No, Gold Diggers isn’t some Real Housewives tie-in game, but it is about getting down and dirty in pursuit of some filthy lucre. It’s a vertically-oriented variation on the endless runner genre that unfortunately doesn’t sparkle quite as much as its metallic subject matter.
Without so much as a cutscene you’re thrust into the digging action. Gold panning? That’s for old guys and slow people: in this world, mechanical trains with massive drills are where it’s at. You guide its downward journey by sliding your finger back and forth on the screen, collecting gold nuggets and avoiding hazards along the way. Crash three times and your run ends.
Don’t expect an easy journey: the inside of the Earth is suspiciously full of things that want to kill you, like some subterranean Super Mario world. You’ll be navigating through lava and around rotating fireballs, jumping between broken train tracks and swerving to avoid being eaten by massive boss monsters. Why didn’t they tell us about this stuff in science class? The layout changes after every death, so each play is a new experience.
Your depth is the ultimate tally of success, while the conveniently standardized hunks of gold are the currency used to purchase driller upgrades and new characters in the upgrade shop. It will be a while before you can afford anything, but you can speed things up—of course—by plunking down real-world loot in the IAP shop.
So far, so standard. All the elements come together smoothly, but Gold Diggers lacks the subtle touches that propel a game to the top of the App Store heap. Chart toppers like Jetpack Joyride and Where’s My Water? whip endearing presentation, easily-understood mechanics, and a steady stream of unlockable rewards into unputdownable confections, but Gold Digger’s component parts don’t achieve this elusive success.
While the cartoony graphics are pleasant, the absence of any backstory at all means you lack emotional investment in your avatar and its successes and failures. Endless games are among the easiest to understand, but Gold Diggers fails to explain its mechanics at all, leaving you temporarily clueless, wondering if you’re missing something important: for example, there’s a screen-tapping minigame that we didn’t realize was a minigame until several runs in. Finally, the bite-sized goals standard to most running games are there but the rewards are more gold, and the thought of spending your loot in the sparsely-stocked upgrades store isn’t enough to spur you to tap “retry”.
We quickly reached a score limit in our descents that, due to the increasing speed, we didn’t see a way of overcoming. And, crucially, we didn’t have much desire to keep trying: the steady drip of incentives that fuel a ‘one more go” frenzy just aren’t here.
If chasing a high score is reward enough for you, Gold Diggers is an adequate diversion. Its component parts contain moments of interest, but the combination never surpasses average. Gold Diggers is an app to be played and then forgotten, another chunk of pyrite in an App Store that’s all too full of them.