The Swords of Ditto

Save the world, one bite-sized Zelda dun­geon at a time, writes Ju­lian Rizzo-Smith

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The Swords of Ditto is a mi­cro ac­tion RPG in­spired by the vis­ual fun aes­thetic of Satur­day morn­ing car­toons and the puzzle-solv­ing dun­geons of The Leg­end of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It’s de­scribed by game de­signer Sam Robin­son as a con­densed ver­sion of a Zelda ex­pe­ri­ence, last­ing around three to four hours long.

The game is de­signed with a pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated over­world map, so dun­geons, gad­gets, even NPCs can be lo­cated in ran­domised spots each run.

“Ev­ery time you play [or die], the world’s ran­domised, your char­ac­ter is ran­domised and you [be­gin your jour­ney again] stuck on the is­land of Ditto,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Robin­son, the per­madeath fea­ture plays a role in the game’s lore, too. You be­gin the game wak­ing up in a far­away beach house on the is­land of Ditto, tasked to pull out a sword from in­side an elab­o­rately de­signed sword-shaped shrine to the past he­roes (and your past lives). As a child of prophecy, you’re des­tined to save the is­land from a cursed by an evil spirit: mon­sters and crit­ters roam the lands and the only way to re­store peace is to com­pete in the spirit’s tri­als and games.

“There’s this an­cient Mayan-like civil­i­sa­tion that love toys and have cre­ated these whole dun­geons based around us­ing a cer­tain gad­get,” said Robin­son. “These are meant to be short cere­bral dun­geons that aren’t too chal­leng­ing.”

Dur­ing my twenty minute coop demo, we ven­tured through a dun­geon that re­quired a re­tractable throw­ing vinyl record. Us­ing the record, I’d pick up flames from a lit torch to light nearby ones. In an­other, we in­ter­acted with tac­tile plates on the floor and switches to de­ac­ti­vate sets of spike traps, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with my co-op part­ner to set of se­ries of switches to progress.

There’s a highly en­dear­ing charm to the world of Ditto. Each of your gad­gets are quirky in­ter­pre­ta­tions of real world items and can be used in com­bat, in­clud­ing a gi­ant yeti foot rain­ing from the sky that knocks out en­e­mies, a golf club that knocks them back, and a silly nerf gun for long-range at­tacks. Re­viv­ing an ally is an­i­mated by one player rush­ing over to­wards the fallen one, hug­ging them tightly and ex­pand­ing their love heart till it fills the en­tire screen. The world of Ditto is colour­ful and fun; it doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously and is made for both chil­dren and adults to en­joy.

Although not fully avail­able in the demo, you can mod­ify your stats us­ing stick­ers found in the world, tak­ing packs of them to mer­chants to open.

“Stick­ers might give you faster re­gen at night-time or in­creased sword range,” said Robin­son. “You can ap­ply stick­ers to all one slot, like to your armour or weapon.”

Onebit­be­yond is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing for PC and PlayS­ta­tion 4, and when asked if it’ll come to the Nin­tendo Switch, Robin­son said that he’d like to but it wasn’t a pri­or­ity. Still, play­ing this with a PlayS­ta­tion 4 con­troller, I couldn’t help but imag­ine it work­ing very or­gan­i­cally with the Switch’s porta­bil­ity.

Ven­tur­ing deep into the dark and spooky cave, our hero came face to face with a gi­ant pussy­cat.

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