Friday, July 31, 2015

Ittle Dew - Thoughts

Ittle Dew wears its inspiration on its sleeve—it's a block-pushing puzzler and it makes no qualms about it. What I didn't expect while playing was the amount of ways you can go about completing the game, and the absurdly adorable charm surrounding it. In this respect Ittle Dew has a lot more heart than you'd expect a Zelda knockoff to have, and it's worth playing as long as you don't mind perhaps the biggest adventure game taboo: missable secrets.

The game is pretty short—my total time was a little over two hours, and there's actually an achievement for finishing the game in under fifteen minutes. Despite its brevity, Ittle Dew explores its mechanics in interesting ways, ultimately giving you a thorough understanding of your inventory. The warp wand in particular feels like an ingenious item Nintendo would create, and combined with the ice wand the game can get real nasty with its puzzles. It's not an overly difficult game however—only one optional room stumped for a good ten minutes—and despite the plethora of ways to explore the castle, it's pretty simple to get to the ending. I'd best describe the game as having a comfortable level of challenge.

One of the strange things about Ittle Dew is that it prioritizes replayability over being able to 100% the game. As stated above, there's missable secrets in the form of optional paths and challenges that you'll be unable to repeat/return to once you find your way back inside the castle. But seeing as there's multiple ways to explore the stronghold and make it to the final boss, you'll be missing some way to go about the game on your first try, so it can't really be faulted for that. If anything, it's just a really unorthodox design decision that perhaps speedrunners are more inclined to enjoy.

Along with puzzles, Ittle Dew also knows how to handle humor (which is a massively uncommon occurrence in a lot of games). The drawings are lively and the writing knows its limitations, remaining kooky and offbeat without becoming annoying. The best example I have of this is during the ice wand dungeon boss's cutscene, where the titular main character has her tongue stuck onto the frozen instrument—no one brings attention to it, it only lasts a few seconds, and is never seen again. That simple gag about Dew's juvenile stupidity is quite refreshing in a community where memes and video game references are quite commonplace, especially among the indie scene. I also quite enjoyed the final boss's reasoning for building his labyrinthian lair.

While there's some combat in Ittle Dew, it's fairly rote outside of battling cacti, so it's not a game that offers much else than block pushing. But the puzzles are certainly creative, and the cartoony art style (and music!) deserves some kudos for being so pleasing to the senses. It's not necessarily a title I'm interested in a sequel for, but I'll definitely keep my eye on the developer Ludosity from now on.

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