Life has been crazy and hectic for me over the last couple of months. Moving, life changes, being sick… Pretty much, the works. When life gives you lemons, well, it helps that when you get some down time to actually work, you have gems like Ittle Dew 2 to work on and pass the time.
We start off with our heroes Ittle and Tippsie crashing onto an island, an adventure-puzzle island (of course), and they must find a way to build a new raft in order to get off said island. We play as Ittle, a young lady who loves adventuring, who is accompanied by the flying fox Tippsie (and if he’s not a flying fox, shame on me for not paying attention). Tippsie is there for quick quips and quick hints on where to go and what to do should you need a push in the right direction.
Right off the bat, the colorfulness of the game sets the tone of what you can expect during your adventure. It’s bright and cheery, and even though our heroes are in “dire straits”, that’s how they carry themselves with every encounter. It’s refreshing to have since these kinds of games typically have a more dramatic approach to them (which is fine if that’s what they’re going for, of course). Now, I’ve never played the original game in this series, so I can’t comment on that game’s art style, but apparently, from what I have seen online from fans, a good portion preferred the first game’s graphics. For me, what is offered here is perfectly fine. The cel-shading looks nice and the way the camera is situated isometrically (top down), it doesn’t showcase some of the flaws many cel-shaded games run into when the perspective is much closer. It helps the colors pop and the overall feel of the game is helped by the graphical style.
The way Ittle Dew 2 plays is like an old-school Zelda game, but more tuned for the casual adventurer. Now, that isn’t a dig on the game. Not at all. It’s fairly straight forward and doesn’t focus itself on too many things that could bog it down or disinterest players. It focuses on certain aspects of the genre and nails them. You travel an over world while searching out loot, secrets, and dungeons to progress the story and the funny.
One of the greatest things the developers Ludosity graces us with ID2 is unrelenting humor. It’s everywhere. Jokes, visual gags, 4th wall breaking (among other wall breaking), and more is waiting for you, and it’s everywhere. And if you’ve played the original game, I feel like there’s plenty of callbacks to that experience you’ll appreciate thrown in all over, too. The cast of characters you’ll come across are fun and engaging, too. I had a smile on my face for plenty of the interactions and hit that Share button often when interacting with them to screenshot the back and forth.
Moving over to the dungeon side of the things focused on, they give us the option of tackling any of the 8 main dungeons in any order, which is great for explorers and can also potentially open up shortcuts should you already possess an item that allows it. And those items can also be upgraded for greater damage or abilities down the line via secret dungeons and areas you need to seek out in the over world map. All of the dungeons have a theme, but they aren’t always the typical ones you may expect for this genre. I’ll forgo detailing any so that way you can stumble upon them and their quirks yourselves. Some are a real treat and far cry from the norm. Each dungeon is full of rooms to explore, clever puzzles to figure out, enemies to defeat, and of course, bosses, because what would this genre be without bosses to conquer at the end of a puzzle-filled dungeon trek?
As far as controlling little Ittle goes, it’s pretty simple and works fairly well. You can use the d-pad (thank you, Jebus!!) for movement, though I found some of the button placement for actions a bit out of place, and sadly, you can’t alter the controls at all. The roll button is the right shoulder button (R1 on PS4) and it just felt awkward for me to consistently use. And trust me, you’ll need to use it and use it well. I’d have preferred it be placed on R2 (or Right trigger if it’s the RB button on XB1). Now, I understand why they limit the face buttons, because they directly tie into the design of the items and weapons, but, I think it never hurts to allow a player to play the way they feel the most comfortable, even if the graphic on screen doesn’t conform. Other than that little annoyance, moving around and accessing/solving puzzles feels good other than some areas being great at getting you stuck while making sharp turns.
Musically the game hits a home run. There are many styles of music in the game and they all fit the areas they appear in well. Great variety. From hard rock to classic gaming beats, there’s plenty to love in ID2. A cool aspect they got into the game is that if you’re in the over world and dash into a cave the song that’s playing softens and acts as if it’s playing outside. It’s really neat and I feel like it’ll be lost on people if they aren’t paying attention. Sometimes it’s the little things that take good games and make them great, and there’s plenty of little touches here throughout the adventure that elevate ID2.
The adventure isn’t terribly long, though it can take over a dozen hours if you wander around, enjoy looking at the scenery (or get stuck on some mind-bending puzzles), and/or have the motivation to unlock all the Achievements/Trophies in the game. Getting stuck isn’t only relegated to puzzles, though. I had plenty of hard times facing bosses (both optional and story related). The boss fights are pretty tough in my opinion, and really made me realize what a bad ass I was as a kid memorizing boss patterns and beating games on NES and SNES. Somehow in my old age, I seem to have lost the knack of getting through them quickly on a game like this. But it was never a situation where I wanted to give up. Even though I was frustrated beyond belief sometimes, I still had the drive to fight on, even after dying for the 2,453,991th time on the same dungeon boss. And if you stick it out until the end, the finale is really fun and I appreciated the intent behind it. Hopefully, you all make it there and feel the same.
As far as Achievements/Trophies go, on PS4, there is no Platinum (booo-urns), and there are only 10 to shoot for. There’s plenty in the game that could have lent itself to an extra incentive, but, that isn’t in the cards, unfortunately. The ones we do have are typical things like collect all of (X) and beat (Y), but there are contextual ones like roll for 5 seconds straight, too. I know it’s probably tough for smaller dev teams to program in a ton of A/T, but, it’s always a great thing (and sometimes selling point for players) to have a lot to go after. Maybe if we get a 3rd title we can up the ante? 🙂
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I absolutely adore this game. It plays great, it’s really fun and funny, and doesn’t outlast it’s welcome. What it does, it does very well and kept me engaged the entire time. If you’re looking for a smaller adventure in the vain of classics like pre-Ocarina of Time Zelda and The Secret of Mana, you will find what you’re looking for here. Don’t pass this one up.