Monday, January 30, 2012

Diamond Digger (XBLIG): "A Truly Challenging & Entertaining Puzzle Game"

In early 2011 I got the chance to review "The Cannon" by "Elemental Focus (The Developer)". It was a game that used shmup style gameplay in a new, and innovative way. As a reviewer, and gamer I loved their approach to game design. It's always nice to see a game developer who goes out of their way to make something new that gamers like myself haven't seen before. I'm definitely glad to see this developer return once again with a game that's equally as unique as their first. The game I'm speaking of is a puzzle game called "Diamond Digger" that utilizes a greater than, and less than gameplay mechanics. It features a puzzle solving system comparable to "Ro-Sham-Bo", or as you may be more familiar with, "Rock-Paper-Scissors". By basing their game on this basic theme the developer created a game that goes beyond what traditional puzzle based video games such as "Tetris" offer. Their brilliantly designed levels make the player actually think about their objective instead of blindly rushing forward through the game. It's a game that's definitely geared towards the more intellectual gamers out there, but that can be enjoyed by any gamer who wishes to challenge themselves.

Diamond Digger is a fairly straightforward puzzle game with some complicated twists added to it. As the gamer it is your goal to get the diamond/s within each level to drop past the bottom line of blocks into a blackened area. This simple goal is complicated by the fact that each block in the game has a different numerical/physical property. This is where the "Rock-Paper-Scissors" gameplay mechanics come in. There are a variety of block types (Glass, Wood, Stone, Metal ...) in "Diamond Digger" that are either weaker, or stronger than the other blocks above/below them. The diamonds in the game which are valued as (1) can only pass through stone which has a numerical value of (2). The other materials/blocks also have a numerical value that respond in the same manner. The numerical value of the blocks can be displayed by pressing the (Y) button. This allows the player to see which blocks will pass through which with greater ease. Blocks can be set to pass through other blocks in ascending, or descending numerical order through start menu settings.

This game isn't only about diamonds passing through other blocks. It also contains some unique power-ups (Lava, Crumble, Anti-Crush, Earthquake, Dynamite ...) that extend the challenge of completing each level. These power-ups effect the game in various ways. You can clear surrounding blocks with the dynamite power-up, shuffle the blocks with the earthquake power-up, Clear the bottom row of blocks with the crush power-up, reverse the order in which blocks can pass through one another with the anti-crush power-up, and clear an entire vertical row of blocks with the lava power-up. There are a total of 40 levels/puzzles in Diamond Digger's puzzle mode, and two additional modes (Timed & Endurance) that add a certain amount of replay value to the experience. The "puzzle" mode is the first available mode that you can play, and has 40 puzzles that must be completed in order to unlock the other two game modes. The "Timed" mode is exactly as it sounds, but features a different type of puzzle that mainly focuses on getting as many diamonds to the bottom of the screen as possible within a given amount of time. The "Endurance Mode" is pretty much a survival mode that keeps track of how many diamonds you have gotten past the bottom blocks before running out of moves.

In conclusion I found "Diamond Digger" to be a very challenging puzzle game. It isn't really the sort of game that I'm into. I guess that's mainly because I like action oriented games such as FPS, and fighting games. With that being said, "Diamond Digger" isn't a bad game. It offers unique puzzle challenges in a new, and somewhat entertaining way. It also has P2P (player to player) highscores, and local leaderboards which are a plus. The music in the game is also quite catchy. I found myself humming the delightful tune as I did my playthrough. If you're looking for a solid/challenging puzzle game that's extremely affordable, and has a lot to offer then this game is definitely worth it. I also have to mention that according to the developer there will be additional levels added as more units of the game are sold. This is definitely an incentive for future buyer's of the game. For every 1,000 copies of the game sold (up to 5,000) there will be an additional 12 puzzles added according the developer's own website.

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