So here’s a little thing about The Swords of Ditto that completely sold me on this game: when you’re playing co-op and one of your intrepid adventurers falls in combat, the other player can run up to them and literally hug them back to life. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?
This roguelite, cleverly disguised as a top-down Zelda-like, has you trying to rid the land of the evil sorceress Mormo. You are the chosen one, the wielder of the magical sword of Ditto, so it falls on you to end the curse and vanquish evil… except that, should you fail on your quest, another hero will rise one hundred years later and try again.
In order to stand a chance, you have to visit particular dungeons which help you by supplying you with new items (or “toys”, to be precise) or which weaken Mormo’s influence and make the final battle a little easier. However, if you just beeline to your next objective, you’re seriously missing out.
Exploring the game’s overworld is a delight, with lots of secrets to uncover and a colorful cast of characters to meet. Some of these have additional quests for you – but there’s precious little handholding involved. You can spend a lot of time exploring and gearing up for the final battle. But alas, time is in short supply.
With only four in-game days before the final battle, there is simply no way to do everything at once. Repeated playthroughs are a necessity, and some of your stuff will carry over to the next hero. Figuring out how things work, what to do, and which order to do it in is a huge part of this game.
While the lack of handholding will leave you somewhat clueless in the first few attempts, things pick up from there. The layout of the overworld changes with each playthrough, and – depending on how you did on your previous attempt – the world itself changes with it.
As you constantly fail to defeat Mormo, evil thrives and the land suffers. Things start to look more drab, people seem a little more on edge, and there are more monsters out and about. Conversely, each victory makes the world a brighter, better place.
While the roguelite aspects of The Swords of Ditto are enough to draw you in, what really makes the game shine is its style and charm. This is such an odd and lovely place, with goofy NPCs and bosses, toys, stickers, and sweets – the whole game is childlike in a good way. Simply exploring this world is a lot of fun and will put a smile on your face. And have I mentioned the kazoo? There’s a kazoo-based quick travel system. I mean, come on, that’s wonderfully silly.
You can attempt to overthrow Mormo on your own, but co-op play is also an option, and it is literally as easy as picking up a controller and just starting to play, with the option of dropping out at any time. Sure, the world needs saving, but sometimes you just want to explore said world with your kids and have a little fun… or maybe you really need help? The game lets you do all that quite effortlessly.
The Swords of Ditto can feel a little harsh and directionless, particularly in the beginning, but it’s worth sticking with it. Once you get the hang of the game, its cheery world will leave you grinning like a fool and remind you that yes, videogames are good.
You can purchase The Swords of Ditto from GOG or Steam for $19.99. The game is also available for the PS4 with some platform-specific extras. For more information, visit the game’s website and follow developer onebitbeyond on Twitter.