Nintendad

[Review] The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: onebitbeyond
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Release Date: 23/04/2019
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by: Devolver Digital

Time after time

The Swords of Ditto borrows a lot from the Legend of Zelda. The comparisons between a Link to the Past are instantly apparent but dig a little deeper and there is an underlying theme that runs parallel to Link’s very own adventures. Good VS Evil  moreover the perpetual cycle of Good VS Evil. 

Sword of Ditto is that most precarious of things, a rogue like. Now, roguelike dungeon crawlers are ten a penny across the eshop, but the idea of a Zelda-esque action adventure roguelike had me instantly intrigued.

Did Sword of Ditto have me hookshot, line and sinker? Or was I urgently playing the Song of Time to recover the days I lost to it? Read on, or skip to the end, to find out.

Play the game

Game play in Sword of Ditto blends traditional, top down action adventure with rogue like elements. As somebody who adores the first but has an abhorrence towards the latter; the real lack of progression stopping me from ever fully embracing the game play style, I went in not fully knowing how much enjoyment I would be able to take from Sword of Ditto. As it turns out, a fair bit actually.

The game begins with you heading to fight the big bad, Mormor. Unsurprisingly to nobody, given the fact that this is the first action of the game, you are swiftly and effortlessly defeated. After your untimely demise within Sword of Ditto’s opening moments, the roguelike elements come into effect in full swing. Unfortunately your characters death was permanent, however 100 years have since passed and the sword has once again called upon the spirit of the hero to save the day and once again thwart Gannondorf’s nefarious behaviour…. wait….

The unique hook in Sword of Ditto is that the titular sword is the one constant through out. With each death the XP added to your sword will remain, allowing you to level it enough in order to attempt to defeat Mormor once again. When you do die, you will be offered the chance to save some of your items and stickers, using the premium currency which are gems. The cost is higher the better the item but anything purchased will be carried over to your next protagonist.

Please sir can I have some more? Mormor?

In the initial run, Mormor is level 6, so you aim to get your sword to that level before taking Mormor on. The chances of success are slim though, I didn’t even make it to the boss fight, instead dying to one of the high level enemies found in her tower. The first successful run was on my second attempt, my sword far more powerful than it had previously been and the tower proved no particular hassle, and Mormor herself offering a perfectly cromulent level of challenge.

Upon defeating her though the game really flipped the script. As I uncorked the metaphorical champagne, ready to revel in the spoils of my victory, the perpetual cycle continued. Instead of the world falling into darkness awaiting a new Sword of Ditto, the world enjoyed 100 years of prosperity, before Mormor herself was reborn.
And thus, in the words of Brendan Rodgers, we go again!

If looks could kill…

Sword of Ditto looks like a cartoon network animated show, something akin to Dexter’s Laboratory. The animations are all smooth and fluid and the game really shines due to the artistic direction. The game is naturally very colourful but it has it’s darker, murkier moments too. Even in these scenarios, the game still adheres to its aesthetic and looks just as vibrant.

The games soundtrack is particularly pleasant and had some nice background music, offering ambience and setting the tone for exploration. It shines without excelling, which works really well. It’s there, but it doesn’t overpower proceedings and subsequently doesn’t steal centre stage. On top of the soundtrack, the sound effects are entertaining and varied and further add to proceedings.

The curious case of Benjamin Framerate…

Unfortunately, performance of Sword of Ditto isn’t flawless. Load times seem to linger just a moment too long and when there is a lot going on, frame rate can really stutter. Aside from that though, I didn’t really find too much wrong from a technical perspective and everything was for the most part was smooth both docked and in handheld.

The dungeons in Sword of Ditto were in truth a little lacklustre, most likely a result of the procedural generation, meaning puzzles were obsolete and it was simply a case of navigating the rooms, clearing out the enemies and collecting the treasure at the end. I did like the fact that at the start of every cave or dungeon there was a bot that would inform you of the active modifier for the particular dungeon. These ranged from ‘damage dealt drains SP’ to ‘pierce damage is doubled’. It added an extra layer to proceedings but despite this mechanic, dungeons still felt like the weakest part of this adventure.

Much like Breath of the Wild, there are 4 dungeons scatterd around the land that act as Mormor’s Anchors. Take them out within the 3 day cycle and your chances against vanquishing Mormor will be greatly improved. Of course, should you not wish too, or if you simply rather the challenge afforded by leaving them active, you can utterly dismiss them and spend your time doing other tasks instead.

Conclusion

Sword of Ditto: Mormor’s Curse is a strange one to call. The idea of a roguelike Zelda-esque title will certainly appeal to a lot of people, but in the opinion of this humble hack, the absolute best feeling in the world is playing through A Link to the Past and doing absolutely eveything – from uncovering all of the secrets the game world has to offer, to collecting all the unique items. Sword of Ditto doesn’t offer that, but what it does offer is a decent top down action adventure game with a good amount of replay value, all presented in a tasty looking package.

Pros

  • Looks absolutely lovely
  • Offers a unique twist on the classic top down formula
  • Dialogue and writing of NPC’s is top drawer

Cons

  • No definite sense of progress
  • Dungeons are dull and insipid
  • Loading times can be a chore
  • Frame rate can really suffer from a busy screen

Verdict
Sword of Ditto: Mormor’s Curse is an unique top down action adventure which is, whilst certainly not perfect, filled with charm, humour and enough positives to outweigh the flaws
3.5/5
Fifield

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