Paying homage to the classic retro games is always a wonderful way to get your game noticed. It is always a plus when a new spin it put on it. Polish it up and add some incredible music you have a hit on your hands.  Well, that is exactly what OneBitBeyond and Devolver Digital did with The Swords of Ditto. Watch the trailer below, but I warn you, the music will be stuck in your head all day.

Play, Die, Repeat

The story of The Swords of Ditto is pretty simple. You, a kid, soon turned adventurer, were woken up by a ghost Dung beetle who leads you to a graveyard to pick up a sword. A sword that by chance has all the memories and levels of the champion before you. This isn’t how the story starts but after a few deaths, it’s all you’ll remember.

That isn’t to say the story is bad, let me explain. Kid adventurer wakes up to said Dung beetle and picks up the sword to fight evil sorceress, Mormo. However, every time you die the maps, toys, dungeons, and your adventurer changes, for example, you could wake up to be a boy, girl, dog, bunny, robot, etc. This keeps things fresh from something that is sometimes way too frustrating at the beginning levels. More than once, after being killed, all was forgotten as I yelled out, “Awww, Bunny!” or “Awww, Puppy warrior!” However, while you are pretty much starting from scratch with each new Sword, you will transfer all experience points, level gains, and money gathered by the former warrior, so, it has its balance.

Once you have your sword though, you can make your way to the village and buy some stickers which are used as powerups. The powerups basically take the place of gear in most other RPGs. However, if you would just like to start your adventure (since you are on a time limit), you can venture towards a toy dungeon to solve some puzzles and get yourself a new toy. Toys are used as RPG equipment. Just as Link would use his tools, they can be anything from something as simple as a bow and arrow, but as funny as a yo-yo or a vinyl record that deals damage, bounces of walls, or be used as a boomerang.

Or a giant spiky ball to crush your foes! WHA HA HA!

Tick Tock of the Clock is Painful

For the first few warriors I played with in The Swords of Ditto, I didn’t find the ticking clock to be that terrible, as I was exploring and learning how to navigate the dungeons. Yes, there is a clock ticking, your hero has four days to fight through four dungeons and then you are forced to fight Mormo. Sometimes you never see the end of that clock, cause you died, other times you only get through one or two because you weren’t a high enough level to get into the dungeon and you spend two days trying to level up, then you died.

Sadly, by my seventh/eighth reset, I was starting to get frustrated in knowing that all the money I would grind to buy a new Toy or new sticker would amount to nothing once I died. It annoyed me that only my warrior’s level or money I didn’t spend carried over. The enemies also match your level, and you cant get into a new dungeon until you move to the next level (which was a frustration all on its own). So, in a way, the stats don’t really amount to much in the end. This, I thought, made the Toys and Stickers the real tools to defeat Mormo and the lesser bosses.

Little did I know, but The Swords of Ditto failed to inform me of a vital feature that would help make everything a little less annoying. I know this was on purpose because the moment it strikes, it change’s everything! Like paying homage to the early games before it, The Swords of Ditto wants you to explore and learn. I learned, about 5 hours in, that Celestial Tokens, which are found throughout the dungeons and caves, can be used to summon a magical, mystical, space whale that can manipulate the effects of dying or my clock time and have the ability to send a fallen warrior’s Toys, Stickers, and consumable items to the next Sword.

Bow Before My Power

The Swords of Ditto then introduces Celestial Shards, which can be found easily by defeating enemies or cutting grass. Once a character dies, the whale automatically appears and can send all the items you want to the next Sword in return for a certain amount of those Shards. This aspect of the game was mind-blowing to me when I unlocked it. Early on, your spiritual advisor Puku the Dung Beetle mentions that time might be able to be manipulated, but that’s the only reference I could find to the Celestial system and so finding this aspect was still a total surprise and changed the game for me completely.

This is a power move taken straight from the early Legend of Zelda games. ‘Use a vague story to get the player to explore and stumble upon great power’. Many younger players would miss out on this aspect for hours. So, its the only hint you’ll get from this reviewer.

Don’t Give Up Now

I craved more exploration, but because of the clock ticking, I only went to where the map pointed me. That was until I realized that no matter what cave or dungeon you enter, the clock stops. So, you are free to explore. Then in one of the caves I entered, I found my first token, which led to the Space Whale. I wouldn’t call this a poor/flawed design choice but more like ‘misgivingly frustrating’ (completely aware that ‘Misgivingly’ isn’t a word).

It makes it kind of easy for most players to just head straight to the Toy dungeon because of the ticking clock of doom. Which, in turn, makes them avoid ever discovering the opportunity to carry over items between warriors. However, once I was able to rely on grinding Celestial Shards to carry over Toys and Stickers, The Swords of Ditto’s cycle system didn’t feel nearly as annoying. Nonetheless, a player shouldn’t have to guess this much. There are plenty of ways to hint that continually dying over and over again isn’t the only way to triumph. All in all, it wasn’t a perfect way to influence long-term play.

Here we go again…

Perfectly Adorable In Art And Combat

What helps these tiny misgivings immensely is the wonderful combat system and overall cute aesthetic of The Swords of Ditto. The game is done in a beautiful, cartoony art style, which makes everything pop with alluring color. The variety of enemies is also visually fascinating. Wizards, evil Knights, bats, zombies, and Cronenberg-type flying melted faces all look wonderful. The best part is they all require a different means to defeat. Your warrior can use their sword against every enemy just like a good ol’fashion Hack & Slash. However, some explode upon their defeat, while others will inflict status effects (burning, poison, etc.) when too close. In turn, taking advantage of the Toys that offer ranged damage help with these baddies, and thankfully, having to constantly monitor the different types of enemies in your path is more engaging than cumbersome.

My favorite skill in the entire game, however, is the roll dodge. Which, is a key component in your combat skill as a warrior. Taking down the harder enemies, such as the armored knights and warlocks, I was able to take more risks with my close-quarters fighting. Swiping at an enemy and rolling away is quick and responsive. This made it fun to roll around to avoid any attacks and then to just follow up with a counter blow from behind. To me, it was even more fun when I randomly got a warrior that dressed up as a ninja. The best part is you can roll forever without ever getting tired or dizzy, unlike in real life. All kidding aside, perfecting this ‘dodge-then-attack’ combo is imperative for taking on Mormo’s minions. Which, unlike the Celestial Token issue, is clearly important to master early on.

Overall

The Swords of Ditto is a wonderfully, delightful experience, whether you decide to play it solo or as couch co-op. I didn’t have friends to invite over to play that way but I can only see that being more fun. The game has so much liveliness and character jammed into such a clean, artistic box, it becomes difficult not to become enamored by its shine. The game’s time limit does create some issues for its pacing.

I would have loved to explore this captivating living world and its quirky sense of humor at my own leisure. Unfortunately, that constant ticking clock makes it feel like you’re being rushed through the environment and my anxiety takes over pretty quickly. To be honest, it certainly doesn’t ruin the experience as a whole. I continuously go back into The Swords of Ditto time and time again. I’m currently playing as I write this review now, I can’t get enough. Bring it on Mormo!

You can pick up The Swords of Ditto on Steam or the PS4.

The Swords Of Ditto Review
The Good
  • The Art is Amazing Adorable
  • Good Story and Wonderful Soundtrack
  • Combat is Balanced and Fun
The Bad
  • Forced Time Limit Works Against Exploration
  • Slight Lack of Direction can be Misgivingly Frustrating
8.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

John D
Chief Operating Officer

I have worked hard to become the COO here at GAW and I love it. I write and stream here and I couldn't be happier. I once had a show that I produced, wrote, and co-hosted called the Wide World of Games. I also co-host a podcast called Party Up! I'm an Action-Adventurer, platformer, RPGer, and FPS kind of gamer. Quick to play any game that has magic, swordplay, and/or stealthy elements. If you can customize a character I'm in it for the long haul. Or just give me your 2D platform and I'm a happy camper. What else do you expect from a gamer with a beard and a bow tie tattoo? Seriously.