Qt3 Classic Game Club #34: The Dig

When you think of LucasArts adventure games, there are a few things that probably come immediately to mind. Maybe one is Tim Schafer. But more broadly, you might think of the characteristic humor, zany situations, and cartoony style of Day of the Tentacle or Full Throttle or Monkey Island.

These are all great games and would be worthy game club games. But my heart belongs to another. It doesn’t have the goofiness; it’s pretty much dead serious. It doesn’t have the peculiar uniqueness of DOTT’s time traveling toilet or Grim Fandango’s land of the dead. The Dig is a bunch of space movie archetypes launched into an adventure of cosmic scope.

It’s also (to my memory–we’ll see if this holds up) an adventure game with puzzles that don’t feel as forced or contrived as other games, which I attribute to the alien setting. Your job is to unravel the logic of the environment, not to contort everyday objects to purposes never before imagined.

It does share one thing with all those LucasArts games: a fantastic Wagnerian score by Michael Land.

You can get The Dig on Steam or on GOG. I don’t know how those versions run as far as widescreens, etc, but if you want to have more control over the presentation, you should be able to haul the game files into ScummVM and set it up to your liking.

Have we done an adventure game for the club yet? (I guess Spycraft is basically one, huh?) I don’t want anyone to be afraid of spoilers, but I don’t want to stifle conversation. For the first week, let’s keep story point discussion to a minimum or use spoiler tags and concentrate on general impressions. After that, I think it should be open discussion.

Oh man, I am a sucker for a good point and click adventure, and as I recall I never beat this game back in the day. I’m in.

Funny thing with this game. About a year and a half ago I was helping my in laws clean up their office/ basement. When going through the closet by the computer I came across a boxed copy of this game, still in shrink wrap. They also had a few other similarly aged PC games from when my wife was young.

Somehow this was the first I had really heard of it. I saw the pedigree, and by this time I knew who the people were, but when it came out I had no idea Lucasarts did things other than Star Wars. Hmm, could that disk be workable? Is it worth the effort?

Hey, I already own this on Steam. I’ve played it twice before; once when it came out and once… uh sometime after that. Maybe I’ll play it again!

Good choice!

Edit: ok, I started it up just to see. After playing for 5 minutes, I have two comments. Orson Scott Card and Spielberg both appear in the credits (Card for writing dialog, Spielberg for “from an idea by”). And it has a Lunar Lander mini-game! Neat!

Great pick. I really enjoyed it back in the day, despite the somewhat rushed ending. It’s a really cool game.

Good pick. According to steam I bought this waaay back in 2010, maybe now I’ll have a good reason to dig into it. Don’t get up, I’ll see myself out.

Ooh, I remember loving this. I think I even read Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of it at some point. Downloading it now, maybe I’ll join.

If you’re running the Steam version, Alt+Enter to go full screen (well, almost full screen, it doesn’t do widescreen). There doesn’t appear to be any way to skip dialog, which is annoying (I haven’t tried to skip cutscenes, so I don’t know if you can do that).

A ha ha ha, now I remember why I put this game aside: the turtle skeleton/bomb puzzle. I could never get that thing to work and I was too proud to consult a guide. What a young fool I was.

Try pressing the ‘.’ Button. It works in all other Lucas arts games.

It’s funny - I don’t remember having problems with the turtle puzzle.

This is like… the worst scientific expedition ever. These guys shouldn’t be trusted with a kid’s chemistry set, much less nuclear bombs and alien planets.

If you untick “Correct Aspect Ratio”, it almost is: 320x200 = 16:10 ;-)

Loving the atmosphere and the sprite animations. Although funny how the inclusion of the space shuttle of all things seems to date it somehow.

I’m going to have to catch up to you guys after the weekend. I’m doing Ludum Dare! Waaaaghh! Wish me luck!

I wonder if there’s an uncompressed version of the cutscenes sitting around on some server somewhere at LucasArts, er, Disney. They’re pretty nice looking but they’re compressed to the point you can’t even see what you’re looking at half the time.

Yay! I solved the turtle jigsaw puzzle without cheating! Then I had to do it again… :P

I found the turtle puzzle much easier this time around than I rembered it being. In general, I’m surprised at how logical and straightforward many of the puzzles seem, although maybe that’s just me remembering them subconsciously. Also, apart from the cutscenes and maybe some pre-rendered elements, I think it has aged remarkably well. Backgrounds, colour palette, art direction, animations, music, voice acting and writing I really like. By comparison, I thought that the remastered edition of Grim Fandango, which I remembered as being even better than The Dig, felt much more dated that this. I guess it helps that even recent point & click adventures are still sometimes made in the same resolution.

Argh, just spent 20 minutes getting tripped up by the same thing that tripped me up 20 years ago – this is not a spoiler – sometimes you have to hold the mouse button down until something happens. Sheesh.

That was one of the parts I thankfully could still recall cleary (because I was once stuck on it for so long), but yeah, that feels unfairly designed.

I played this 8-10 years ago, and I remember playing the demo way back when it was released. The turtle puzzle required some tries.

What I remember the most is that the game felt really short when I played through it. Or am I confusing it with Full Throttle? I did replay a couple of those games in a short period of time.