Ittle Dew – PC
Release Date (NA): July 23, 2013
Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10 – Average
Never have I played a game that sums itself up so well right in the title. Sonic the Hedgehog may be fast, but being fast isn’t all there is to it. Portal centers around using portals to solve puzzles, but what truly makes that game is the atmosphere it sets. When it comes to Ittle Dew, though? Try saying the name out loud a couple of times, and you’ll have my feelings about this game at the best of times.
Ittle Dew’s titular protagonist and her companion, a fairy/weasel hybrid named Tippsie, wash up ashore of an island while in search of treasure and adventure. The duo explore a tutorial cave and meet up with an item shop owner named Itan, who runs the only shop on the island, just off the road to the gigantic money-filled castle.
Itan offers to sell them special items to get through the castle, but they’ll need money from the castle to pay for them. If they can get to the artifact in the deepest part of the dungeon, he’ll even make them a raft so they can get back to adventuring afterwards.
Thus, the story of Ittle Dew is set. Ittle and Tippsie are stranded because they got bored and went out for aimless adventure, and got themselves shipwrecked. No princesses, stolen treasures, nor even memorable villainous plots here. It’s a little frustrating, really, even if “Adventure!” is the whole reason why some players may be here.
Ittle Dew‘s gameplay is a formulaic copy of two dimensional Zelda games, note for note; you even start out with a wooden stick for a weapon, much like Link started out with a wooden sword in his debut game. Since it’s copying this formula, doing little to truly innovate, it can range from somewhat enjoyable to simply dull depending on the section you’re in.
Aside from the main castle, there are three story-requisite dungeons that you’ll end up going to. You can visit these in any order, so long as you can collect the money to visit a dungeon in the order you want to. To go to a dungeon, you bring the money to Itan to buy one of his items and he sends you flying to the dungeon to retrieve your purchase.
Every time you go to a new dungeon, any items you’ve collected beforehand are taken from you; this allows for this free choice of dungeon order without letting the player cheat their way through with past items, but it also may feel like the game’s taken what you’ve earned away. When you get back to the shop, you can pick up your lost loot in the garbage can outside Itan’s shop… jerk.
There are other small puzzle rooms scattered across the land, and treasure chests in the castle that don’t have money in them. At this point there are three things you could come across: a scrap of paper, a map piece, or a card. Scraps of paper are Ittle Dew’s equivalent to heart pieces from later Zelda titles, as gathering four of them lets Ittle scribble on another heart, giving her four more hit points. The game itself points out that this doesn’t really make sense, but doesn’t give any justification for it.
Map pieces show more of the unexplored parts of the castle, making them useful for helping find your way around. The map itself is pretty clear and well-detailed, showing locked and unlocked paths between rooms and some details of each room; every treasure chest is displayed on the castle map, even if you haven’t been in the room or found the relevant map piece.
Cards, on the other hand, are completely useless in terms of gameplay. They have a picture of a character, typically an enemy, the character’s name, and a little quip, description, or joke relevant to the character featured on the card. They can be amusing sometimes, but it’s not really worth going out of your way unless you’re a completionist. Naturally, you can’t really tell a chest’s contents without solving the puzzle and opening it, unless it’s a money chest.
With this sequence-variable approach and the various scattered rooms, as well as one or two bonus dungeons to be found, you could say that Ittle Dew has replay value. Technically.
Ittle Dew uses a cartoon art style that strikes me as very reminiscent of child cartoons of the late 1990s and early 2000s, particularly those like Ed, Edd n Eddy. It gets across what things are most of the time, though there is the occasional moment where you’ll have to think about it.
The music for Ittle Dew is there. It sure is there. I barely registered it as I was playing, and while I remember that it existed and that it wasn’t awful to listen to, it failed to actually impress. There wasn’t a real mood of adventure to the songs, and that’s probably the biggest thing that it could have brought to help shore up Ittle Dew’s performance.
The only aspect of Ittle Dew that appeals to me is the humor, and even that ends up hit-or-miss a lot of the time. It pokes fun at conventions of the formula it uses, as well as trying to get laughs with situations or dialogue. They try, but it just seems odd or pointlessly silly and strange instead of funny a lot of the time.
Sometimes when you run into a new monster, whether it’s a boss or a minion, a short trade of dialogue happens. This is almost always another attempt at humor by the game’s creators, and as with the rest of the humor it tends to fall a bit flat. Three or four of the monsters are purple-skinned girls in pajama-like costumes, which seems a bit lazy itself. A few enemies do show interesting design, but it’s rare.
Ittle Dew is a strange little creature among games, and one that is a bit strange to approach. As a parody of the game variety it uses, it’s interesting. As a game in and of itself? Well… Ittle Dew’s title and dialogue suggests that Ludosity was aiming for mediocrity on some level. I guess I have to commend them on achieving the goal they set; I just wish that the goal in and of itself was commendable.
If you’re looking for a game that pokes fun at 2-D Zelda and Zelda-like game conventions, this just might scratch that itch. If you really just need something to do to kill time, though, I’m pretty sure there are cheaper or similarly-priced options that do the job more effectively. Hopefully the sequel, which is already in development, will be better.
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