that %#$*@! puzzle deserves a reward, and a funny sequence does the job perfectly. Ron Gilbert positioned 'rewards' like these perfectly in the first 2 Monkey Islands, and they were often genuinly funny to boot. 'The Dig' doesn't have many of these - your hard work usually just opens up a new area, which is usually empty. This isolation and the lack of cutscenes begins to frustrate after a while. It gets better near the end though.

A personal gripe is that the whole game is spent in one place. I hate it when I find central hubs in adventures - you walk into a place with loads of doors and you just know you're going to spend the rest of the game walking through them. 'Grim Fandango' and 'Full Throttle' were two of the best when it came to this: the latter had you riding all over the country, so you were never in one place for too long. And in Grim, you were journeying all over the world. You never knew where you were going to be next, but you knew it would be completely different and exciting. The first time I saw the transition from the end of Year 1, where you were in a port-side ghost town, to Year 2, where the town had been transformed into something resembling Monte Carlo or Vegas, was the best moment I've ever had with an adventure game. You won't get that in 'The Dig', you're stuck with these rocks and artifacts and you know you ain't leaving any time soon.

I like the ending, but it's implausable.

The Bottom Line
Not a typical Lucasarts adventure, but still highly polished and well worth playing. It resembles 'Myst' not just in the puzzles but also in the sense of isolation, but it's an infinitly better game. You should still buy it; all Lucasarts' adventures are worth buying (so far, and since 'Loom' at least).

You won't "feel at home" with the adventure, but why should you? You're on an alien planet.

DOS · by Shazbut (163) · 2004

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

LucasArts...You couldn't ask for more!

The Good
Like any other LucasArts game, The Dig has a great story line, great puzzles, great animations, and great humour. It never once died on me, but i admit i had to refer to the walkthrough once or twice to crack some of those puzzles, which made me realise how much of an idiot i was, because they were so straight-forward when you gave it some thought.

The Bad
This game was perfect, the puzzles may have been a little bit out there for me, and sci-fi isn't exactly by favourite genre, but i have to admit nothing was really bad about it.

The Bottom Line
You are undertaking a mission to blow up a huge asteroid/comet thing, that's about hit earth. What you don't realise is that the asteroid is actually an alien ship, that's taking you to it's home planet. On the planet you have to find out the usuals, why you're there, who took you there, what lives there, and the list goes on. There's a great surprise ending, and i was very fulfilled when i completed this game.

DOS · by Hilary Richardson (12) · 2003

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

So so

The Good
This game has some interesting and not so interesting but nice qualities. I liked the cool cinematic sequences and the sort of Spielberesque movie music. The story manages to be intriguing and the atmosphere also works for me. The puzzles are a little atypical but I'd say they were difficult enough and kind of refreshing. The tone of the game is between dramatic and facetious, something that I thought was well handled (I did laugh, I did smile, and I was surprised at the level of cynicism in the game). The voice acting is competent.

The Bad
I think it lacks something. It lacks more adventure gaming. The inventory possibilities were not so abundant and some puzzles didn't make any damn sense and were silly too.

I also noticed plot holes in the story (like how the first ghost managed to give the team the crystal rod if the ghosts supposedly can't cause anything in Spacetime 4 but little energy disturbances?). The game ends too abruptly and the happy ending was cheap.

The inflated music turns monotonous eventually.

The Bottom Line
An atypical and sort of interesting Lucasarts adventure game.

DOS · by Czar Husk Qi (27) · 2007

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.


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

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.

DOS · by doo (4) · 2007

A demo's worth a thousand words, it's cheaper too.

The Good
When I played the demo to this game my jaw dropped upon the ground as the game opened to the harsh realization of the shuttle crew's desertion upon an unknown planet in an another galaxy. I was compelled to continue exploring the area, clicking on anything that moved, learning about how the bizzaire situation was beginning to take a toll on the crew until all the suspense lead up to the death of a crew member. I was into the game so much I had to continue, and the next week I purchased the full version game. I enjoyed the game's dated sci-fi storyline and much like the demo, the opening scene of the game containing the press conference then the eventual exploration of the asteriod, Atilla, kept me glued to the monitor as if I was watching a classic sci-fi movie on cable. The music and artwork are fantastic (considering the times) as it was the first time I saw good 3D rendered graphics on the PC which were very compatible with the musical score to bring out the emotion of the storyline and highlight the vast unknown of space.

The Bad
I'm afraid however once I passed the point in which my fellow crew member died from falling into a crevice the game began to get very boring as the music dragged on annoyingly and I had no idea on where to go as the puzzles were very annoying and absurd. Some puzzles were extremely stupid like the repairing of a magnifying glass in some orgy of laser that kept the planet working and sometimes the only way to advance in the game is to walk back to a place which is on the other side on the planet and very irritating. This had potential to be a great game but instead was a disappointment, I suggest LucasArts should have taken the budget from this game and made Full Throttle a bit longer. I heard Steven Spilberg orignally wanted this to concept to be a movie but it would have been to long and expensive... I reckon "The Dig: The Movie" would have taken a big nose dive. Maybe next time I'll read a review then make assumptions from an official demo.

The Bottom Line
Play the demo to this game and leave it at that.

DOS · by JPBLO (5) · 2000

Nice storyline and setting, but not worth the frustration from the puzzles.

The Good
This was a pretty good game, if for no other reason than the story and the setting. And while it had its humorous moments, it was not nearly as silly as other Lucasarts games.

The graphics weren't spectacular, but were nice for a game of its time. It used the cartoonish animation style that Lucasarts had been using in its other games, but it was a bit more "realistic".

The voice acting and music was superb, in my opinion.

Also, there were two endings to this game - both were a success, but one is "good" and "not so good", depending on your actions in the final scene.

The Bad
Some of the puzzles were insane; I think everyone's least favorite must be the turtle skeleton puzzle. On the plus side, it was a bit amusing when you would reassemble the turtle in almost the right order ... the first time. The next five or ten times, it isn't so funny.

The inventory puzzles were just as bad; I swear, if I hear "I can't use these things together" one more time...

The Bottom Line
A fun story, up until you get about halfway through it, and hit some of the more frustrating puzzles. At that point, you can probably guess how the game would end.

DOS · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2001

Waste of time.

The Good
The art design, while not breathtaking, was actually quite good. The early segments of the game set up some suspense and hinted at a great game ahead.

The Bad
While the early portion of the game set things up well (and "killed" off one of the most annoying characters) the middle and final segments of the game were a complete letdown. With a plot that seemed to have been hacked out of mediocre pulp SF films of the mid-50's, ridiculous dialogue, and characters that seemed to have been stereotyped from the same era as the plot. Oh, and the annoying character comes back as some sort of Undead Bavarian Lingust From Hell.

The puzzles were only average, and some of them were patently absurd and/or obtuse in the extreme. The turtle-thing skeleton puzzle comes to mind.

And I just wonder why so many writers and art directors seem to think that -any- dead civilization would have built with stone in a vaguely Egyptian style, regardless of technical advances. Like they were building their cities with prior knowledge that one day they would vanish and so they should design everything to look sufficiently "ruined". Sure, whatever.

The Bottom Line
If you really like adventure games of the SCUMM variety you might want to check it out. It's not so much a bad game, as a game that isn't a fraction of what it could have been. The story would have been excusable 50 years ago, but today it is just trite and insulting.

Well, ok, it is pretty bad.

DOS · by Patrick Mills (36) · 2000

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Alsy, Parf, Zeppin, Jeanne, qalle, Wizo, Big John WV, Tim Janssen, ryanbus84, Scaryfun, Alaedrain, Riemann80, mo ,, Utritum, BurningStickMan, jean-louis, Víctor Martínez, Sun King, Patrick Bregger, PolloDiablo, Robert DeMeijer, deepcut, Mr Creosote, nyccrg, Kabushi.