Every now and again, a developer deigns to ape The Legend of Zelda. The series is an amalgamation of pieces that, if you don’t fit them together correctly, won’t convey that same sense of discovery, wonder and progression. There must be something magical about the sum of its parts, because few reach the same heights and those that do feel a little watered down and amiss. Where most will zig towards the Ocarina of Time methodology, Ludosity took a zag and made an homage to the original Zelda with their game Ittle Dew.
It was a fun, concise play that boiled down its experience specifically to the puzzle-laden dungeons, this time strewn about a small island. Serving more as a hub than anything else, Ittle and her drunken flying fox friend Tipsy (an inebriated hint giver a la Navi) would hop from cave to cave pushing blocks or using newly discovered tools to earn treasures that would net them a new raft for further adventuring. While small in scope, the length of the game was totally based around the tenacity of the player in figuring out how to move from room to puzzle-packed room. Even the most stalwart adventurer was likely to get hung up at some point. It took a single concept from a larger game, made it its own and wrapped a nice little bow around it.
Of course there was going to be an Ittle Dew 2.
Whereas the original Ittle Dew cribbed off of the original Zelda, Ittle Dew 2+ feels very… A Link to the Past-ish. While I miss the squiggly, hand-drawn art style of the first game, this new journey for our hapless heroine and her intoxicated helper hews closer to the cel-shaded antics of The Wind Waker. Design-wise though, this new island has dips and hills that harken back to the 16-bit world, replete with mysteriously cracked walls and hidden holes for you to discover. While the overworld feels much more elaborate and grandiose (not to mention open-ended), it too is a concise land that reigns in the profuseness for a more manageable and light experience. It’s big enough that you want to scour areas for secrets, but not so big that it drags the game on.
There are no pretenses as to what Ittle’s mission is – it’s building another raft to perhaps go and find a less eccentric island with better treasure than where she’s at now. Ittle Dew 2+ valiantly nicks the “collect 8 shards” motif of the original Zelda by asking the player to find 8 bits of a raft. Story is downplayed a bit for this sequel, but it doesn’t diminish the character within. It’s still filled with witty fourth-wall breaking dialog between Ittle and Tipsy as well as awkward conversations with the bizarre denizens of this new land.
Also worth noting is how the open-world island is handled. The original game funneled you to each new area by making them available after you’d collected your latest knickknack from the last dungeon you finished. There were a few side quests here and there that you could partake in, but for the most part it was a guided experience. Here, the entire island is available to you from the outset. Sure, there’s probably a recommended course to take, but the developers were smart to let everything be accomplished with just your stick. You still collect the baubles, but they now feel more like a cheat or break instead of a necessity. This in turn makes the puzzles variable, as having certain items can make your life easier. There is still gated content, but it’s not a necessity to finish the game.
However, this does pare down the puzzles a bit. Whereas most of the original game forced you think with what tools were available to you, here most things can be accomplished with just the stick. I don’t want to say the puzzles were designed to be easier… but they feel like they were designed to be easier. At first I was happy about it; I’d spent a good chunk of time scratching my head trying to figure things out in the original game, so the thought of feeling like a badass loomed. But after a while it began to dawn on me that I was breezing through the game much quicker than I would have otherwise. In the end it doesn’t mar the experience as a whole, but it was definitely something worth noting. If you are interested in staring at the same screen for 30-45 minutes, there is a dream level that’ll rock your little world.
Once I washed my expectations that I carried over from the first game away, Ittle Dew 2+ proved itself to be a worthy sophomore follow-up. What it lost in complexity it made up for in being a more well-rounded experience, the type of thing you’d recommend to plenty of people. Which goes without saying – if you like your Zelda-likes with a little more puzzle and a little less action, you can’t go wrong here.
Ittle Dew 2+ is available on Nintendo Switch.
Disclosure statement: Review code for Ittle Dew 2+ was provided by Nicalis. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.