The Dig

a game by LucasArts
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 3 reviews, 7 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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Avery Strange Feeling Game Over me while I was playing the demo version of The Dig. It took me a while to figure it out, but finally I realised what it was: I'd completely forgotten what it was like to play a real adventure game. I've become so used to playing unspeakably crap interactive movies that the prospect of something which actually required me to think was very disorientating indeed.

I've since decided that if I come across one more game that uses lots of pretty fmv to try and impress me yet fails to deliver the goods in the gameplay department, I shall phone the software house responsible and point it in the direction of the LucasArts team, who will hopefully give the culprits a good talking to and, perhaps, teach them a lesson or two about the ancient art of creating interesting, amusing and playable adventure games. The actual demo version of The Dig is not very extensive, with only a few locations to wander around and a couple of puzzles to solve; however, even in the short time it took me to work my way through it I was hooked and got straight on the phone to Virgin demanding to know when the finished version would be ready. This game oozes atmosphere from every pixel, with excellent voice-overs, colourful graphics and the promise of the kind of highly addictive gameplay we've come to expect from the ridiculously talented chaps and chapesses at LucasArts.

Asteroids ahoy

The plot revolves around three characters: your alter ego Commander Boston Low, a NASA veteran in command of geologist Ludger Brink and journalist Maggie Robbins. Their original mission is to blast an asteroid from an unstable orbit around Earth into a stable one. But surprise surprise, things don't quite work out as planned. The asteroid transforms into an alien spaceship and the team are transported to a strange and seemingly abandoned planet. Upon exploring their dangerous new environment, they discover they are not alone. Everywhere they turn they find evidence of an alien species, which has apparently discovered the secret of immortality and now exists in a ghost-like state. The aliens desperately want something from the unlucky trio, and the only way to get back to Earth is to give it to them. Your objective in the game is to discover what the aliens want from you, make sure they get it, and hopefully get safely back to Earth.

Looks familiar

In terms of look and feel The Dig is very close to the classic Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis adventure game. Because of this, some people may find the graphics a little dated (pretentious wankers may start whinging about the fact that the game doesn't have digitised characters and lots of crap fmv clips), but as far as I'm concerned, it's gameplay that matters and The Dig looks like it will be positively overflowing with the stuff. A simple and intuitive interface gives you easy access to your inventory at all times and manipulating objects is an absolute doddle. A nice new feature is the ability to get to locations very quickly just by doubleclicking your mouse, as opposed to having to wait impatiently while your characters walk there. Generally, the whole game feels fairly similar to the original Indy game which, as far as I'm concerned, is no bad thing.

However, I don't want to give you the impression that the presentation is lacking in any way. LucasArts combined its technologies with Industrial Light and Magic artists to create several special effects for the game; these are used to jazz up the visuals for asteroids, planets and alien ships. As well as that, morphing techniques, lens flares, prism effects and warping star fields have been employed to make the game visually impressive.

Famous person alert

The incredibly successful combination of the considerable talents of LucasArts and the extraordinary imagination of Steven Spielberg has resulted in a very atmospheric game indeed. Spielberg particularly wanted to capture the alien feel of Forbidden Planet and the humanity of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. LucasArts was excited by this idea but its main priority was to produce something very playable.

This was confirmed by Sean Clark, the games project leader: "It's been an incredible experience to take an idea from Steven and then craft a game of this magnitude around it. Since Steven is an avid gamer, my team and I made story and gameplay our top priorities".

LucasArts claims The Dig is even bigger than its Indy adventure, which makes it its largest project to date by far. From my brief encounter with it I can honestly say that it looks as if adventure fans will finally have something to shout about, after having been inundated with boring interactive movie thingies. We'll be bringing you a full review in the next issue of PC, but in the meantime, you can have a look at it yourself by installing the demo from this month's cover cd.

Simply the best

LucasArts has more or less cornered the PC adventure game market. Its first big game was The Secret Of Monkey Island which, along with its sequel, can still hold its own against todays' graphically superior adventures simply because it contains side-splittingly funny humour and a hilarious plot. Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis is the only game I can think of that managed to combine adventure and arcade game elements and get away with it. Day Of The Tentacle, Sam And Max and, more recently, Full Throttle proved that no one can match LucasArts' skill at creating adventure games. The good news is that most of these products are now available on Virgin's budget label, so if you've missed any of them you can go out and buy them at bargain prices.

Download The Dig

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Bit of a weird one this. This isn't our usual "give it a bit of a kicking after we've finished it" routine, it's more of a "hmm... I don't think that some of its finer qualities came across immediately". Yes, we thought that some of the graphics were a bit dated and yes, we probably did expect a bit more, bearing in mind a) its pedigree and b) the time it took to produce the bloody thing. What we really didn't dwell on enough was the atmosphere -and that's because you need to live with it for a whole month before it all sinks in.

When we reviewed it, we did mention that the story and the characterisation were both rather special, but now that we've played it to death we have to say that it does possess the same qualities as both Full Throttle and Indy in the way that it sucks you in. Okay, it doesn't grab you by the scrote straightaway, but once you've absorbed some of the finer elements you do get to genuinely like (or hate, which -let's face it - is just as important) the characters involved. On top of this the script is absolutely fantastic, despite all of the fuss.

I think we can pretty much safely say that The Dig is proof that scripting is just as important in games as it is in movies. If you love adventure games, this is yet another fine example of just how much better than everyone else LucasArts actually is.

On the shuttle

Use the pen ultimate to talk to Miles, then click on the flying pig. Click on the pig again to open it up, then take everything out of it. Click on space. Go to quadrant 2 and use the digger with the target surface.

Use the explosive unit alpha with the dirt, then use the arming key with the explosive unit alpha. Click on space and go to quadrant 3. Use the shovel with the boulder. Use the explosive unit beta with the surface. Use the arming key with the explosive unit beta. Click on space. Go to the shuttle. Use the pen ultimate to talk to Ken Borden about explosives, then return to the asteroid.

The asteroid

Click on the metallic plate, then use the digger on all four odd projections. Click on all four metallic plates. Now click on the dark tunnel. Click on the pedestal. Get all four plates. Click on the square indentation. Use all four plates on the square.

On the planet

Go to the clearing, then to the wreck. Click on the wreck, open the chest and get the device. Pull the hanging wire. Get the wire and the engraved rod. Now return to the clearing and go to the grave at the top of the screen. Get the tusk and use the shovel on the grave. Pick up the jaw bone. Go to the clearing. Go to the right of the screen (the dirt ramp). Use the device. Use the shovel with the small mound. Get the bracelet. Move to the dais. Use the shovel with the small hole. It's at this point that Brinks falls to his death.

Nexus

Get the plate from the floor then move right to find the purple engraved rod; once you've got it, examine it. No doors can be opened yet, as the power has to be turned on first. Move down the ramp (at the bottom of the screen, near the dark tunnel). Click on the edge. Look at the unattached lens. Click again on the edge to change the view, then click on the control panel. There are seven buttons to control a robot: top white is backspace, bottom white is clear.

In order to get the lens you have to use the robot: select purple four times, yellow twice and red once. Exit the control panel, leaving it lit and click on the triangular button. Watch the video. Click on the control panel again, and then push bottom white to clear it. To restore power and open a door you will need to select purple five times, blue four times and red once.

Exit the control panel, but leave it lit. Click on the triangular button. Take the blue crystal and return to Nexus. Use the code of the purple rod to open the door to the left of the dark tunnel. Go through the open door and click on the tram call. Enter the tram and travel to the museum spire.

Museum spire

Attempt to open the weakened door. Go outside, in an upwards direction. Create the light bridge as follows: click on the strange device. Click and hold down the switch. If necessary, move the lens.

Use the light bridge, then look at the crystal. Go back to the museum spire. Enter the museum and get the tablet. Get the glowing crystals. Click on all the displays to see the videos. Get the red engraved rod. Enter the door to the library through the one to the left. Talk with Maggie Robbins about everything and use the tram to return to Nexus.

Nexus

Use the tusk on the panel which is next to the sparking cable. Use the wire on the open panel: when you've done that, use the wire with the sparks.

Use the glowing crystals on Brinks' body. Use the museum tram. Click on the weakened door, get the canister and then go outside. Look at the fossil. Go to the water; Brinks will now run off. Click on the loose bones and arrange them to look like the fossil (you can use the right-hand mouse button to rotate them). Now use the canister with the dead creature, followed by the glowing crystals. Once the monster is dead, enter the water. Go into the chamber and get the plate. Get the orange engraved rod. Take the tram back to Nexus.

Planetarium spire

Open the door located to the right of the dark passage using the orange rod code. Now use the tram call to go to the planetarium spire. Go outside, then upwards. Time your next move so that the water will carry you to the far side. Use the shovel with the boulder. Make the light bridge (click the lens twice). Click on the plateau. Use the shovel on the cave closest to the clearing. Get the dowel, cover and ribcage. Use the dowel with the hole in the wood frame circle. Get the pole and use it with the dowel. Use the ribcage with the hook. Get the rod and use it with the cage. Now you've got to catch the critter - you can achieve this by clicking on the holes, which will make it move between the wheels. You can now cross over to the left of the screen by walking along the front of it. Now return right, behind the creature, to make it run forward into the trap. Use the bracelet with the critter and then click on the trap to free it. Retrieve the rod and the ribcage. Enter the cave and stand next to the bowl. Use the device. Use the shovel with the tracker spot. Now get the machine part. Leave the cave and go to the clearing, then go across the waterfall bridge to the crevice and get the blue rod. Return to Nexus.

Nexus

Enter the dark tunnel and watch the video clip. Go left. Click on the button and enter the airlock. Push the button twice. Go through the door and click on the glowing panel. One of the crystals is black - click on it. Use the blue rod with the hole, then click on the black crystal again. Click and drag on each sliding crystal until the original black one is as white as the others. (There's a certain point when dragging each of the sliding crystals when the black crystal is brightest.) Return to Nexus.

Go to the plateau. Use the shovel with the stone plate. Enter the hole to the tomb. Use the blue crystal with the hole. Move to the bottom of the screen, stopping on the two markings. Use the rod with the loose stone, then leave the tomb. Click on the dirt. Click on the path. Create the light bridge and use it to go to the critter area. Go to the plateau.

Use the machine part, followed by the cover, with the panel. Now click on the panel, then go through the door. Get the green rod, plate and twin sceptres.

Use the gold sceptre with the faint light; now use the gold sceptre to move the planet to the two o'clock position. Use the silver sceptre to move the small moon to a seven o'clock position around the planet - the aim is to form a straight line from the planet through the small moon to the large moon. Push the button to open the door, and once again return to Nexus. Open the door next to the sparking cable using the green rod code. Enter the open door and push the tram call. Go to the map spire. Enter the opening at the top of the screen. Click on the strange field. Exit. Enter the cavern. Enter the pit to reach the map room. Click on the panel and use the red rod combination. Watch the scene of the hidden room. Exit. Leave the map room through the opening. Attempt to make the light bridge work, although it's broken. Open the panel, and click on it. Trial and error will eventually switch the light to the prism between the red and the blue - you will get a message when it's correct. You will also have to adjust the lens a few times before the light bridge will finally form. Use the light bridge to go to the tomb.

The tomb

Click on the statue, then click twice on the crypt to ride it down to the cavern below. Go left and click on the door. Use the glowing crystals on the broken bones to create a second dog. Use the yellow engraved rod with the slot. Enter the door. Click on the pyramid. Use the yellow engraved rod on the panel. Use the glowing crystals on the dead alien and try to talk to it. Exit the tomb. Click on the path. Move to the cave interior and then the plateau. Talk to Brinks. Go to the cavern and use the flashlight on the bat creatures in there. Return to the platform and quickly get the crystals before Brinks returns.

Go to the monster's nest, via the map room and pit, and then go to the left of the door. Now walk right to the grate and talk to Brinks. After he has distracted the monster, go through the right door. Move to the top of the waterfall and push the rock to block the stream. Return to the nest. Talk firstly to Brinks about the grate, and then to Maggie.

Go to the beach near the map spire tram and look at the strange field.

Use the tablet with Maggie. Enter the island opening. Now get the plate and go directly to the cavern. Receive a message from Brinks.

Go to the planetarium spire, then to the crevice, and use the jaw bone on Brink. You will now be automatically returned to the Nexus.

Nexus again

Use the plates on the alcove. Enter the door and use the tram call. Enter the door and look at the console. Look at the gap. Exit console view. Walk up the ramp to the top of the screen. Look at the controls and the alien device. Go outside, upwards. Talk to Maggie about the alien device. Go left and click on the nest. Make the light bridge work. Return to the alien's pyramid and talk to the dead alien again. (If you need a glowing crystal make sure you pick one up beforehand.) Talk about everything until each icon 'greys' out. Get the creature's engraving. Go to the map room. Use the creator's engraving with the panel (like the rods). Go to the beach near the waterfall (near the nest).

Get the eye part. Go to the cathedral spire, then to the machine room (the one with the console). Go to the tomb spire. Go to the platform where Brinks is, and use the eye part first on Brinks, then with the slot in the relic. Retrieve the eye part. Use the eye part with the slot in the relic again. Get the eye part and the crystals. Go to the cathedral spire. Click on the console. Use the glowing crystals with the empty slots. Use the eye part with the gap.

Talk to Maggie - but be prepared to shed a few tears because this is the last conversation you'll have with her, as at this moment she will be killed.

Go to the light bridge and attempt to use it. Kill the beast by turning the light bridge off. Now turn it back on and use it. Click on the eye, then the portal.

That's it! Now you can sit back and watch the sugary ending!

The Dig is an epic science-fiction adventure inspired by the mastermind of moviemaking, Steven Spielberg. If you've enjoyed the previous adventures from LucasArts, such as Full Throttle and Sam and Max, you'll feel right at home with this mysterious journey that will take you light-years away to a distant planet. The finishing touches are still being added to the title, but from what has been seen so far, this promises to be one of LucasArts' best titles yet. The game plays very much like their last adventure (Full Throttle), with the exception of the interface being pulled up by a transparent subscreen for use with items that you will collect throughout the game. I Besides the incredible story line, which is usually offered by LucasArts titles, The Dig goes one step further by including two other characters in the adventure.

This way, you can carry on conversations and ask advice from the other people in your party. With Industrial Light & Magic helping out on the special effects for the game, The Dig looks to be one of the best games this year.

This one-player adventure starts with you in the role of a space shuttle commander sent to realign the orbit of a wandering asteroid. After an accident with the asteroid, you and your crew - a reporter and a geologist - end up on an unknown planet strewn with the remains of an extinct civilization. Piecing together the story of that planet is your only way home.

Eerie, alien graphics support the intriguing story line, and the game's packed with digital audio dialogue. With creative contributions from Steven Spielberg and top sci-fi novelist Orson Scott Card, The Dig has all the right credentials to score big on the PC.

Steven Spielberg's behind this deep-space adventure about a team of explorers who are stranded on an alien planet. You must lead the team as they explore this strange new world and search for a way to escape. LucasArts and Industrial Light & Magic combined efforts to create unusual special effects for The Dig, and a stellar score rounds out the soundtrack.

The Lucas/Spielberg generation (i.e., everyone on the planet under the age of 30) is gonna be stoked with this latest piece of work from LucasArts, the same people who, in the last year alone, have given us Dark Forces, Full Throttle and Rebel Assault II.

The Dig--"based on a concept by Steven Spielberg", as the hype puts it--puts you in the not inconsiderable moonboots of NASA veteran Boston Low (a breathtakingly stupid name) who must land a team of geologists on a rogue asteroid that's been nuked to a standstill in space, thereby halting its passage towards Earth. Our boy Boston, in the company of geologist Ludger Brink (boy, these guys could kick ass at the Stupid-Name Olympics) and journo Maggie Robbins, then proceeds to examine the Asteroid and the three of them are cast into an adventure that takes them (and you) to the nethermost outskirts of the universe, to a hostile and desolate planet. Your task is to make sure that you and your companions can somehow get home safely.To do that, you're going to have to solve dozens upon dozens of puzzles and visit in excess of 200 locations and try to uncover the fate of the planets previous occupants, a highly advanced civilization that's simply disappeared.

The interface is simplicity itself: just point-and-click to talk, gather and just progress--and that's all there is to it.The graphics are stunning. With Industrial Light and Magic special effects and some impeccable light-sourcing, we're talking top-of-the-line stuff here.The character animation is excellent, with smooth movement and accomplished voice-acting. Plus the orchestrated score is what you'd expect from the folks who hired John Williams to do Star Wars--filled with atmosphere, but not enough to capsize the project.

If there's a problem here, it's that The Dig is too short. You'll probably be able to knock it off in a weekend or so. But, as with life itself, it's good while it lasts.