Shovel Knight Dig has been on our radar since its announcement in 2019—back when games could be revealed and immediately demonstrated at physical gaming expos. That many years ago, Dig was one of a few planned series spinoffs, and its demo at that year’s PAX West show floor filled me with dungeon-digging excitement.
This week, the series’ third formal spinoff finally goes on sale on PC, iOS, and Nintendo Switch, and in great news, Dig is easily the best Shovel Knight offshoot yet. What’s more, it stands out compared to other arcadey, action-focused roguelites, and the result feels like a depth-filled mod for the mobile classic Downwell.
A new pit stop on the randomly generated road
Shovel Knight has reasons to dig with his namesake weapon in search of treasure, secrets, and revenge. If you’re interested in this character-filled story, Dig‘s interactions with beautifully drawn and animated animals are as charming as the plot found in the mainline series’ four campaigns. Or you can mash buttons to skip the dialogue and get to the satisfying digging.
Shovel Knight can dig left, right, and downward, but never upward. If you mash the dig button, he’ll keep going, even if there’s no ground beneath his feet to support his weight—and you’ll need to abuse this clever, Looney Tunes-esque mechanic to survive certain tricky races against time.
Control in this new 2D side-scrolling game resembles the mainline series, as well: Use an action button to swipe your shovel left or right (or downward if you hold down on the D-pad) while your hero lands from jumps and falls with his shovel facing downward, which not only harms vulnerable foes but also makes the Knight bounce upward off most stuff it contacts, except certain ground types. Instead of running left or right to a goal, Shovel Knight now digs downward through randomly generated levels (with a few left and right exceptions, usually found in the game’s wealth of hidden challenges).