Following on from their previous release, the critically acclaimed iPad RPG ‘Magicka: Wizards Of The Square Tablet’, Swedish developers Ludosity have unleashed Ittle Dew, their charmingly silly take on the Action RPG genre. Players guide a young girl named Ittle and her winged-fox ally around a mysterious island where they have recently been shipwrecked, venturing through caves and castle ruins in search of coins and a certain artefact.
Ittle Dew draws its main influences from The Legend Of Zelda series, and makes no effort in hiding the fact that it is parody. Alongside numerous in-jokes and a health system comprised of hearts, it is clear that Ittle is designed to be highly reminiscent of Link (her tomboy appearance a reversal of Link’s feminine looks) and her companion Tippsie serves as a Navi-like guide, though is thankfully far less irritating. The art direction offers a cartoony approach, similar to the Wind Waker era of the Nintendo-owned franchise, and is absolutely gorgeous as a result. The environments and character animations are hand-drawn (giving them that ‘wobbly’ effect) and are very well designed. The enemies are particularly worth mentioning – deadly rotating turnips and vicious potted cacti are pitted against our titular hero, all the while retaining their innocent and adorable expressions.
The gameplay revolves around traversing a series of dungeons, each containing various rooms wrought with challenges that need to be overcome in order to progress. Through the use of different purchasable swords and wands, blocks of ice can be melted, and new blocks can be created from frozen enemies and through magic. These are then shunted around onto pressure plates or to make pathways along to the next area. Exiting the current room or using the relevant pause menu option resets all objects in the vicinity when you end up heaving one into a corner, which you’ll find yourself doing a lot of in the later stages.
Unfortunately, we soon discovered that Ittle Dew’s puzzles consist solely of just that: manipulating and pushing blocks. There is nothing in the way of variety like in the aforementioned Zelda series – items such as a slingshot would have greatly helped with this – and as a result, the puzzles quickly become repetitive and rather tedious. Ittle Dew also doesn’t take very long to complete, but has been crafted with competitive speedrunning in mind, complete with online leaderboards and an optional in-game timer. Not all items are necessary in finishing the main story as well, so every additional play through offers a slightly different experience from the last.
For the most part, Ittle Dew plays and controls well. However, we were sadly subjected to numerous game-breaking bugs during our time with the game. Whenever we tried to open a treasure chest containing one of the many collectable cards and advance the subsequent text, the game would freeze, and the program would have to be closed and rebooted. Eventually we realised that advancing the text with the Z key rather than ENTER would avoid this problem, but when we had used the latter method for all other text in the game without consequence it becomes a glaring oversight on Ludosity’s part. The game’s discussion board on Steam is also rife with horror stories of other players who have had game crashes when defeating the final boss and even when starting a new file. Although we didn’t share these problems, they seem to be common and serious issues, and are a stain on Ittle Dew’s reputation.
After spending a few hours in Ittle’s company, is it clear that Ludosity have done well in cheekily raising a glass to The Legend Of Zelda franchise. Unfortunately, the end result is hardly bereft of flaws. Despite coming across as a beautiful, playable and occasionally humorous piece of work, Ittle Dew is ultimately let down by repetitive puzzles and a number of game-breaking bugs.