Old Man Gamer : The Swords of Ditto

May 2, 2018

 

 

 

Videogames are complicated and tricky things . It's easy to get so much right in a game only to have one or two flaws undercut everything in the game that works. A game can get everything technically right, be lovely to listen to and see, be stocked full of interesting mechanics and features, but if the right rhythm and balance aren't achieved in its development it can miss out on the most crucial and ethereal aspect of a game: being fun to play.

 

The Swords of Ditto is a game that gets so close to being great but falls short with only a paltry few, but ultimately fatal, flaws. You play as the Sword of Ditto, a champion who comes every 100 years to attempt to defeat the evil witch Mardoch, and the stock story, 2D overhead view and core gameplay are very reminiscent of the classic SNES game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The graphics are hand-drawn, cartoony and surprisingly well-animated and your character travels across the landscape exploring, killing monsters, collecting power-ups and equipment (here called "toys" as they are based on classic playthings) and taking out "anchors", centers of power that help weaken the end boss in your inevitable confrontation which takes place in just four days from when your adventurer steps out. Should you fail in your attempt to kill the evil witch your character dies and 100 years pass and another Sword of Ditto is chosen with access to some of your toys and skills. It is in this way, along with it's semi-randomly procedurally generated landscape, that the developers are trying to meld the classic Zelda gameplay with the mechanics of a game like Rogue Legacy, a combo that at first seems like a chocolate and peanut butter situation.

 

 

 

Unfortunately with all that seems to be going for it from the outset, Swords of Ditto trips over its own shoelaces and wipes out hard with its rogue-like aspects. Instead of slowly over the generations building up your character to ultimately be as powerful as the Big bad for your final showdown, the game levels up your enemies relative to your level making it feel like you are just as weak and ineffective during your fifth playthrough as you were on your first. Another hook of a rogue-like game is the ability to transfer weapons and abilities from your previous runs to your present character but Swords of Ditto puts this feature behind a monetary system that makes it difficult to keep valuable artifacts and weapons that would be essential for your progression to the end game. This deeply undercuts player agency and turns what in most rogue-likes is a natural progression into a slog of a grind fest.You can spend an entire run gathering all the best toys, get proficient at using them and just to have them taken away and hidden behind a de facto in-game currency experience paywall. It ends up feeling more like work than fun.I don't mind the grind of an RPG but when the grind is too much for too little payoff frustration sets in easily.

 

All in all The Swords of Ditto is a game that does almost everything right, but what it doesn't do right tends to make the rest of it meaningless. Maybe a patch in the future could fix the progression tree and thus fix what is wrong with the game but as it stands it is ultimately a disappointment. Swords of Ditto is available for download on PS4 and on Steam.

 

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