Last week I had the pleasure of playing through the indie puzzler Ittle Dew by Ludosity. As a longtime Legend of Zelda fan, I won’t deny that I was initially attracted by the game’s apparent use of dungeons and block puzzles, but I quickly realized that the similarities are purely superficial.
Ittle Dew (rated E10+) stars a barefoot adventurer named Ittle and her winged fox companion Tippsie, who are shipwrecked (well, raft-wrecked) on the shore of a strange and foreboding island. They soon meet a carver named Itan who agrees to make them a new raft…for a price. First they must raid the castle and bring him back a special artifact.
The island is filled with complex puzzles and quirky enemies of varying levels of difficulty. Your companion Tippsie provides hints for completing each room when the going gets tough. Though it’s easy to die in the game, the penalty is minor and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game at all.
Ittle lacks the nobility of many other adventure game heroes, and instead prefers stealing gold, annoying bad guys, and burping the alphabet. Periodically, the game pauses to show us conversations between Ittle, Tippsie, and various enemies, all of which are filled with wonderful, irreverent humor. But it was the game’s meta comments that won me over, like the exchange pictured below:
Ittle Dew gives you a somewhat structured route to follow, but it’s up to you if you want to do as the story suggests. The game is fairly short, with only three items total (and only one required to beat the game), but the many secret caves and collectible character cards can keep you playing for several extra hours. Or, if you prefer to do things fast, a built-in game clock makes it easy to speed run (competitively gaming as quickly as you can), and it’s simple to post your game time to leader boards corresponding with the main item or items you chose to collect before beating the game. All of these features give Ittle Dew an excellent replay factor.
But the best part of all? Girls! Ittle, Tippsie, and several of the enemies are all girls, and even more characters are of indeterminate gender. It was extremely refreshing to play a game with more than one female character, and none of them with big boobs or teeny tiny clothes. Ittle runs around the island bare-footed and full of moxie—the perfect hero for any rambunctious kid.
My biggest complaint? Most of the game was easy enough, but parts were extremely difficult. In some ways, this is great—players from all levels can get a kick out of Ittle’s fun story. But all too often I would be following along an easy path, only to be suddenly thrown into a super tricky boss battle. So, while parts of the game may be easy for kids to play, other parts will be frustratingly difficult. I loved the character design and the many jokes, and it disappoints me that they won’t be easily accessible to an even younger audience. The hardest part of the game is inarguably the Master Cave, a separate area with extremely tricky puzzles. I wish more of the hard parts had been like this cave: out of the way.
All in all, I was sad to reach the game’s end. Ittle Dew is a great game for kids around middle-school age because of its challenging puzzles, its easy-to-use interface, and its wide availability. You can currently play Ittle Dew on Mac, Windows, Linux, Steam, Android, Google Play and iOS. And hopefully soon, Ittle Dew will be available on Wii U.