Developer: Ludosity

Publisher: Nicalis

Release Date: November 14th, 2017

Price as of Article: $29.99 USD, £26.99

Story

There once were two adventurers lost out on a raft out at sea: a young girl named Ittle and her flying fox, Tippsie.  One day, as Tippsie nibbled hungrily on Ittle’s leg and hope seemed lost, they found their selves somehow stranded on a mysterious island as their raft washed ashore in the middle of a small lake!  Thus, their newest adventure begins…

In Ittle Dew 2+, you take control of an adventurer named Ittle.  Ittle is a rambunctious young lady who seeks nothing outside of the thrill of journeying, the satisfaction of figuring out a good puzzle and finding out what is inside the next tantalizing chest.  She concerns herself with little outside of what is encompassed by this philosophy of life.  In fact, her personal motto could be summed up as such: Solve it or break it!

Ittle’s companion is a fairy-like fox with four wings named Tippsie and is in a way disconnected from the absolute enthusiasm displayed by his friend.  He is completely unmotivated and uninterested in the events of the story but is an invaluable source of knowledge for our intrepid hero.

As these two embark on their quest to find a way off this island, they are immediately accosted by a grumpy old man named Passel who implores that they just leave the island without attempting to delve into its many puzzles and dungeons.  He’ll have none of these whippersnappers’ nonsense!  This, of course, serves to do little other than motivate the rebellious Ittle to do the exact opposite.  Ittle loves a good adventure, and this island smells of it!

Throughout the game, you will search through 8 dungeons for various items to help you progress through the game’s open world more easily and to obtain 8 raft pieces.  Use these raft pieces to craft a fully functioning raft and escape.  Who needs trees when you can adventure through 8 dangerous dungeons and get trapped into countless precarious battles for some raft pieces!?

Ittle Dew 2+ is a game full of silly, tongue-in-cheek humor.  There is a wonderful sense of satire as the characters appear to know that they are characters in a video game when they openly discuss adventure tropes using common video game terms.  The writing is great, but it isn’t the focus of the game.  Don’t expect a text-heavy adventure.  What is there is quality, though.

 

Audio

Ittle Dew 2+ features a variety of upbeat, light and whimsical songs in its soundtrack.  These songs are in a 16-bit style, and generally feature the piano and guitar.  The music suits each stage very well and adds to the overall experience.  There are also some clever uses of stage hazards where their sound effects are timed to the beat of the song to enhance it.  For example, there is one room where some cannons fire in a 1, 2, 3 beat that is synced up with the music.  While these are all nice tunes, there is nothing particularly memorable.  They will keep you in the adventure though!

Below, I have included a link to Ludosity’s compilation of the complete soundtrack on Youtube..

 

Visuals

Ittle Dew 2+ features charming graphics in a simple, hand-drawn style.  The colors are bright, and the drawings are clean with hard contour lines which helps everything on the screen pop.  Nothing is obscured or difficult to distinguish in this game.  However, the caveat of this simple style is that nothing is particularly detailed.  But it is all well-drawn and looks good as it is.  It just depends on personal taste if you will like this or not.

 

 

The characters are all quirky.  As they communicate with one another, their expressions and stances change drastically in the dialogue box to match the attitude of what is being said.  These are characters brimming with silly and exaggerated personalities, and it is expressed well through the drawings seen while they are talking.

There are some other aspects of this game’s visuals which have minimal effect on the gameplay.  For example, there is a day/night cycle which doesn’t change anything except there are a couple characters who emerge at night.  Also, it can begin raining randomly in a few areas.  Again, this doesn’t change much, but it looks nice when it happens and helps to occasionally add variety to the experience.

Finally, the game appears to run at a smooth 60 FPS with no slowdowns even during some of the more hectic stages.  I did not experience any glitches or game crashes during the time I spent with it.  Also, the game sports fast load times never taking more than a few seconds to enter or leave stages.  Also, when you die, you almost immediately respawn.  Some use of the touchscreen has been made as well.  The menus are fully touch compatible, but the gameplay does not utilize the touchscreen whatsoever.

Gameplay

This is a game heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda, and it shows.  It contains the DNA of classic Zelda games in a clear way, although it eschews some of Zelda’s classic formula.  You will explore a large overworld in a top-down perspective as you search for hidden caves with rewards for solving their puzzles, dungeons to master, crayon boxes to increase your health bar consisting of hearts, and new equipment.

The key difference between this and Zelda is every area of the map is open from the start of the game, and every dungeon can be completed in any order with just a basic stick.  This opens up a wonderful sense of exploration as you are able to take this game completely at your own pace.  You choose exactly how you want to approach your adventure in Ittle Dew 2+.  Do you want to explore each and every cave to uncover all of the secrets contained on the adventure island?  Do you want to defeat every enemy you come across or simply run past most of them?  Do you want to simply focus on the dungeons and not do anything else?  Speaking of dungeons, do you want to attempt them in their recommended order, do them from the hardest dungeon to the easiest or just randomly complete them as you encounter them?  All of these things are possible and more.  This is an adventure game where you really have total control on how you play the game.  Pick your path and go!

As you begin the game, you are equipped with nothing more than a stick.  However, starting in a place called Fluffy Fields, you really wouldn’t need much more, now would you? The enemies in the opening area of the game are relatively simply to deal with.  Most of whom need no more than between one-three attacks from your stick to go down.  As you fight them, you will find that some have attacks you will need to roll out of the way from with the ZL, ZR or R buttons.  Rolling is an invaluable technique in this game as it grants you a few frames of invincibility.  If you master the timing of this technique, you will be able to roll your way to victory from the clutches of defeat against those dastardly villains who wish to inhibit your adventure!

The difficulty curve of Ittle Dew is very reasonable provided you follow the recommended path.  The game clearly tells you where this path is by showing you the next intended dungeon on the map by marking it with a red arrow.  If you follow this path, the puzzles and enemies will never feel too overwhelming.  If you go off this beaten path, you may find yourself being beaten by a cavalcade of persistent island dwellers.  Many of the dungeons have item-specific puzzles in them which allow you to access shortcuts through them.  If you follow the recommended path, you may not have items required to use these shortcuts.  There are also other puzzles which can be solved in multiple ways if you have a variety of items.  If you only have a stick, some of these puzzle can be quite difficult to figure out.  Once you have an arsenal of items, you can use the abilities granted by these to be creative in figuring out the puzzles.  Try thinking outside the box when solving puzzles in this game!

Many of the puzzles are block-pushing puzzles where the goal is to push blocks onto pressure plates.  These start easy but become quite challenging later on in the game.  There are also quite a few puzzles where you have to activate multiple crystals by attacking them within a set amount of time.  The puzzles are all very intuitive.  They can be figured out by simply taking your time with them and observing the patterns on the screen.  If you are having trouble with a particular puzzle, take advantage of the open-ended nature of Ittle Dew!  Just leave and come back after you have obtained some new items.  Perhaps your new arsenal will give you some new ideas to try to get around it.

As you explore the island, you will come across some green portals and pink restore points.  The portals will take you back to a hub town of sorts in Fluffy Fields.  These are incredibly useful as you will want to be able to travel around the island quickly and easily.  The portals do not have any signs indicating which place they will take you after you have activated them.  Initially it appears to be an oversight and that you will just have to guess and memorize it.  However, this itself is a puzzle, so I will leave it to you to figure out how to navigate the portals when you play the game yourself.  When you find a portal on a stage, it will always have a pink square next to it with a plus sign.  This is the aforementioned restore point.  When you step on it, it will completely restore your health, and when you die, you will respawn at that point.

There are many caves on the island to discover as you explore.  Some of them are clearly out in the open while others can only be accessed after solving a puzzle.  Those are referred to as “secret, optional caves”.  You can find maps to these caves which will mark them on your map but do not indicate how to access them.  You may also talk to the many non-hostile NPCs on the map.  They give you hints which can help you find and enter these caves.  The optional caves often have useful items hidden in them past some of the more challenging puzzles in the game, so they are generally worth seeking out and completing.  Another useful kind of cave in the game will help you travel the island.  These are the transport caves where you enter in one place and come out in another.  Use these caves and the portals to easily navigate the island.  This is extremely useful as it encourages the player to explore freely.

The other big feature of the game are its dungeons.  There are a total of 8 main dungeons and four optional dungeons in the game.  They are wonderfully unorthodox in a way perfectly befitting the whacky and silly nature of the game.  Ranging from a pillow fortress “suitable for adventurers of all experience levels” to a brilliant art gallery where art installations are the dungeons puzzles, Ittle Dew 2+ never repeats an idea twice.  I won’t go much deeper into the dungeons in this review as I don’t want to spoil them for new players.

As you explore, you will encounter a multitude of creative enemies.  One of my personal favorites was a strongman cactus in a flower pot which flexed its muscles and grunted while shooting out a cascade of cactus needles in all directions.  As you fight these enemies, you will need to memorize their attack patterns to judge the best way to approach them and which items would be best utilized to defeat them efficiently.  You do not gain any experience and the game has no leveling system for your character, but the enemies do occasionally drop temporary power ups and health-restoring hearts.  Most enemies can be bypassed though, and rooms where enemies must be killed to unlock a door need only be defeated once.  After that, the door remains unlocked and you can just run past them when you come back.

 

What better strategy than to walk up and whack ’em with your stick?

 

value

Ittle Dew 2+ is not particularly innovative.  Ultimately, it is a well-done Zelda clone.  It may not be to the lofty level of A Link to the Past, but it is still a very enjoyable and polished, humorous adventure.  It is a game that you can take at your own pace, and is one that can be enjoyed by people of all ages thanks to its wonderful humor.  Its satire of classic adventure game tropes will appeal to older fans of the genre.

There is a lot of replay value because of the fact that it can be replayed in any order.  By simply setting out in a different direction from Fluffy Fields in one playthrough from the last, you can end up with a fairly different experience.  The main draw to its replayability is that the game tracks your best completion time, and it also shows you the current world record.  Unfortunately, there are no leader boards, so you can’t compare directly with other players or your friends to see where you stand.

Your first time through the game will take you between 7-10 hours unless you choose to go directly to the dungeons and forego exploring the islands many secrets.  You can expect around 15-20 hours if you try finding all of the secrets and complete the optional dungeons.  Another thing to note is that this version of the game costs an additional $10 over the PC version, but it also includes an additional five dungeons.  Overall, your opinion on how worthwhile the game is depends on how much you like replaying a game.  If you want a long, story-driven experience for $30, this might not be your game.  However, if you like playing a puzzling adventure game multiple times while experimenting, improving your playtime and approaching it in whatever what you see fit, then Ittle Dew 2+ will be a perfect fit for you.