Ittle Dew 2+ Switch Review
Expansive open world but game always indicated where to go next
Tons of secrets
Encourages exploration, humorous, doesn’t take itself seriously
Long loading screens at each transition is super annoying
Analog control can be loose at times
Some bosses are tough
A Secret To Everyone
Ittle Dew 2+ on Switch is the Zelda experience to play after you completed Breath of the Wild. Like A Link Between Worlds, this top-down exploratory RPG is designed around an open world in which the player can explore wherever desired. Ittle Dew 2 is basically a new, classic Zelda title that is geared toward a more casual player, contains humor, and never takes itself too seriously.
Perhaps the biggest bullet point is not how well the open world has been crafted but rather how it provides a more laid-back experience. It is impossible not to compare this title to Zelda as it wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Zelda, on the one hand, is much more serious as the player always has to manage an inventory with rupees, worry about gimmicky bosses, and has to approach combat carefully whereas Ittle Dew is just sort like “just go explore and have fun, don’t worry about things so much.” Despite having an expansive world to explore, the player is free to travel to any corner of the map and complete any dungeon in any order. Sure, the game suggests following a path and in-game hints are just a button tap away, but allowing the player be unhinged is a relief and much welcomed feature to gameplay.
You play as a shipwrecked boy or girl with the goal of collecting eight raft pieces to get off the island in which you are stuck. Using little more than a simple stick for combat, combat is more fluid and intuitive than you might suspect. Eventually other items will be found, like a ranged attack rod, dynamite that causes big damage, an upgraded melee weapon, or pieces of heart that increase your overall health, but combat and exploration is always entertaining and never chore-ish.
There are definitely times when the player will need to backtrack but walking from one side of the map to the other only takes a couple minutes. Along the way, the player will be exposed to a wealth of secrets, most optional. Moreover, the environment and level design have been created in such a way that there is something tucked away just around every corner and easy to get side tracked. It is also important to note that all the secret puzzles can be completed by only using the starting equipment, making this truly a “go wherever you want, whenever you want” type of game. Death is even handled in a friendly way; the player just gets warped back to the latest checkpoint which is never more than a few screens away. There are also several fast travel points which makes transportation a snap.
The map is ultimately divided into eight sections, each containing a dungeon with a boss inside. Just like Zelda, keys will need to found to open locked doors, environmental puzzles will need to be solved along the way, or all the enemies need to be defeated before the player can move forward. There are also optional secrets to be found inside dungeons and caves throughout the entire map. The map also keeps track of where the player has gone, where secret caves can be found, and which caves have been completed. This mapping system works behinds the scenes for the player to make the overall experience enjoyable from beginning to end. Even if the player finds a dungeon too difficult, optional lock picks can be found in the overworld and used in dungeons if the player doesn’t want to, or can’t, find a key. This should also please speedrunners as it opens creative opportunities.
This Switch version of Ittle Dew 2 has the “+” at the end of the official title which is there to indicate a few extra features unique to this Nintendo version. First, physical versions of this game will ship with a tear-resistant map and full color instruction booklet that looks like it came right from the NES era; props goes to Nicalis for going this extra mile for their fans. There are also some bonus content found in-game, such as optional costumes, but this Switch version also has some unique dungeon content if players are dedicated.
As good as this game is, there are two hindrances that do not hold back the experience but definitely make things more tedious than they should be. First are the load times. Whenever transitioning from one location, room, or cave, there is an awkwardly long unanimated loading screen. Making matters worse, there are times when the player will need to enter a cave, fail at completing a puzzle, then have to exit and reenter to reset the screen. Doing this forces the player to sit through three rounds of loading and is unavoidably annoying. It is so bad that I actually avoided walking into some areas just to not have to load. Secondly is due to the hardware itself, specifically the controller. Although control is fluid, it is a little too loose. There are parts in dungeons, for example, that requires walking on thin ledges to avoid falling into a pit. This is actually rather difficult using the Joy-Con analog stick and I wound up dying several times as a result. The player can use the four face buttons on the left Joy-Con like a d-pad in substitution but is not as good as using a true d-pad. Using a Pro Controller is a better way to go.
If you have ever been intimated by Zelda, Ittle Dew 2 is undoubtedly a game to play. With casual gameplay in an open world environment, this indie sequel is honestly one of the best Zelda clones I have ever played. It is also not as lengthy as a Zelda game but this open world is filled with secrets and contains a very well designed overworld that constant reward the player and keep gameplay engaging. Ittle Dew 2 is the perfect way to spend a lazy weekend. Don’t skip this.
Not As Good As: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Better Than: Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom
Also Try: Neutopia (a TubroGrafx-16 game on Wii Virtual Console and PS3)