You don’t have to look too hard at The Swords of Ditto to see just how much inspiration it draws from classic Zelda games. The 3-hit combo sword attacks, projectile use for combat and puzzles and the side-swiping world aesthetic all helped whisked me back to the joyous feeling of being a kid lost in the world of Hyrule. But Swords of Ditto is so much more than just a Zelda clone – it graciously brings the classic gameplay feeling into modern gaming. The adorable visuals and narrative-driven rogue-lite element of the game make it stand out from almost all of the competition.
Upon starting the game for the first time you thrust into the shoes of The Sword of Ditto, a chosen hero to take down the evil witch Mormo. Your first playthrough is pretty hand-holding due to its tutorial approach. Not before too long you’ll see the hopefull Sword perish before you. This will not be the first time you’ll see your playable hero fall in The Swords of Ditto, as, well, that’s pretty much the main gameplay loop.
The Swords of Ditto is a rouge-lite and not a rogue-like so death doesn’t wipe every once of progress from you playthrough, just most of it. With the Sword carrying all the power and not the adventure you level will carry over between deaths, along with any currency you earn, but that’s about it. Your toys, stickers and map progress are all lost, Which bring a real risk and reward element to The Swords of Ditto.
So you probably just heard me mention toys and stickers and wondering what on earth they are. Let’s start with toys. These are best seen as different equipment to aid you in your quest to defeat Mormo. They range from things like a bow and a nerf gun up to classic Zelda style bombs. What I really liked about these toys is just how versatile they are, not only would they provide a key edge in combat but also acted as a pivotal tool in many of the game puzzle infested dungeons.
Now time for those stickers, which are best seen as abilities or buffs. Collecting these stickers as you venture through the adorable lands of Ditto will see you gain new attributes like +8% elemental damage or continuous regeneration of health. Whats great about the stickers is the sheer variety available, which brings an almost RPG element to The Swords of Ditto, allowing you to create an adventure to suit your playstyle. Without going into spoilers, later in the game, you can combine sticker to create some pretty awesome abilities or power-up, all of which play a huge advantage in overcoming the rather annoying witch Mormo.
As I previously mentioned, death brings about the loss of all your toys and stickers from that playthrough. Again, without delving into spoiler territory, later in the game you are able to choose to carry a few over with the sword, but only if you have enough of a certain currency. There’s no denying that the loss of these abilities is frustrating and annoying, but not to the game detriment. By starting fresh each time I felt the game was promoting the use of different stickers and toys, which allowed me to play around with different combination all in preparation for my mighty showdown with Mormo.
One very important part of The Swords of Ditto that I’m yet to mention is the anxious time limit the game forces upon you. Once your new, freshly faced adventurer acquires the sword you’ll have 4 days to build up an arsenal of toys and stickers, take down Mormos power-hungry alters and explore as much of the map as possible. After four days that’s it, you’ll have a showdown with Mormo whether you like it or not. This time can be brought forward, for example around 7 hours into the game I didn’t feel like I needed to grind as much as I did before as I knew exactly what loadout I wanted so I could skip forward to the showdown.
These showdowns or at least the journey to the showdowns are brilliant. While on a quest to become powerful enough to challenge Mormo you’ll play through some mini-dungeons, and again, just like original Zelda games they’re full of enemies to overcome and puzzles to solve. Mormo’s castles is basically one of these mini-dungeons but on steroids, throwing more enemies at you and even more challenging puzzles. The focus on switching between toys and combat all while trying to keep your health from vanishing provides a real challenge, but makes the completion of each room feel that much more rewarding.
There’s absolutely no way I can review The Swords of Ditto without mentioning just how stunning the game is. The map is procedurally generated with each new playthrough, but unless I told you that you’d almost never notice. Granted, the town, your home and Mormo’s castle are always in a different place, but the new environments are perfectly stitched together it’s hard to remember that they changed at all.
It’s one thing offering us an adorable world to explore and playthrough, but developers Onebitbeyond have gone the whole hog and made exploration rewarding. So often I would look at the map and think ‘I wonder whats over there’, only to find that my nosey nature has paid off with a new dungeon or another hidden secret.
The Swords of Ditto provides a challenging but rewarding adventure to anyone who is willing to embark on it. The adorable visuals and charming gameplay elements like the toys and the sticker system all help wrap you up into the world of Ditto. Granted, the continuous starting over will put some people off. But if you take a positive approach to the game and see every death as a step closer to defeating Mormo then The Swords of Ditto will whisk you off on a wonderfully nostalgic adventure.