The Dig

Developer: LucasArts
Release Date: 1995

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When the earth is threatened by a large asteroid, Nasa sends out a team of experts to neutralize the threat. Using nuclear detonators to move the asteroid into safe orbit the team succeeds in its task. But while exploring earth's new moon, three members of the crew activate an arcane device, turning the asteroid into a spaceship which subsequently warps to another planet, taking the hapless astronauts with it. Stranded on an apparently deserted alien planet, the three astronauts; Cmdr. Boston Low, expert Archaeologist Dr. Ludger Brink and ace reporter Maggie Robins must work together to unravel the staggering mystery of the abandoned world they're stranded on; But the seemingly inert planet has several dangers lurking about; some connected with the hostile environment while other more subtle secrets threaten to turn our displaced heroes against each other...

Based on a concept by Steven Spielberg himself, The Dig is perhaps the most serious and epic adventure game by Lucasarts to-date. Mixing hard science with the usual creativity Lucasarts used to be known for, as well as including dialogue written by famous sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, The Dig tells a story about survival in an alien environment. The game features talented voice-acting, with Robert Patric (The bad guy from terminator 2) as the main protagonist.

While game play is similar to other Lucasarts adventure titles of the time, the game interface is noticeably simpler than the others, with only one click of the mouse performing all functions such as picking up items, using items or engaging in conversations, with the "look at" function accessible via the inventory. Meanwhile the dialogue menu is borrowed from "Sam & Max hit the road", with a horizontal bar containing icons for questions, statements and individual subjects which appear as the game progresses, as opposed to the conventional list of sentences.

If you are hoping for an easy game that you can solve in a few sittings, forget it, get "Day of the Tentacle" instead. The puzzles in "The Dig" are HARD. Very Hard. This is perhaps the most crippling flaw of the game. While certainly not illogical, the puzzles in this game revolve around trying to figure out a totally alien environment, making them very complex and most clues you get are overly cryptic.

Fortunately, the other aspects of the game greatly outweigh its flaws. The graphics, while considered outdated for its time, are still very pleasing to the eye, especially concerning the beautiful hand-painted background art. The sound is certainly not bad either, with a heavy orchestral score fitting the eerie atmosphere and good voice acting bringing the characters to life. The best aspect of the game, however, is the compelling story. Being an epic sci-fi mystery, the story immediately captivates the player, forcing him/her to play through to the end.

So if you're looking for a great story and atmosphere in a game, you could do a lot worse than playing "The Dig". Even if you have played through most of the game with a walkthrough, you will feel satisfied once you have witnessed this masterpiece.

By: Einsi