The Swords of Ditto is a painfully adorable roguelite adventure that thrives on its charming art style, and a delightful cast of characters you can’t help but love. Initially, when I heard the term “roguelite” I shied away, worried the vibrant look of the game, was a mere front for what would turn out to be a punishing quest. Instead, I found myself enjoying the perfect balance that One Bit Beyond found, in making me feel a loss with each death yet not enough to leave me discouraged.
In The Swords of Ditto you play as a young adventurer — well, several young adventurers — as you lead up to your world-saving battle against the evil Mormo. With each reincarnation, the player is immediately informed by their dung beetle companion, Puku, that they’re the legendary Sword of Ditto. A hero that is awakened every 100 years to protect the town from the dark wiles of Mormo. To save the town you must defeat the sorceress within 4 days or else the town will be cursed to spend yet another 100 years under Mormo’s rule.
In preparation for the battle with Mormo, the hero can take on quests from townspeople, fight hordes of monsters, or explore dungeons, in hopes of finding coin and sticker packs to give the needed edge in battle. Yes, sticker packs. I warned you earlier, this game is painfully adorable. Rather than collecting armor and chainmail to level up as we would expect from a dungeon crawler. The Swords of Ditto rewards the player with sticker packs, which can then be taken to Lik’s Sticker Shack to be appraised (opened). These stickers can equip players with a range of useful abilities from taking less damage during certain times of day, leaving a trail of acid with each dodge-roll, or even opening the door to entirely new attacks.
Near the sticker shop, you can find a quaint little toy store owned by a robot named Nerb. In Nerb’s shop, you can find a rotating inventory of weapons to assist your journey, including a Super Size Suit, which briefly transforms the player into a giant superhero akin to Ultraman. Of course, if shelling out coins for weapons isn’t your speed, throughout the game, there are level-locked Toy Dungeons which provided you can solve their puzzles and slay an end of dungeon boss will reward you with one of the legendary toys.
While the game’s almost overwhelming charm was a huge factor in my enjoyment, what made it stand out the most was how it made me appreciate roguelites. Losing everything that I’ve worked hard for and starting over with a clean slate is something that rarely appeals to me when it comes to games. Especially when I’m looking for a game to play as I wind down after a workday. With each reincarnation, I would lose were my stickers and legendary toys, items which felt auxiliary to the experience, never reaching a point of dependency to be deeply affected by the loss. If I lost something I was truly attached to, I maintained the money of my fallen hero and could go buy another. Or if I didn’t have the money, having the entire map change after each death was enough incentive to get back out there to see what loot I could find, and gather more coin.
Each death in The Swords of Ditto made me even more eager to explore its ever-changing world. The intrigue of seeing the next reincarnation of the hero, and how the layout of the map will evolve kept me engaged and encouraged me to keep striving to defeat Mormo. While the humor, gameplay, and art style all work together magically to create a game that I’d recommend to anyone longing for a 2D Zelda-like adventure.
The Swords of Ditto is available now on PC and PlayStation 4!