The Swords Of Ditto
If Ouroboros remade The Legend of Zelda
We love the clever concept that underpins The Swords Of Ditto. We’re fans of the game’s many cool ideas. The catch, though, is that we’re not sure that those ideas and that concept quite find themselves in equilibrium.
The Swords Of Ditto opens with you washing up on the shore of a beach, à la Link’s Awakening. That’s a signal that the game owes a big debt to The Legend of Zelda series: 2D sword-based combat, tools that can be unlocked by completing puzzle-filled dungeons, and a reality where slashing away at small clumps of grass is a viable way of earning money. The twist here is that after four days of exploring the game’s compact world, you will be forced into a confrontation with the final boss: an evil witch named Mormo. If she defeats you (and she will), you take control of a new hero on a remixed map 100 years in the future, grab the eponymous Sword Of Ditto from the grave of your predecessor and start all over again.
Much of Swords Of Ditto is about timemanagement, then. Should you focus on collecting cash that will be passed on to the next hero, or spend it all to give yourself the best chance of taking Mormo down? Do you have time to explore, or should you focus on completing the dungeons that will remove Mormo’s ‘anchors’, weakening her for your next fateful encounter? Those decisions become more interesting as the game progresses and you unlock the ability to carry over items to the next run and rewind time, the latter making failed runs far less annoying than they can be in the early going.
Less annoying, but still annoying. New dungeons are procedurally generated, but the relatively shallow ideas they use are repetitive and the bosses are too similar, so redoing key dungeons that were enjoyable the first time around can feel like a chore. Swords Of Ditto’s simple combat becomes increasingly compelling as you gain new tools to add variety to the slash, roll and repeat formula that forms its foundations – a golf club that you can use to thwack enemies off of ledges and into the abyss is one of our favourites – but get killed and lose those options and combat becomes boring again until you get some of those tools back. That’s Swords Of Ditto’s fundamental problem: it is fun, but too often you have to push through limitations and repetition to find that fun. At times, you wonder whether the game wouldn’t be better as a more traditional Legend Of Zelda-style RPG and that tells you that the balance isn’t quite right when it comes to its rogue-like elements.
The experience of playing The Swords Of Ditto is as cyclical as the story it tells. It contrives to frustrate you, but then it reminds you that it can be enormous fun. It turns you off from playing it with a bad idea, then impresses you with a good one. Then it does it all over again.
The roguelike elements that The Sword Of Ditto mixes in with the more traditional Legend Of Zelda-like exploration should work well together, and often do, but sometimes the balance is way off.
details Publisher devolver digital Developer One Bit Beyond PSN Price £15.99 Players 1-2