A CARTOONISH CAVALCADE OF ADVENTURE…..AND LOOT!
Good vs Evil. In a conversation with a good friend recently, I came to realise that this simple premise that has been around way before video games, before Broadway and West End, before Hollywood movies, even before Shakespeare has become somewhat over complicated over the past couple of decades. What happened to the simple tale of young hero receives mystical sword, sometimes hellbent on avenging a family member goes on a quest to vanquish the evil king/queen/sorcerers/dragon and maybe even sometimes getting the girl in the process, and obviously games like Zelda and Mario would be spoken in the same breath as this kind of premise. Well with a new found fondness in my heart of the classical approach to Good vs Evil comes The Swords of Ditto, an Action RPG made by Onebitbeyond and Devolver Digital, and as much honesty as I can muster, let me tell you, with its stunningly colourful and cartoon like visuals, razor sharp gameplay, and a familiar premise with a unique play on things that suits this title down to the ground, Swords of Ditto is one of the biggest blasts of fresh air and one of he best games I’ve played this year so far.
Swords of Ditto takes place in the Land of Ditto, a happy little place that has been shrouded in darkness now that the evil Queen Mormo has taken over. Every 100 years a hero arises to wield and mighty sword and become the Sword of Ditto in hopes of smiting her and bringing her tyranny of darkness to an end, with the help of a plucky beetle Puku who I can only describe as a less consistent Navi. But as you soon find out from your first nameless hero, this is no easy task. With each champion’s demise a new one takes it place and starts the adventure a new which is where Swords of Ditto comes into its own. The straight forward narrative goes so well with its cute aesthetic and shouts out to anybody that appreciates a good dungeon crawler.
Swords of Ditto is advertised as a Compact Action RPG and it keeps to its word to the book while even having its own quirks. You play as a completely random protagonist and go about your journey with a 4 day time limit in which to defeat Mormo (Majora’s Mask, anyone?), but once your character meets their demise, 100 years pass and you meet a new playable character which Puku urges to take the sword from their grave and take up the mantle of the Sword of Ditto and you start again, and when this happens, it truly is a pain in the arse as you lose your equipment and stat buffing stickers with only your level and cash remaining (so it’s not all bad). Although at first, I found the combat system to be kind of difficult, over time I came to terms with it and started to have some serious fun with the game itself still maintaining its challenging gameplay, this is thanks to the fair difficulty curve in its many different creatures that trial you in different ways (the floating skulls that you heal when you hit them when you come into contact with their smoke is itself an fantastic addition) and the stimulating puzzles, you can also take on sidequests from the people you meet but they can grow tiresome and lengthy and with some dungeons only allowing you entry until you’ve reached a certain level you are urged to become stronger.
Weaponry includes your mystic blade, projectiles, frisbees and even a magic golf club! Items that benefit your strength, defence and healing items that come in the form of stickers that on and loot aplenty that just adds to Swords of Ditto’s sugary element. This title also urges you to go out, explore and take on you trek in a way you see fit with very little direction of where to actually go, very reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda if you ask me this is also apparent in the top down view, you can even go straight to Mormo’s castle and try your luck facing her without doing any grinding if you like, but remember you have 4 days to prepare yourself. The world also changes in certain ways each playthrough with Mormo’s influence being noticeable and giving the land a life of its own and you can even take on this challenge with a friend in some exhilarating couch co-op.
From what I mentioned earlier, you may have surmised that Sword of Ditto’s art style is one that really catches the eye and trust me regardless of your own artistic niche it really will. Every colour be it light or dark pops out of the screen spectacularly with the villages, dungeons, graveyards and castles captures the atmosphere and influences a variety of feelings in the player. The adorable characters models are also an effective compliment to the games surroundings with each hero you play as having a unique appearance which is one way of keeping your playthrough fresh even though at some points you may have to start again, the NPC’s you encounter on your way are also charming and unique and along with their colourful outlook their bold outlines helps each and every one of them stand out in their surroundings. And the lack of voice acting, and the utilisation of text boxes bring that old school touch that’s simple hard not to love. Swords of Ditto also boasts a soundtrack that melds in so well with everything else it has to offer. The upbeat tones is an excellent accompaniment to every situation in this title, be it striking down foes, discovering items, traversing fields and solving puzzles in dungeons and can be vividly ambient whilst exploring the darker areas that Swords of Ditto has to offer whilst still in some way maintaining its boldness.
The Swords of Ditto is available now on PS4 and PC.
Code was supplied by Devolver Digital.