With games steadily becoming bigger, more intense, and more serious with each release, it’s refreshing to venture into something filled with childhood wonder such as The Swords of Ditto. The Swords of Ditto plops players in a bubbly, highly stylized word to venture out into a semi-roguelike dungeon crawler with simple but challenging combat that oozes 2D Legend of Zelda in almost every crack and crevice. While the gameplay isn’t anything outstanding, the simplicity of the menus and the ability to seamlessly have a friend join you in Ditto makes this game a great time.
The main focus each playthrough is simple: get a sword (from either town center or the graveyard), seek out dungeons to get toys of legends, use said toys to break anchors that empower the main villain Mormo, break four anchors, challenge Mormo, then defeat her to free the land of Ditto for one hundred years. Rinse and repeat. Simple enough, but players only have a couple of days to do so, and if they happen to die on their journey, they have to restart. It sounds overwhelming at first, but players quickly get the hang of everything. They fall into a basic rhythm, making The Swords of Ditto feel effortless and just simple fun.
Combat in The Swords of Ditto can be summed up with two words: attack, dodge. That’s pretty much it. The challenge and fun come from the different types of enemies that spawn in the different dungeons. For instance, there’s a cluster of skulls that curse players so that when players strike the skulls, instead of dealing damage they heal them instead. But players also have access to toys of legends that can be assigned to the D-pad that change the way the game is played completely. I mostly used a gold club to send enemies into others and deal damage and then stun them to get real damage in. Players can find materials to tweak the effects of the toys and they can also find stickers that act as buffs for the hero. The stickers do simple things such as each hit restores mana or something as weird as the ability to constantly roll.
The entire map that players can explore and tackle is made of individual chunks that are stitched together randomly for each new hero. But the game isn’t filled with linear choices as there’s plenty to keep players busy in the meantime. There are dojos to test players’ combat skills, mini-dungeons that offer new gear or ways to replenish health or even a slew of interesting characters that offer side-quests or offer to help if players have the right items. Almost every single spot on the map offers something to do for the player and always pays off in the end.
The dungeons are simple but engaging. Most puzzles maybe take a couple of tries to get it and even then, I was battling with the mechanics not keeping up with me. Most puzzles center around a switch that will change the color of the room from red to blue and vice versa. When the colors flop, certain aspects of the room will change. Maybe an enemy, platforms, or even land mines will spawn. Later dungeons will combine multiple challenges, but nothing players cannot handle.
Along with the puzzles in each dungeon, there are also Isle of Trials rules, a specific set of modifiers that change how each dungeon operates. At the start, players will maybe have one or two modifiers, but end game they’ll get up to four modifiers that can range from the sword doing double damage, negating poison, or not being able to use consumables. This ensures that each playthrough and dungeon could swing in the player’s favor or against them.
While The Swords of Ditto is a great time, it isn’t without flaws. There were a few too many times that the game would stutter or completely freeze for a couple of seconds, and I play on a PS4 Pro. But the biggest issue I had was the amount of pressure thrown on the players during their first playthrough. I was excited to take this little journey, but when Ditto dropped the time limit on me, I was taken aback. It’s a little too harsh for a first playthrough and the game teases players that they can get the ability to rewind time, but never goes any further. To rewind time, players have to collect enough coins to pray at an altar and once they do that they have to collect 100 of a completely different collectible to rewind time. They must do this while doing everything else during their first playthrough. The biggest kicker is that days feel like they change every five minutes. At that point, I didn’t know that if players die, the game starts over, so I was under the assumption that if players didn’t do all of this in a couple of days, they lost and that’s that.
The Swords of Ditto is an all-around good time. The catchy soundtrack and gorgeous and highly stylized artwork easily pull players in. Even though some key information isn’t told to players readily, it’s still a blast to plow through hordes of goons and even more fun with someone at your side. With some tweaks, The Swords of Ditto could easily climb to the top and be a big contender for indie titles. If you’ve got a friend and some time to kill, pick up The Swords of Ditto.
The Swords of Ditto is now available on PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version provided by the publisher for review purposes.