Ittle Dew 2 Review – Indie Adventure At Its Finest
Ludosity and Nicalis’ Ittle Dew 2 is an admirable effort to make the next Zelda – no small feat. Although it may not completely fill those shoes, it more than scratches that adventure-based itch.
The original Ittle Dew holds a special place in my family’s heart. Not only did my love of Nintendo’s Zelda series draw me to the title, my grandmother also enjoyed it. Needless to say, Ittle Dew 2 had big shoes to fill.
Ittle Dew 2 starts where its predecessor ends, with the hero Ittle and her fox floating on a raft. Wasting no time, they crash into an island and set off on their adventure. The scope of the game is on point – rather than spending hours on tutorials and exposition, this title immediately sends you on your way to adventure. Subtle hints and a map with a marker lead you to where you need to go, but the world is completely open to explore. Armed with a stick, a buddy fox, and a map, it is up to the player to find where to go next. Ittle Dew 2’s creativity shines here with its first dungeon being a literal “pillow” fort. Though this may imply that this area is soft and easy, this dungeon doesn’t disappoint, and eases the player in with simple puzzles.
After a couple of dungeons, I did a little sidetracking and found a puzzle maze. Another aspect where Ittle Dew 2 excels is in its optional puzzles and dungeons. Hidden caves literally cover the map, each filled with secret items and life containers in the form of crayons. Each pack of crayons adds a quarter of health, increasing your total stamina. Items are also available that increase the damage output of your weapons.
Although my playthrough of Ittle Dew 2 lasted around eight hours, I felt like I just scratched the surface. Even after writing this review, there were still secrets that needed to be uncovered. Hidden maps and secret caves offered upgrades to different items not necessarily required to complete the game.
Tools in Ittle’s arsenal also tap into this title’s creative spirit. A sword extender chain (which extends into a larger sword), an ice block creator, a push rod that moves objects (and dishes out damage), and a stick of dynamite are just a few that stand out. What set these items apart was that they could be used together to solve puzzles, something I felt that was very gratifying.
While exploring, I found my way to the entrance of a dungeon not marked on my map. The traditional “fire” dungeon is even noted by your fox as a token fire dungeon in this type of game. This dungeon was a noticeable (but welcome) spike in difficulty. Here I found my first enemy that wasn’t outright killable, as well as obstacles that required more than simple strategic movement. In Ittle Dew 2, the controls almost directly resemble the top-down Zelda games, albeit with a new roll ability. The roll is essential in making it past spikes and enemy attacks, and becomes a critical part of the game.
Since the world is open for Ittle to explore, the player is made aware early on that all dungeons can be completed with just the items you enter with. Put simply, if you can enter it, you can beat it. While this helps replayability tremendously, my initial playthrough was met with a good amount of difficulty in the later stages of the game. Whether I was underpowered or not is unknown to me, as I did not complete every side dungeon and don’t know if armor or potions are available.
Shortcuts are available in dungeons but certain items (obtained by completing dungeons out of order) are required to utilize these shortcuts. I’m impressed at the level of polish that went into the playability and puzzles in this game, as both the puzzles and the items have an incredible amount of depth.
My complaints for Ittle Dew 2 are few: a few dungeon bosses are reused (albeit with different weapons), and late game balancing seemed rough. I can’t verify that a playthrough would be easier for anyone else, but the difficulty spike is unreal in the final dungeon. Nowhere within the game did I find the ability to replenish health via a potion, nor armor that allowed me to take less damage. Certain enemies within this dungeon were so hard that difficult that it almost felt like luck was needed to beat them.
Ittle Dew 2 feels like a focused and expert approach to making a Zelda game. What Ludosity was able to accomplish here felt like the developers had a level of understanding of the gameplay on par or even better than some of Nintendo’s offerings. Fluid gameplay, challenging dungeon crawling, incredible replayability, and satisfying progression make the experience a very satisfying one. Fans of the genre – and even my grandmother – would get a kick out of Ittle and her adventures.