There’s something about a child’s imagination that’s just magical and it’s something that has been explored throughout pop culture. Take Rugrats for example, sure, it’s a kids cartoon but it also takes the idea of imagination and turns it up to 10. Tommy and the gang end up on these huge adventures, when really they’re just trying to conquer the sofa. It’s this same magic of imagination that The Swords of Ditto puts across in its charming visuals which have me wondering when the TV show is set to air.
The Swords of Ditto in brief is a cartoon roguelike / rogue-lite dungeon crawler in which players assume the role of “The Sword” a legendary heroic character whom is the only person capable of putting an end to the reign of the evil Mormo. But much like many other roguelikes it’s not about succeeding on the first try. Throughout your time with the game you’ll assume the role of several different characters who’ll pick up where the previous Sword left off.
What stood out to me the most though was that almost every character (that wasn’t a bad guy) was a kid, what’s more all of the health items are things kids would eat (other than sushi, but perhaps that appeals more to those new-age kids or something?) like cookies, milk, donuts, and hot dogs. What’s more, the game’s secondary weapon is a toy, and buffs come in the form of stickers.
The Swords of Ditto feels more like it’s concocted from a child’s imagination, specifically the child you play as. It almost feels like during the next ten minutes mom will shout that tea is ready and the world would transform into a suburban back garden and the kids are all running around with cardboard swords and shields. At the same time it feels like anything could happen, and thanks to its procedurally generated world each time you assume a new Sword, it almost does.
I also found my own imagination wandering when playing the game wondering that, if the game were like one of those Rugrats adventures, what exactly each enemy would be in the real world. Like the cat that throws bombs being your ordinary house cat, the rolling boxes being an Amazon delivery, and the anthropomorphic blob being a humanised plate of jelly. The Swords of Ditto made me feel like a kid again.
The Swords of Ditto doesn’t offer the most unique gameplay experience, but what it lacks in originality it excels with charm because this game is just so utterly adorable. That’s not to say that the gameplay isn’t compelling, in fact it’s a wholly comfortable experience as anyone can jump into the game and have an almost instant understanding of the mechanics.
The game itself features several different mechanics, from dungeon crawling, grinding, and puzzle solving and it’s this blend of mechanics which makes The Swords of Ditto pretty fun to begin with. Plus, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its cartoon animations are like something out of a Saturday morning TV-show and the music that accompanies your adventure is delightful.
Unfortunately after a good couple of hours the game’s flaws seem to rear their ugly heads. In The Swords of Ditto if you lose your life you lose everything, much like other roguelike’s. The only thing that your new character retains is the money earned, the sword’s level, and the basic items (kazoo for fast travel, fire stick, nerf gun). While this isn’t unusual what is unusual is that the world also levels up meaning you can’t just run into the last dungeon that you were in, you’re forced to do another round of monotonous grinding in order to achieve the required level.
This wouldn’t necessarily be so bad if you weren’t being forced to complete several trials in less than four game-world days. Yeah, there’s a time limit. If that time limit is reached, players are thrust into what is essentially the final boss level only to be completely obliterated and forced to start again.
There is definitely a lot to love about The Swords of Ditto but it’s just not enough to keep you wanting to repeat the same thing over and over again. With the world levelling with you, levelling up your character has no real effect on the gameplay other than being given access to the game progressing dungeons.
Speaking of dungeons, the main ones usually involve some sort of puzzle solving which is a nice touch. In the beginning it involves a lot of switch manipulation which reminds me a lot of those old 3D glasses you’d get as a kid with the blue and red “lenses”. Each switch turns the level either blue or red from here different things can be seen depending on which colour the level is. It involves some tricky and fast thinking, which does definitely shake up the core gameplay.
These puzzles also evolve over time, like when players find the first Toy of Legend, puzzles then use the toy’s power to solve puzzles such as being able to teleport across platforms.
The Swords of Ditto have a lot going for it but it’s the game’s fairly dull grind which will likely stop me from returning to the game. While I enjoyed my initial adventure collecting coins and stickers and even trading them with some of the NPCs, I found that the looming countdown clock prevented me from really exploring the meat of the game, and having to repeat the introduction every time I died just became a bit tedious.