Game review: Swords of Ditto for Steam

I’ve put this review off for some time, playing Swords of Ditto several times and waiting for a moment when it might finally click for me and become fun. Sadly, that never happened, and I mean sadly in that I wanted to like this game. It’s a riff on Zelda with cartoony graphics and a cute soundtrack, a randomly generated game world where your weapons are “toys.” (Some really don’t qualify as toys, like vinyl records, but whatever.) Beating the game begins to unlock more characters to play through the story with, each of which has some special stat or starting toy. On paper, it sounds like a good time.

In practice, it’s just not fun. It starts with a tutorial section involving the death of your character, the eponymous Sword of Ditto. A hundred years pass and a new Sword is awakened and told how to fight against Mormo, the evil witch who is bound to the land by a curse. This is fine the first time you play, but even on a second run, it becomes annoying. It doesn’t help that even if you unlock other characters, the first run is always the same.

Combat is similarly tedious until you can manage to retrieve one or both of the toys of legend present on the island. Since few enemies are stunned by your sword’s swing, combat is essentially swing, move back, step in to swing and move back. Higher difficulty levels don’t change enemy behavior, they just nerf the sword’s damage, drawing out every fight to unbearable slowness.

You start off with a nerf gun that does no damage unless you buff it with one of several “elements.” (Fire, poison, and curse, so one element, and two other…things. Anywho…) The problem is, unless you buff the darts with fire, the other two are pretty much useless because they require a meter to build up before they proc, and that meter drains faster then you can fire. Now, later on if you dump all the possible upgrades into your gun, it might become useful. But since you’ll want to put those upgrades into the more powerful toys of legend found in the dungeons, the gun remains useless even after starting a new era.

Setting that aside, the random nature of each run means you might spawn in a world where every dungeon rewards you with money, but offers no upgrades or elements. It is still possible to beat Mormo on these runs, but it takes a lot of long tedious fights and makes them even slower.

Finding some of those toys made the very tail end of a run interesting, but once Mormo is defeated and time advances, every monster on the island advances in levels, rendering all the upgrades to a toy ineffective. So once again, the game becomes a dull slog to get upgrades before almost becoming fun right at the very end.

Another part of the problem is in how the game forces you to fight Mormo once you reach level 6. If you started out slaying monsters to earn money for various items in the shops, you might be forced into the fight without having collected both of the toys of legend, or before using those toys to enter the trial dungeons to break the magical anchors strengthening Mormo. (There is an achievement for beating her without breaking either anchor, and I got that on my first run precisely because I was forced to fight her before I had a chance to enter the trial dungeons.) So if you want money without fighting and gaining XP, you’re stuck running around cutting grass and shrubs Zelda-style to pick up funds at a dreadfully slow pace.

Finally there’s the new era, in which you begin as a new Sword of your choosing, but Mormo shows up and adds some stipulation to fighting her again. I found most of these annoying, but the worst was setting up a timer requiring that I fight her in six days. Note, that’s not real time, but the fast-forward scale employed by most games. So in roughly one hour, I had to somehow level up against lesser enemies who are all so powerful that every fight dragged on and on. Then there’s the hell of dealing with the mini-bosses guarding the toys of legend in the dungeons, who are so far ahead of my level that unless I bring a backpack full of food, I’m guaranteed to fail. This is one example, but I can assure you, all the other stipulations I’ve seen were equally obnoxious.

I really want to find something to praise to turn this review around, but the closest I can come is with faint praise that there’s a brief span of dungeon exploration before the fight with Mormo where the game was almost fun. But almost fun isn’t really fun, and that’s why I have to give Swords of Ditto 2 stars. It’s sad to see a game with so much potential burn it all on a tedious grinding process. This coulda been a contender, and instead it’s a sad pretender.