Shovel Knight Dig: Beginner’s Guide (Tips, Tricks, & Strategies)


The release of Shovel Knight Dig brought a roguelite spin to the series’ iconic platforming style, but the game’s difficulty and bare-bones tutorial leave players to their own devices as they dive into Shovel Knight’s latest adventure. Between its 16-bit aesthetic upgrade and engaging new gameplay mechanics, Shovel Knight Dig’s successful leap into the genre offers endless hours of entertainment for beginner and long-time fans alike. However, the combination of roguelite repetition and Shovel Knight’s brutal difficulty can leave some players stuck in the Well’s first world.


Shovel Knight returns to the surface after each spelunk, giving him the chance to purchase items and upgrades from the friendly NPCs near the Well. Players can unlock new upgrades, items, and techniques as they dig further, granting them powerful new abilities that will aid them in future runs. There are Shovel Knight bosses to beat, items and armors to unlock, feats to achieve, and a True Ending to discover before players reach 100% completion, but first, they’ll have to survive a run through the Well.

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Excursions into Shovel Knight Dig’s enemy-infested Well end with death more often than not, but each dig progresses the game as players collect more and more treasure. Players can choose to focus on managing their health to explore further each time they descend, or they can risk their health to collect gems and items that will aid them on future runs. While the repetition may feel frustrating at first, this classic risk vs. reward challenge allows players to find a balance that makes their gameplay experience more satisfying.

Getting Started Tips & Strategies: How To Progress

Like most roguelikes, Shovel Knight Dig requires players to run through repeated loops of gameplay in order to progress. Trying over and over again is part of the process, and each loop allows players to collect gems, unlock upgrades, and familiarize themselves with the game’s mechanics. However, while learning the game’s basic moves and mechanics is the best way to increase the odds of surviving, certain strategies will make it easier for players to focus on progressing no matter how many times they run out of health.

  • Keep Going: While there are treasures to uncover in almost every inch of the Well, it’s important for players to maintain a good momentum as they dig through each run. The Omega Saw follows behind Shovel Knight as he descends, destroying everything it touches—including Shovel Knight himself. Focus on collecting important treasures and health recovery items, but some gems won’t be worth the risk.
  • Hit Notches & Nails: Irregularities on the Well’s walls or ground will often unlock secret rooms and areas when struck. These areas contain treasure, health items, and unlockable bonuses, making them a crucial part of a successful dig. The Omega Saw can’t chase Shovel Knight into these secret rooms, so players have a chance to recover some health, solve a puzzle, or simply catch their breath.
  • Banked Gems: Gems that are put in the bank at the end of each run can be used to purchase upgrades, Relic Keys, and level shortcuts on the Surface. In order to shop from vendors in the Well, however, players will need to spend the gems they’ve collected during that run.
  • Return to the Surface: Check back on Shovel Night Dig’s NPCs, shops, and other updates on the Surface. Important items and upgrades may become available between runs, and the NPCs at the campfire often have interesting lore to share as well.

How To Recover & Upgrade Health

As with previous Shovel Knight games, players can recover health by eating food in Shovel Knight Dig. Gastronomole’s food stand can be found in secret rooms, offering recovery items as well as health and magic upgrades. Players can also obtain a random health item by spinning Tom Bola’s wheel for 250 gems if they find him in the level instead. Some secret rooms will contain a free platter of food, but players should be wary that these platters may be trapped with a bomb.

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If players collect all three Golden Gears within a Shovel Knight Dig stage, they’ll be able to choose a bonus to unlock before proceeding. One of the options is guaranteed to be a chicken, which offers a complete health refill. The other option is a mystery item, though players will typically find a Relic or Accessory to bring with them.

Beginner’s Guide To Relics & Accessories

Relics and Accessories allow Shovel Knight to wield magic abilities and unique combat skills against his foes as he progresses further into the Well. Several Relics and Accessories are available from the start of the game, but players will have to unlock the rest to discover and use them during a run. Relics offer new attacks or abilities, while Accessories typically enhance Shovel Knight’s damage and resistances.

Relics can be unlocked through Relic Challenges, which require players to carry a Relic Key safely through a level. These keys are available in Hoofman’s shop, but Shovel Knight will drop any keys he’s carrying if he takes damage. If players successfully reach a Relic Door with a Relic Key, they’ll have a chance to complete the Relic Challenge and unlock the Relic to use in future runs.

On the other hand, accessories can be purchased from Chester’s cart near the Campfire in Shovel Knight Dig. Once unlocked, these Accessories will be available in Chester’s shops if players come across his chest in the Well. His shop is typically marked with a blue lantern, but players will need to have found enough gems on their run to afford his wares. Accessories will also appear in orange bags throughout each level, allowing players to pick up a useful item without spending their gems.

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What The Path Banners Mean (& Which Paths Are Best)

As players progress through each stage of Shovel Knight Dig, they will be given a choice between two paths marked with banners. Red banners indicate a more challenging level below, so it’s best for beginners to choose the green and brown paths until they’re ready for a more significant challenge. The icons on the banner indicate the level’s unique attributes, so players can prepare for what’s to come:

  • Enemy Icon: Depicted enemy appears more frequently or will be absent from the level if marked with an X
  • NPC Icon: Guarantees that the indicated NPC will appear in the next stage
  • Horseshoe: Guarantees that a Relic Door will be at the end of the level
  • Apple: Increased chance of finding health items in the stage
  • Gold Star: Level will be easier than average
  • Skull: Level will be more difficult than average

What You Keep (& Lose) Each Run

When players reach the end of a run, the progress that they made is never entirely lost. Some of the gems collected in Shovel Knight on a run are banked to be spent on the Surface, while a fraction will remain behind in bags that players can recover during their next dig. In addition, players will drop all of their Relics, Accessories, and any Shovel Blade techniques they’ve learned, requiring them to pick up a new set of tools during their next run. Health and magic also reset at the start of each run, so Shovel Knight Dig players will start with a clean slate every time they dive into the Well.

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  • Shovel Knight Dig Poster

    Shovel Knight Dig

    Shovel Knight

    Nintendo Switch, Steam, PC, Apple Arcade

    Original Release Date:

    Yacht Club Games, Nitrome

    Yacht Club Games

    Roguelite, Action


    Shovel Knight Dig brings players back into the world of indie Kickstarter success Shovel Knight in an all-new game with a unique twist. From the developers of Steamworld Dig and Shovel Knight, this new entry combines the elements of the two titles to create an action rogue-lite where players will jump, slash, and dig their way through an all-new game set in the Shovel Knight universe. When Shovel Knight is stirred from his slumber at a campsite due to his loot being stolen by Drill Knight, he grabs his trusty spade and pursues him underground. Players can play as either Shovel Knight or Shield Knight as they travel downwards in randomly generated levels where they’ll find loot and buy items to help them survive the more complex areas. In true roguelike fashion, some upgrades are permanent, but when players die, they’ll lose all their power-ups and currency. Shovel Knight Dig was released on September 23 2022.


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