Its pace, coupled with the solitary feeling of being thousands of feet below the ground, makes for a soothing and tranquil experience. There are no monsters to fight or weapons to fire, and aside from the risk of blowing up your ship if you damage it too much, there’s really no way to die. And that’s okay. Like any trip into the unknown, Super Motherload conveys strong feelings of isolation and intrigue by keeping things simple and letting you explore things at your leisure. Its eclectic, almost hypnotic soundtrack enhances the experience even further, and even made me lose track of what time it was several times.
Up to three friends can also join you in local co-op, but you won’t miss anything if you decide to play alone. Everyone shares a fuel tank and has his or her own cargo meter, so you don’t really gain anything by playing with others. In fact, things can get crazy pretty quickly, ruining the calmness that comes from playing by yourself.
Despite the freedom it offers, Super Motherload does come with a story that will eventually bring your digging to an end. Segmented radio transmissions provide some narrative and fill you in on what’s been happening to other scientists doing research underground. It’s not all good news, of course, and you are sometimes asked to unearth objects for them. These errands don’t provide anything new--just look around and dig them up--but they make you feel like there is a purpose to all of your digging. They also create checkpoints and give you a sense of how far you are into the surface and into the game.
When you do reach the final moments of your excavation, things get weird--not just because of what you discover in the planet’s core, but because the game shifts into something else. Let’s just say you need to do something besides digging. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air since it frees you from your routine, but because it happens at the end of it all and without any warning, it’s not elegantly incorporated.
Not everyone is going to enjoy the calm and repetitive structure of Super Motherload, especially at its $15 price point. But give it a chance, and you’ll find that all that mining can be quite relaxing and almost addictive, keeping you tunneling happily until you reach that hard bump at the end. The game may not be at the top of the pile for impressive PS4 games right now, but it’s one worth digging into.