Ittle Dew was released back in 2014 and struck an instant chord with fans of top down adventure games, the kind made famous by Zelda titles like the much loved A Link to the Past. The first adventure of Ittle and her flying fox pal, Tippsie, went on to modest success, enough to inspire Ludosity to go ahead and bring the incorrigible duo back for a second dungeon-packed undertaking titled, funnily enough, Ittle Dew 2.
Anyone familiar with the first game will instantly be at home with it’s sequel. The developers are obviously big fans of the old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ because Ittle Dew 2 features everything that made it’s predecessor a fun game, and then some. Even the story has a distinctly similar feel to it this time around. Ittle and Tippsie have once again washed up on the shores of a mysterious island where they must seek out the pieces required to construct a new raft enabling them to leave. As luck (and the laws of dungeoneering) would have it, each fragment is hidden deep within the depths of a fiendish labyrinth full of menacing monsters and fabulous treasure. It’s a simple premise but it’s presented here with some real charm and self-aware humor that pokes fun at tired tropes within the genre. The interactions between Ittle, Tippsie and the motley inhabitants of the island had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
When they arrive, the duo are immediately met by a grumbly old man named Passel who seems to have a particularly strong dislike for adventurers. After Tippsie filches a magic map from him that details the locations of all the dungeons, he disappears in a poof of smoke and sets players loose on the island to wander where they please. In a stroke of design genius, the devs have allowed you to tackle the dungeons in whatever order you like, forgoing the usual item gating mechanic utilized in most games of this type. Items do constitute an important role in gameplay but they are not absolutely required to progress, with the exception being entrance to the final dungeon which is dependent on you possessing all pieces of the raft. This is a very welcome feature in my opinion. For a long time, adventure games have been stoically sticking to the same formula and it’s refreshing to see a studio buck the trend a little bit. In fact, isn’t Nintendo doing exactly the same thing with their upcoming Zelda title, Breath of the Wild? Enough said!
Puzzles played a big role in the first game with perhaps a little too much pushing and pulling of blocks. Ittle Dew 2 still has many puzzles to solve but has incorporated a lot more combat between them to spice things up from an action standpoint. Block movement is still at the forefront of most puzzles and some of them will most certainly have you scratching your head for a solution. If things get too tough, Tippsie will pop up at the press of a button to offer some sage advice which is usually very helpful and specific to the situation you find yourself in. It’s a clever way to incorporate a hint system and his conversations with Ittle are always entertaining to watch.
Combat has been refined and is more fluid and precise than in the first game. While not essential to progress, you will come across a variety of weapons and upgrades hidden in dungeons and caves dotted around the expansive overworld. Mixing up your fighting style using these upgrades makes beating up the bad guys easier and much more fun. On offer is a long range wand for hitting baddies from a distance, an upgraded fire sword for the BBQ enthusiast and even the old trusty dynamite. I’m yet to see a game in this genre that doesn’t give you access to high powered explosives!
You will rarely die while traversing the overworld but once you reach some of the boss encounters, get ready for that to change especially in the latter stages of play. Having the extra weapons on hand definitely makes these opponents easier as they throw loads of varied attacks at you in quick succession making them the most challenging fights in the game. Once again, the interactions between Ittle, Tippsie and the boss characters is hilariously irreverent and very well staged.
Visually, Ittle Dew 2 has taken the cartoony 2D graphics of the original and upgraded them with new effects and a much cleaner, crisper look. Each region of the overworld is distinctly different from the rest and you will find yourself adventuring through sun baked prairies, a forest scattered with fallen stars and an ingenious lava region that is modelled around gigantic nachos with flowing rivers of hot salsa. The dungeons are equally quirky. The first one you’ll visit is actually a giant pillow fort and others include an art gallery and even some dude’s flooded basement. It’s definitely unusual but it works really well.
Music in the game is a standout feature. The song that accompanies the menu screen had me whistling it long after I had stopped playing. Tunes are fun and engaging across the board which is a rare thing in gaming. More often than not, I find myself muting music after it becomes overly annoying but the melodies of Ittle Dew 2 are upbeat and memorable in all the right places. Sound effects are adequately solid but nothing out of the ordinary. Swords clang and swish, and fire crackles like a fire should. Some of the effects come through as a little tinny but it’s a small complaint.
Ittle Dew 2 has loads of charm and a quirky kind of attitude that can clearly be seen in it’s music, characterization and even in it’s cartoon style visuals. It’s certainly an improvement in all facets over it’s predecessor. A bigger game world, a far better look and some truly enjoyable music make for an engrossing adventure. While it certainly never breaks any new ground, Ittle and Tippsie’s latest foray into raft construction makes up for a lack of innovation with a thoroughly engaging sense of fun and it’s that aspect of the game that will stick with you after the credits roll. After all, we play games for fun don’t we?
Reviewed on Xbox One