The Swords of Ditto Preview
We all know what it feels like to be the hero of legend, the only one who can rise up to defeat evil in the face of adversity and come out on top, but what about when failure has very real consequences? Developer Onebitbeyond has given us one of the most addictive, loveable, and interestingly challenging adventure titles in quite a while, namely; The Swords of Ditto. Having played an earlier model of the game back at PAX West 2017, I was eager to get my hands on the game as soon as possible.
Taking place on the island of Ditto, players awaken to find out they are the prophesized hero of legend! Retrieving the mighty sword, you’ll get a time limit on how many days you have to prepare before your final encounter with the villainous Mormo. The time limit will vary depending on the difficulty you choose, with the “Relaxed” mode offering you a full week. Swords of Ditto is a love letter to the classic Legend of Zelda games, with a top down camera angle, loads of puzzle-filled dungeons, and a wide variety of tools to use in every situation. Each time you come back as a new Sword, the procedurally generated map will only have a few constants – certain buildings it must have and some other far more interesting structures and landmarks that I won’t spoil for you.
“If you manage to make it to the end of the week and complete all of the dungeons, you’ll enter the final encounter with Mormo feeling like a certified bad-ass.”
Combat feels just like A Link to the Past, however in lieu of a shield which was mostly ornamental in that game, Swords of Ditto offers a dodge roll which is vital for survival. You’ll also find, buy, and collect a number of stickers through-out the world which can be placed on your gear for added bonus effects. If you manage to make it to the end of the week and complete all of the dungeons, you’ll enter the final encounter with Mormo feeling like a certified bad-ass. My first time heading into Mormo’s Tower saw me with a 33% health regeneration rate, 70% boost to Ether damage (one of the elemental types in the game) as well as a ton of other buffs that made me feel like a real hero of the realm.
My time with Swords of Ditto did suffer from frame rate issues as the number of enemies in the area increased, reaching a point of near-unresponsiveness when encountering over a dozen enemies at a time. This kind of situation didn’t pop up often, but when it did it was easier to just leave the area altogether and come back. Also due to the procedurally generated nature of the game, I encountered a few odd bugs that – while not game breaking – were disappointing as they adversely affected some of my attempts to take on Mormo. On two different adventures, when exploring a dungeon to destroy an artifact that holds some of Mormo’s power – an act that will weaken her in the end – switches were unresponsive in opening doors. On one such occasion ,I was trapped in a room until I rebooted the game and it warped me to the entrance, upon which I tried it again and it still would not open.
“The more you accomplish, the more connected you’ll feel to your hero and the more devastating it will be if you fail.”
While it’s disappointing, I chose to look at it in a more positive light and use it as part of the narrative – not everything can go the way of the hero; why should it be easy? Maybe this time the door simply wouldn’t open and I would have to live with the consequences. Aesthetically, Swords of Ditto is beautiful. It holds an innocent, Saturday morning cartoon vibe with colors that pop and a soundtrack that surprisingly stayed with me when I wasn’t playing – particularly the dungeon music. All of this adorable and cutesy appearance hides the very real fact that this is a game of skill with an overarching time limit to try and prepare for an epic battle. Enemies can do serious damage, and without the right stickers to help, you’ll fall much faster than you think. It’s a challenging game but one that inspires you to try harder; the more you accomplish, the more connected you’ll feel to your hero and the more devastating it will be if you fail.
I could go on about Swords of Ditto and all the nuances it includes: the upgrade system, the regeneration of the town, and so much more, but to make a decision now before the final version of the game releases would be insulting to the creativity and wonder the game provides. Swords of Ditto has a surprisingly rich mythology and narrative which makes the game infinitely playable, a fact I learned the hard way as I have struggled to put the controller down. With some frame rate issues and the odd door bug, Swords of Ditto is shaping up to be a must-have for adventurers, and given that a full week’s playthrough only takes a few hours, it makes this an incredibly accessible game for busy gamers. Here’s hoping Swords of Ditto finds its way onto the Switch where it could truly be at home.