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The Swords of Ditto

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 14 - 2018

Again and again.

In some games, when you die or reach whatever fail state the game is working with, you respawn somewhere else, maybe a little way back on your journey or at a specific location, losing little more than some progress. Other games may test your resolve by giving a game over screen upon failure. Either way works for me, to be honest, but I love a game that ties the death or failure of a character into the very fabric of the game, as Onebitbeyond’s The Swords of Ditto has done so well.

tsod1 (Copy)

The Swords of Ditto is a roguelite action RPG with more than a passing similarity to certain Zelda games. The player begins being woken by a dung beetle named Puku who explains that your character is the latest incarnation of the legendary hero known as the Sword of Ditto. Nothing we haven’t seen before, so head off and claim the sword from the resting place of the last hero, then get about your legendary business. In this world, that happens to be defeating the evil Mormo who is exerting her dark power over the island of Ditto. The problem is that you only have four days to build up strength and learn the necessary skills to take on this evil creature, which will lead to some inevitable conclusions.

But this is where the death of the character is tied into the game so well. Upon death, which will happen very often, time jumps forward 100 years to the next incarnation of the Sword of Ditto, as the island only gets one every hundred years. The player then gets to start their journey again, once more trying to build up the strength and learn all of the secrets needed to defeat Mormo. I know, it sounds like a bit of a drag – four days then you start again, die and you start again. It could be frustrating, but not everything is doom and gloom.

tsod2 (Copy)

For starters, the island of Ditto changes from one life to the next. Of course, this makes sense as 100 years have passed and, if you failed to defeat Mormo, the evil influence will have had an effect. The village, which may well be in a completely different place now, will be more worn down under Mormo’s rule. Caves and dungeons will have moved as well, perhaps a little more surprisingly, making each incarnation that little bit different.

More importantly, our hero will carry with them experience and currency through each incarnation, meaning that they will gradually get stronger with each play through. Further down the line there are other ways to carry stuff from one life to the next, making the game that little bit easier as it gets more difficult. But to start with, players will have to get used to heading out each time and unlocking dungeons to reclaim their toys and buy new stickers, which can be a little foreboding, but still manages to feel like proper progression rather than a punishment.

So yeah, toys and stickers. In case you hadn’t noticed, The Swords of Ditto has a charming cartoon-like visual style along with a theme that would not look out of place in shows such as Adventure Time. The overall looks of the game are absolutely lovely, and surprisingly detailed with even the facial expressions on the various monsters being a joy to watch. While the various aspects of the environments may move around with each life, they are not just procedurally generated, which means that they all have personality. It is a great game to experience with someone else, which makes it handy that couch co-op is included. But even just watching someone else play is fun.

tsod3 (Copy)

The toys refer to various pieces of equipment that would have been much more seriously presented in other games. These toys, such as a vinyl record that is used like a boomerang, come in useful for solving the various simple puzzles that the player faces. They also raise the otherwise simple combat up from just swinging the sword and dodging attacks, giving the player choices when it comes to encounters. The stickers on the other hand represent new abilities or buffs that can be added to the hero.

Playing the game involves levelling up your character, finding the dungeons that hold toys or anchors that need to be destroyed, fighting a whole army of strange creatures and then facing off against Mormo in four days. While it really does feel like progression each time you die and are reincarnated, and the island does change the way it looks each hundred years, there is still going to be a certain amount of repetition involved in waking up and grabbing the sword over and over again. The time limit only adds to the frustration, forcing the player to rush through the game in an effort to build tension.

tsod4 (Copy)

The Swords of Ditto is a game filled with charm and silliness. It looks great and plays really well, although the constant restarting can grate after a while. But the gameplay and concept are both solid enough to recommend The Swords of Ditto to any retro action RPG fans, especially those who want some great couch co-op.




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