Review: Ittle Dew 2

The original Ittle Dew was a pleasant little surprise a few years ago. It was a bit of a hit on the OUYA and later found a home on PC, where fans looking for an overhead Legend of Zelda-style game found one while Wii U owners seeking more Zelda thrills could get them there too. It was a good game overall — but one that was rough around the edges. It had some game-crashing bugs, long load times and iffy controls. The adventures of Ittle and her assistant Tippsie were a laugh riot, though, and made going through the dungeons a lot of fun. The main selling point of Ittle Dew was its humor, which helped set it apart from the pack. Now, Nicalis is back with another adventure for the brave duo.

After leaving their last adventure on a boat, they’ve found themselves shipwrecked on an island and wouldn’t you know it — they’ve got a build a new raft with eight pieces found from various dungeons! Everything that made the prior game work is here, but refined to feel more polished. The core Legend of Zelda formula is adhered to — perhaps a bit too strictly in some regards, for dungeons, but gameplay out of a dungeon is more open and free. You can talk to everyone on the island, heed advice, avoid it, smash up rooms and even get a thank you for “cleaning” by destroying everything. It’s definitely a bit odd, but it does work well at giving this world a sense of levity that is missing from the LoZ games.

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There is a greater emphasis here on puzzle-solving outside of dungeons, and far fewer fetch quests. Given how grating those can be, this does speed the space up quite a bit. Small mini-dungeons also help break things up and allow you to stay sharp on your combat and evasion skills between dungeons. Brain teasers are also hidden alongside secret items that will give you boosts and access to things like more health or other items that you can buy.  Ittle Dew 2  changes up the regular Zelda formula a bit by encouraging open world exploration and trying out dungeons before you’re entirely ready for them.

Will this result in a quick death? Absolutely — until you get a few power-ups and upgrades and then you’re ready to go. You can sequence break if you want to, or just play the game in the usual “dungeon one, two, and so on” setup if you want. Having that freedom is nice though and you will learn quite a bit about the mechanics just dipping your toe into the deep end of the pool. Evasion is a breeze with the roll, while just attacking is easy with a wide sword strike. Poor Ittle may never escape Link’s shadow in a green outfit, but she can sure give him a run for his money when it comes to comedy. She breaks the fourth wall a lot and points out many tropes within the Zelda-style sub-genre and it usually works well.

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Having humor injected into all of the dialogue makes boss battles more entertaining because they engage you in back and forth banter — which is good, because the core game itself doesn’t break much new ground. Beyond the usual short-range sword, you’ll also unlock things like magical fireballs to attack enemies from afar and even bounce things off of other things to solve puzzles. Mixing up short and long-range combat will mean the difference between death and survival — especially in later dungeons where you’ll have more enemies coming at you at one time. Early on, you can just stick to one-dimensional combat and be okay, but it’s better to be more diverse whenever you can be.

Ittle Dew 2‘s scope is much larger than the original game – and gives you eight dungeons to play through instead of the original’s four. The puzzles still rely on a lot of block manipulation, but don’t just revolve around pushing them. The original was too heavy on that, while the sequel gives you far more combat to enjoy and more timing-based block puzzles. They can be tricky, but Tippsie is actually useful and does give you some sound advice on how to solve a puzzle. He’ll even let you know if you’re properly equipped to solve it or not — saving you valuable time in the long run.

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Visually, Ittle Dew 2 goes beyond what the original game gave you. ID was a good-looking, but simple game with its cartoon style. Now, a lot of shading and gradient work has been done to breathe more life into the game’s world. With that game primarily being made for mobile and then being ported elsewhere, the fairly simple graphics made sense and were far from bad — but you could tell that they could be better. The sequel beefs up the visuals in the right ways by accentuating what worked before. Things like additional effects on the flames and increased lighting effects make this adventure seem that much more dangerous since it throws even more at you visually.

Musically, this is a phenomenal game. While it doesn’t do much new gameplay-wise, the music does take a more chipper tone than Zelda games and is a joy to listen to even outside of it. The fast-paced music in dungeons gets your blood pumping, while soothing music outside of it alternates between slow and relaxing and medium-tempo to keep you engaged. There isn’t a bad song in the bunch, and that’s rare nowadays. The sound effect work is solid, but does seem a bit generic too. Everything sounds like it should — so a fireball sounds like one, but there’s no real impact to them so attacks can ring a bit hollow.

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Closing Comments:

Ittle Dew 2 isn’t perfect, but does smooth out of some of the rough edges of its predecessor. It doubles the length and improves the overall combat and traversal, but still feels hollow as an overall experience. It does find a far better mix between combat and puzzles this time around, and looks far better too. The increased graphics add a touch more life to things, while the ever-changing soundtrack encompasses several genres and remains fun to listen to in or outside of the adventure. What the game lacks in depth, it almost completely makes up for in sheer fun — but it is a flawed experience to be sure. Those seeking something Zelda-esque will be left satisfied, but not blown away by the experience.

Summary
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Ittle Dew 2