At E3 last week the MonsterVine team had the chance to check out Swords of Ditto, an upcoming micro-action RPG that prides itself on its local multiplayer and incredibly charming visuals. Developed by Onebitbeyond, the game seemed like an odd fit for the decidedly strange and adult publisher Devolver Digital, but their attempt at reaching out to a game that can appeal to kids and adults is interesting to say the least. While it’s still a ways from its release, we got a good look at what to expect, and we were rather impressed.
The gameplay of Swords of Ditto is somewhat based on classic SNES games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana. Exploration blends with light hack and slash combat in a way that is oddly relaxing, largely due to the “Cartoon Network” art-style. The game looks like shows such as Steven Universe and OK KO!, with rounded lines and soft colors filling every corner of the screen. It’s a simple but refreshing style, and one that fits Swords of Ditto perfectly.
The story of Swords of Ditto is a fittingly simple one. As a randomly generated character, you are chosen by a deity to be a hero. It is up to you to defeat the evil deity, Mormo, while combatting dungeons, monsters, and permadeath. When your character dies, they’re gone for good. You wake up as a new character, tasked with finding your items all over, and trying to defeat NAME once again. The character who was killed does become a legend, however, and their death affects the world of Ditto. Depending on the success of your playthrough, the world can become more welcoming, or more aggressive, a neat feature that makes the world feel more robust.
The world of Ditto is also procedurally generated, meaning each character you play as will face a slightly different world. While the world’s design is technically random, with different dungeon and map layouts, Swords of Ditto’s developers made it clear that they made each world feel natural and made by real people instead of computers. While we didn’t see enough of the game to confirm this, the dungeons we saw were indeed fairly natural.
There are lots of items to be used all around the world of Ditto, in a way reminiscent of the Zelda franchise. While classic tools like the bow and arrow are present, the wackier weapons are what grabbed our attention, such as the boomerang-esque vinyl records, and the giant stone foot from the sky that stomps on whatever you command it to. While you’ll have to find these items again after each death, there seemed to be a great deal of tools to be found, many of which have dungeons based around them entirely in seemingly creative ways. There are even “stickers” that give your characters buffs and abilities, both passive and active, further adding on to the pressure to stay alive.
A major part of Swords of Ditto is its length. It only takes around two hours for a complete playthrough with a single character, meaning you can run through a life as a character within a day. You could even skip each life’s three substantial dungeons and run straight towards the final boss right off the bat if you’re feeling lucky, but the immense difficulty of the boss combined with your total lack of tools would likely lead to a quick and embarrassing death.
Co-op is a large part of Swords of Ditto, as another player can hop in or drop out at any time. While no online multiplayer is planned, the devs clarified that they want to focus on the unfortunately fading sense of local teamwork that has been somewhat lost in the modern games industry. The inventory system is even shared to make dropping out temporarily a non-issue, so that there are no consequences to jumping in and out of the game at random. Players can even revive one another when they’re down, further promoting companionship and friendly teamwork.
On a more technical level, the devs confirmed that there will be a true end-goal to Swords of Ditto, should the player wish to pursue it. While that was all the devs could confirm at the time, it should be interesting to see how the story ends when the game launches. A standard difficulty setting is still being worked on, so just how hard the journey will be has yet to be determined.
Our overall impression of Swords of Ditto was a rather positive one. While the game is still rather far from its release, the charming art-style and well-crafted world is intriguing to say the least, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for Swords of Ditto’s release.