Six years into its lifespan, the PSVR is really showing its age. Releases are becoming increasingly infrequent, the hardware is starting to fail (batteries, headsets, viewscreens), and Sony long ago started phasing out support for the original in lieu of the upcoming PSVR2 for the PS5. So it’s always a treat to get to dust of the old VR helmet, remember how to hook up all the required gadgets and camera, and attempt to get the old PSMove controllers to hold enough charge to try out an awesome game like Cave Digger 2: Dig Harder.
When I was offered Cave Digger 2: Dig Harder, I had no idea what I was getting into. I take that back – I did have an idea, but my idea was nowhere near as entertaining as Cave Digger 2 turned out to be. I thought I was going to experience a realistic VR mining simulator, but what I got was a whimsical game that blends elements of Minecraft and Bioshock to deliver an underground exploration slash first person shooter slash puzzler adventure all set in a sweet “dieselpunk” wild-west universe.
The gamer takes the role of a prospector looking to make their fortune digging for riches underground. Clues begin to appear that unveil a mystery surrounding the famed treasure hunter known only a Clayton who explored these caves in times past. Once the player hops (or floats – as they have no legs) onto the subterranean elevator, the adventure is underway. Gamers use their pickaxe, hammer, and TNT to break the rock to uncover various gemstones and precious metals to sell above the surface and help build their business.
As rewarding as the mining is, it does get a bit monotonous – which is why the developers added a bevy of baddies to battle while armed with a trusty sidearm and yes…more TNT. It’s great fun, and the fact that each cave is procedurally generated make the game always feel new even when exploring the same depths multiple times. The game offers numerous chests filled with riches that require Bioshock-like puzzles to access.
The presentation is impressive – with comic-like visuals on par with early Borderlands games. The lighting effects play an essential part in helping the game spot hidden treasure and/or lurking bioluminescent enemies. The script is a bit corny overall, but the drawl of the disembodied narrator (Clayton) and the impressive spaghetti western soundtrack does give a bit of a respite to the constant rock-chipping sound effect.
Cave Digger 2: Dig Harder offers three storyline endings, the ability to purchase and upgrade weapons and shelter, making it a gameplay experience that is much deeper than the typical VR fare. Coupled this all with online co-op for up to four players – in crossplay with other VR platforms even – makes Cave Digger 2 one of the best VR values on the PS4 console.
The game is playable on the PS5 with a free upgrade, but the developer disclaims that some of the PS4 features are not included. As one of those who have not yet picked up a PS5 I can neither confirm nor deny, but I assume that when the PSVR2 hits the shelves the developers will update to add the missing features.
PSVR releases are few and far between these days, so it’s a real treat to have a solid game like Cave Digger 2: Dig Harder show up and make it worth digging out that tote for one more virtual adventure.