Developer: Team Chaos
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

I Dig It: Journey to the Core is Team Chaos resurrecting an old App Store favorite much like they did with Enigmo: Explore, by helping to get a new version on to the App Store. However, since it is 2014, this is a free-to-play version of the game. And while the monetization elements are not as badly applied as they could be, they still impact a game that was just fine without them.

IDigIt3-3IDigIt3-7Missions generally involve collecting items called “diggins,” and usually trying to obtain a certain quantity of them. As well, there are three stars in each level, slightly hidden in the dirt, and players must collect these in order to progress to the next world. Of course, digging requires some intelligence: one needs to have solid ground below in order to dig downward, requiring a careful approach to getting some items. Each level gives the player a limited amount of fuel to complete the mission, with each drilling using up a unit of fuel. Now, flying upward uses fuel over time, but not in a way that is easy to perceive nor track, so just be careful if nearing the end of the fuel meter.

The game’s touch controls are great. Tapping on a spot will intelligently move or dig to there, though they won’t allow for drilling three squares ahead, for example. Dragging from the driller will allow it to move in a straight line, drilling in the direction the player dictates. It’s just a great way to handle these controls.

The way the game approaches its challenges as puzzles in the guise of a digging game is something that still works for this series. Yet, the action of digging through everything gives it just enough of an action game feel to scratch an itch that pure puzzle games often fail to satisfy with.

IDigIt3-2IDigIt3-6Controversially, I Dig It: Journey to the Core goes free-to-play and uses an energy mechanic to hinder progress. At a core level, I am opposed to games like this including such a system. I think it does more, especially in a game like this, to keep players from getting hooked by way of stopping players in their tracks rather than helping to get them to come back often.

Thankfully the game does refill the energy pretty often. 5 minutes per life, with a total of 5 lives. And unlike something like Card Wars, the game is at least actually free-to-play. Still, especially with the grinding to get additional stars and upgrades that’s also present, it feels like it’s just putting a brick wall up in front of player enjoyment. It also requires an internet connection, which just feels unnecessary. It’s possible to refill the energy meter with gems, which have to be bought in order to be used with any sort of regularity.

While I Dig It: Journey to the Core‘s free-to-play aspects are annoying, the game is solid enough, and the application of monetization is not too annoying, but it’s still there, and it does impact what should otherwise be a fun experience.

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