Game: The Dig
Released: November 1995
Publisher: Lucas Arts
I went into The Dig only knowing a small portion of the story. What I expected was a point and click adventure about 3 astronauts saving the world from an asteroid. Let’s be honest here- I was really looking forward to making a lot of Armageddon jokes and doing my best to explain why Deep Impact is the better movie. Hint: It’s because the Earth gets its ass handed to it.
So, that’s what I expected. But what I got was a great Sci-Fi adventure. And why wouldn’t it be amazing? The plot is from an idea developed by Steven Spielberg, and the game’s dialogue was written by pre-“gays don’t have the right to marry” Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game). The Dig starts with Commander Boston Low and his crew planting nukes on the asteroid known as Attila. In pretty short order, the player finds themselves in the middle of a mystery, as it is discovered that the Asteroid is actually an ancient space ship. You and your crew, now stranded on the ship, are sent across time and space to a mysterious planet. Kind of like catching one of those casino buses to Indiana.
The player eventually discovers that the planet was once inhabited by a race of aliens that have mastered trans-dimensional travel, and are now trapped in a different reality. In order to get home, you and your crew must get the island you’re on powered up, and bring the planet’s former inhabitants home.
The graphics have that wonderful Lucas Arts point and click aesthetic and the CG cut-scenes look really good for 1995. But where the game really shines is the soundtrack. Every section of the island is delightfully moody, atmospheric, and something genuinely reminiscent of a Hollywood motion picture.
There were a few sticking points for me though. The first is just how much backtracking you do in the game. Due to the story, all of the action takes place in an enclosed environment (unlike Fate of Atlantis which has different exotic locations) so you’re going to visit the same 5 locations many, many times. The second issue for me were a few of the puzzles. It’s a point and click, so you know what you’re in for- but more than once I found myself having to search pixel by pixel for something that simply blended into the background. These moments are very few and far between, and the overall story is incredibly rewarding, and have a more somber tone than the other Lucas Arts adventure games. It’s available on Steam, and you owe it to yourself to check it out if you’re a fan of sci-fi… unlike Armageddon.