I’ll get straight to the point: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my time spent with Ittle Dew 2.
Having no idea what at all to expect, I went in blind, but was rewarded by a charmingly animated Zelda-esque adventure – with puzzles and bosses that seriously kicked my ass.
The original Ittle Dew released on PC and mobile devices back in 2013, so this sequel is the game’s first foray onto console. I hadn’t even heard of the first, never mind played it, so gladly Ittle Dew 2 is a perfectly standalone adventure. Fitting the format of a classic Zelda game to almost die-cut precision, Ittle Dew 2 presents you with a large world map that gradually uncovers as you discover more areas. It’s split into eight distinct zones, each containing its own dungeon to solve and a myriad of secrets to uncover. Minus the last dungeon, you can approach them in any order you wish, although the difficulty spikes of each area will probably naturally force you to do them in more-or-less the correct order anyway.
The main difference between Ittle Dew 2 and its obvious inspirations is the tone of the game: Ittle Dew doesn’t take itself seriously, and in many instances openly mocks the games that it apes. You see, the protagonists of Ittle Dew are no ordinary adventurers. Well, perhaps that’s exactly what they are; the island they find themselves washed up on is specifically designed for ordinary folks wanting to set out on a video-game style adventure. There’s no princess in grave peril to rescue; your only reward for completing each dungeon is a plank of wood so you can rebuild a raft and get home. Needless to say, Ittle Dew 2 is packed with tongue-in-cheek humour and shameless references to other adventure games – and it’s all the more enjoyable for it.
Ittle Dew 2‘s farcical nature is further heightened by its colourful and childlike art style. Looking like a series of hand drawn doodles, Ittle Dew‘s world is delightful in its simplicity. However, this veneer is distinctly at odds with the difficulty of the game. Eased in gently, Ittle Dew 2 initially feels like it’s going to be a breezy walk in the park; perhaps a game more aimed at children thanks to its picture-book animations and very easy introductory dungeon, the aptly-named “Pillow Fort”. However, it soon becomes apparent that not all is what it seems; progressing into further areas of the map soon reveals the game’s dark side: despite that initial impression, Ittle Dew 2 is far from easy. Past the first few dungeons in fact, I’d describe it as positively rage-inducing.
A game needs to have a decent level of challenge, but due to the setting of the game, Ittle Dew 2‘s difficulty feels starkly out of place at times. While most environmental enemies and puzzles don’t pose too much of an issue, it’s mainly the dungeon’s bosses that will have you stamping your feet in frustration. Comically designed to fit in with the theme of the island, the bosses are entertaining to look at, but thoroughly annoying to battle. They take on set attack patterns, typical of old-school boss battles, but their attacks are often unwieldy and hard to dodge, and generally speaking, success feels more like a case of luck than skill. While some difficulty is needed, the bosses feel a little too unfair in what is clearly designed to be a lighthearted romp down memory lane.
Aside from the bosses, though, each of the eight dungeons provides an enjoyable challenge to sink your teeth into. Sticking with its very Zelda-esque design, each dungeon is packed with puzzles to solve, getting slightly more complex as you progress. I’ll admit some puzzles had me stumped, but all can be solved logically by using the weapons and tools at your disposal. They’re actually cleverly designed, and solving some of the most tricky will leave you with a great sense of accomplishment.
There’s plenty more to Ittle Dew 2 outside of its main eight dungeons, too. There is a wealth of secrets to be found across the island, with bonus dungeons, hidden rooms and caves with collectables to explore and find. When you’ve completed the main story of the game, you can return to unlock a final dungeon. For what appears to be a twee game more interested in mimicking others than creating a name for itself, there’s actually a great deal of substance to Ittle Dew 2. It’s not the longest game you’ll ever play, but if you decide to take on all the hidden extras, there’s a good 12+ hours of play time here. For its £15.99 asking price, that’s pretty good value.
Despite its childlike exterior, Ittle Dew 2 certainly isn’t childsplay; this is a serious adventure wrapped up in a colourful and simple disguise. Be prepared to need a lot of patience to battle some of the later bosses, but if you can get past them, the charm of the game and the breadth of puzzles and exploration on offer means this is a title well worth investing in. If you have fond memories of 2D Zelda adventures, then Ittle Dew 2 is definitely one you need to check out.