A Story About a Girl and Her Flying Fox Friend Going On an Adventure…
Ittle Dew 2 is an adorable romp of a game that also happens to be really tough, and it’s that disconnect from which most of the game’s problems arise.
Ittle Dew 2 is a 2D action RPG with 3D graphics. The game has a kid-friendly feel overall. The art style, story, characterization, and world-building all have an elementary school feel to them that is really adorable and fun. The plot of the game apparently picks up where the first game left off with the title character Ittle and her faithful flying fox companion Tippsie drifting at sea on a raft, which promptly breaks apart when they come ashore on a mysterious island. This kicks off a quest to find eight pieces of a new raft scattered among various dungeons across the island. Ittle and Tippsie are opposed in their quest by the island’s high strung caretaker, his mechanized assistants and a menagerie of the island’s aggressive flora and fauna.
The Island is divided into classically differentiated sections. There’s a garden level, water level, fire level, ice level, etc., but Ittle Dew 2 puts a unique spin on them. The fire level has a wild west and chips and salsa theme, with Centaur Cowgirl enemies and rivers of salsa instead of lava. The desert level, technically a beach level, is covered in candy. The way Ittle Dew 2 puts its own spin on classic level themes is quite charming and refreshing. The dungeons in Ittle Dew 2 also have a bit of a spin on them too, at least as far as location.The fire dungeon is located in the ice section of the island, for example.
Ittle Dew 2 is a bit of a throwback to the NES era of action RPGs in that it is clearly aimed at kids, and yet is fairly difficult after the second dungeon or so. The difficulty comes mostly from the combat which is just on the right side of unfair. Most combat encounters in the game can be bypassed, which has the unintended consequence of not preparing players’ reflexes for the boss fights and rooms with doors that only unlock after a set number of enemies are killed. There’s also no way to adjust the difficulty in the settings, and the weapon and gear upgrades found scattered about the world map and dungeons only marginally help the situation.
The game’s art style is cartoony and everything about the story and characters is aimed squarely at kids, but puzzles can be fairly tricky and the combat can be rough. In the NES era, this was fairly commonplace among action RPGs, but has fallen by the wayside in favor of more hand- holding when it comes to kid’s games, with the notable exception of Minecraft. That game, while arguably not aimed at kids, has definitely caught on with children and certainly doesn’t hold hands or pull punches. Another small departure from the classical NES Action RPG formula is Ittle Dew 2’s tone. The NES games tended to be somewhat self-serious while this game is much lighter and funnier.
Playing Ittle Dew 2 feels a lot like playing an updated A Link to the Past which is to say the game feels alternately familiar and stale. The positive, familiar, moments tend to outweigh the stale moments, thankfully. Those moments of exasperation at fighting just one too many of a particularly annoying enemy type or of finding out one seemingly hidden room only contains the map to an actually hidden room do happen more often than is really necessary. While A Link to the Past and Ittle Dew 2 share the same player perspective and basic combat mechanics, Ittle Dew 2 is smoother and utilizes the gamepad in a more modern, efficient way. On the other hand, there is less depth to Ittle Dew 2, which is mostly due to the size of the game. There isn’t much new or interesting about the gameplay of Ittle Dew 2; it’s all done well, but there isn’t much there that hasn’t been done as well or better in a different game. That said, the combat is challenging and versatile enough to accommodate multiple playstyles, and figuring out solutions to the puzzles is satisfying.
One area that Ittle Dew 2 could use some improvement is the boss fights. With the exception of the final boss, which is actually quite clever, most of the boss fights in the game repeat a simple pattern. In fact there are only three bosses which players must fight multiple times throughout the game. This makes finishing the dungeons in the second half of Ittle Dew 2 feel a little rote and unsatisfying. Without spoiling the final boss fight, it is very much in keeping with the tone of the game, and the character of the boss itself is absolutely one of the standout moments of Ittle Dew 2.
One aspect of Ittle Dew 2 that is satisfying is the overall production value. The game isn’t necessarily going to blow anyone away with its visuals, music or sound design, but all three of those aspects are solidly done. The game has a cartoony, hand-painted art style that is simple but looks nice. The music is appropriately simple but catchy, if perhaps a bit repetitive. Overall the design isn’t amazing but also isn’t bad either, just solidly good.
Ittle Dew 2 is available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One for $19.99. The game is big enough and filled with enough secrets to take up a reasonable amount of time, and the difficulty level will add some time to most people’s playthroughs. This sort of middle tier of games is becoming more and more crowded with truly amazing games like Hyper Light Drifter, Darkest Dungeon and The Banner Saga 2, to name three from just this year. Virtually none of those games could remotely be described as kid-friendly though, and that is one of Ittle Dew 2’s advantages in the space. Ittle Dew 2 also includes a ‘show playtime’ option for anyone who feels like attempting a speedrun as well.
Ittle Dew 2 is a really good game for kids or adults so long as they’re prepared for the challenge that the game’s style belies.