Ittle Dew Review
A must-buy for fans of puzzle games or Zelda games. An otherwise worthy purchase during a sale.
It’s hard not to appreciate games like Ittle Dew. Rather than chart new territory, Ludosity has created a solid Zelda send-up that focuses on charm, humor, and inspired block puzzles. While Zelda games offer up plenty of block puzzles of their own, Ittle Dew puts together some more complex challenges that will flex your mental muscle until the very end. Though an enjoyable romp, Ittle Dew’s various technical issues and finicky controls put a damper on some of the fun.
The story begins when the titular Ittle Dew washes up on the shore of an island. Adventuring into its depths, she quickly discovers it’s inhabited by a variety of monsters and an eccentric store keep, Itan. In order to escape the island Ittle requires a raft, which Itan refuses to provide until she acquires an object of his desire. The boilerplate story offers little more than a purpose for the adventure, but its construct is a perfect set up for the game’s humorous dialog and situations. Tippsie, Ittle’s seemingly alcoholic sidekick (and Navi parallel) offers some of the best comic relief and is always quick to point out the absurdity of any given situation.
Around each and every corner, Ittle Dew takes shots at both gaming and Zelda in specific, while simultaneously leveraging the tropes it mocks for its own gameplay. For instance, when you first come across hearts, Tippsie points out how gross it is that Ittle chows them down to refill her health. These little touches endear you to the game almost instantly.
Once the gameplay kicks in things remain pretty smooth, at least at first. Though Ittle Dew lifts almost everything from Zelda, it focuses predominantly on block puzzles. Combat is present, but rarely important, which is thankful since the controls are barely suitable for the combat that’s occasionally required. Completely unlike the tight control and battling in Zelda, Ittle Dew is loose and imprecise. Your short sword makes it tough to strike enemies without putting yourself in danger and the lack of enemy knockback makes it hard to fight tactfully. This makes boss battles more difficult than necessary and an often frustrating affair due to continuous deaths and retries.
However, when Ittle Dew sticks to what it knows, the results are phenomenal. Whether you’re just pushing cleverly placed blocks around (there’s no pulling) or taking use of the fire sword (or stick), ice wand, and portal block in tandem, most puzzles are extremely well put together. Furthermore, branching paths through the levels and various collectibles makes exploration fun and interesting.
While the base puzzles are a decent challenge, they won’t likely be enough to scratch the itch for veteran puzzle gamers. Thankfully each dungeon offers up a more advanced shortcut that makes it significantly tougher to advance, if you choose to stay the path. The aforementioned collectibles also provide a healthy extra helping of puzzles and exploration to find them all. Most players will want to mine this extra material because the core game will only take three to four short hours. Though on the short side, Ittle Dew wraps up just as it begins to wear its welcome.
One of the more concerning aspects of Ittle Dew is the bugs/glitches. In some instances the music cut out or a level wouldn’t load, whereas other times the game would hard freeze the system. Furthermore, the stuttering frame rate was all too common, which is a shame considering how great Ittle Dew looks in motion.
There’s no question that despite its issues I had fun with Ittle Dew. The humor and puzzles were spot on, but the game is ultimately no more than a surface copy of The Legend of Zelda. Though Ittle Dew is a largely forgettable experience, I think it’s still worth the asking price. In the end I got five to six hours of fun out of Ittle Dew, but it clearly could’ve been so much more with a little bit of polish. I’m excited to see what Ludosity has in store for us in the future, because I have confidence that the seeds of a great game developer are apparent in their first eShop title.