GAME NAME: Ittle Dew
GENRE(S): Adventure, Puzzler, Indie
RELEASE DATE(S): July 23rd, 2013
If you took a glance at the screenshots and thought, “Hm. This game looks kinda like Zelda“, you wouldn’t be far off. This indie title, from the Swedish group Ludosity, has the same sort of top-down, dungeon-crawling gameplay you would expect from one of Link’s adventures, but it also strives to have its own identity, and a likable one at that.
Playing your Dews
The game’s story… er… well, there isn’t much to tell, really. You play a girl named Ittle and her fairy-winged weasel/fox-thingie companion, Tippsie, who find themselves shipwrecked and land up on an island full of caves, treasures and absurdities. In short order, the duo are acquainted with Itan, a shopkeeper who promises to build them a seaworthy raft in exchange for a mysterious artifact. Itan also promises the pair some better tools and weapons, for a fee of course. With no real recourse, the player accepts, and their interference in the local order of things quickly gets noticed by the resident baddies who promptly endeavor to make your life miserable. Dew doesn’t seem to grasp the dire situation entirely, as she’s more interested in random adventuring, while Tippsie’s greater sense of clarity is off-put by his irreverence and cynicism. And that’s it, really.
The game’s core is all about pushing blocks in order to solve puzzles. There are also switches on the floor that might not be immediately accessible without some re-arrangement of blocks, as well as specific block-types that require some higher methodology to move or break. As the game progresses, you’ll procure certain items that are needed to tackle certain puzzles; indeed, some previous-blocked areas will become accessible, so backtracking is not only implemented but occasionally necessary. Fortunately, the player is never left to blind luck, as Ittle will be informed if she possesses all the items necessary to complete a particular puzzle.
Chip off the Old Block
Ittle is initially armed with only a stick, and it’s essential-yet-insufficient in her block-pushing escapades. Before too long, she’ll be equipped with a fire sword that instantly sets things alight and melts pesky ice blocks that were previously unbreakable. Speaking of which, ice blocks will be a source of constant frustration, as they appear rather frequently and have the nasty habit of sliding into corners, making them irretrievable. They may also slide over spikes and reach otherwise inaccessible areas, so they’re an ugly necessity. Besides ice blocks, players will encounter bombs which sometimes set off chain reactions. These may or may not have the desired effect, so placing them just right becomes a matter of precision. Besides the fire sword, players will also eventually be equipped with a block-transporting wand, as well as an ice wand that allows you to freeze bombs and enemies.
Although fairly limited, this item-set offers the game a staggering amount of different puzzle combinations. Unfortunately, it all starts to get slightly monotonous after a while; locales aren’t really as varied as they should be, and changes in design, as well as new items, don’t occur as often as they should. Luckily, Ittle Dew spoils the player for choice by offering them a less linear gaming experience. The overworld is mostly open to exploration and levels may be tackled in whatever order the player chooses, while some puzzles are entirely optional and relevant only to the most obsessive of completionists.
A Link to the Past
While the Zelda influence is most prominent, it’s apparent from the get-go that this is also fundamentally a Sokoban tribute with obvious RPG and Metroid influences. It’s also a parody of these kinds of games and their associated conventions, albeit a tasteful one; the game is a fan project that never believes itself to be superior to the source material. The humor is clever, cute, relevant and never overdone, and it’s actually well-written, rather than just being a series of non-sequiturs. From Tippsie pointing out that eating hearts off the floor is “kinda gross”, to the baddies plotting your demise because you stole their lunch money, it’ll leave players amused for much of the journey.
The art direction really shines, as everything in the game world is colourful, detailed and has a wonderful cartoon aesthetic, complete with slightly squiggly animation. The look of the enemies is rather amusing, with their angry faces and cheap costumes, while the locales ooze personality and vibrance. The sound, however, is largely forgettable, but it gets the job done. The dialogue will leave players wondering just how it would sound exactly with professional voice actors!
I honestly didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did. At first, it seemed like another game which should have rather been released on the Play/Apple App Store than the PC, but it wasn’t long before the humor, cute graphics and mind-flexing puzzles made me realize how well developed it is, and what a joy it is to play. Get it, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised too.