ITTA (Switch) Review
Whimsical pixel art style sets the tone of the moody narrative
Mixing bullet-hell, which a twin-stick shooter, with boss rush is unique
Lack direction in the world map leads to aimless wandering and wasted time
Switching weapons isn’t as smooth as it should be
Bosses can be tough but circle strafing is the default success pattern for most
ITTA is unique because it merges a few different genres into one final package that impresses. Blending the finesse of a twin-stick shooter with the chaos of a bullet-hell might not be the newest idea but putting it with boss rush gameplay is. Morbid and brief, there is some entertainment to be had but noteworthy flaws hold it back from being something truly special.
Playing as a caped amnesiac that wakes up from death, the story becomes moody when your family is dead and bloodied all around you in a lonely cave. Luckily a spirit cat is there as the player’s Navi and quickly points the protagonist to the first weapon, a revolver. Weapon in hand, the player is left to explore an open world without any direction until a boss is eventually found. Taking down each boss activates a light back in that dreary cave in hopes of being reunited with the murdered family.
Each boss presents a challenge as the screen is often littered with bullets and screen effects. In time, other weapons become available although switching between them on the fly isn’t as smooth as it should be, especially in twitch boss battles. After each boss encounter, the player is left to wander the world until the next boss is found, sometimes using that new weapon to create a new path Metroidvania-style. This is the biggest flaw with ITTA – the lack of direction. With no map, indicators, or waypoints, the player needs to mindlessly navigate the world to find that one open path to the boss. The pixel art is rather whimsical and gorgeous but landscapes look the same, making world navigation more difficult than it needs to be. Aimless wandering has an opportunity to be enjoyable, like when finding a secret to increase health, but without any guidance it becomes tedious, a waste of time, and chorish.
Managing to find a boss is a relief in its own right but emotions quickly transition to anxiety and stress as soon as the fight starts. Animation is smooth and the player has access to an easy-to-execute dash move that needs to be spammed to have any chance of success. The player’s hit box is also lenient which helps to ease some of the battle pains. Make no mistake, even with these tools, most boss encounters are difficult. Unfortunately, the standard circle strafe, in combination with the endless dashing, is the way to finish most fights. ITTA is a brief game but still starts to out stay its welcome nearing the end.
The smooth pixel art visuals are pleasing to the eye but the soundtrack is a little unorganized. Although it can convey a sense of worry, dread, and isolation, it doesn’t fully hit the mark in combat scenarios. It is fine I guess but isn’t as impressive as the visuals, as confusing as they might be sometimes.
ITTA isn’t designed to be a big blockbuster title but instead offers a concise and unique experience and wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Although it achieves what it sets out to do, there are some rougher edges that cause some unfortunate stutters. However, you will be hard pressed to find a smoother, and moodier, boss rush bullet-hell if you are into that sort of thing.
Also available on PC.
Also Try: Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)
Sort Of Looks Like: Hyperlight Drifter or Moonlighter
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