Co-Optimus - Review - The Swords of Ditto Co-Op Review

The Swords of Ditto: Mormo's Curse

  • Couch Co-Op: 2 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
The Swords of Ditto Co-Op Review
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The Swords of Ditto Co-Op Review

You got rogue-lite in my Legend of Zelda!

The first time I had a successful “run” in The Swords of Ditto, I thought, “well that was pretty fun, but is that it?” Then, the giant space whale appeared...

I do not envy onebitbeyond trying to market and pitch this title to a broad gaming audience. Phrases like “rogue-lite” or “Legend of Zelda clone” may encapsulate the core gameplay, but they do not speak to everything that is going on in this co-op adventure. There is far more to discover than a 5, 10, or even 30 minute demo would show you, and that’s ultimately a disservice to a title that has more to offer than its cartoon-like aesthetic and action/adventure gameplay would lead you to believe. So, in the interest of being able to talk more in-depth about this curiosity, here’s my pitch (very light spoilers ahead; you can skip ahead to the next page if you want to avoid it):

Imagine playing Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past for the first time. You progress through the initial three dungeons, get the special tools and items that let you take on the wizard Agahnim, and then proceed to the final battle. You successfully beat him, rescue Princess Zelda, everyone's happy, and the game "ends." You get a message that the land is once more at peace and you pass into legend. After that, you receive a message that states this cycle will continue, but you have a means to end it. Then, you wake up as a different version of Link and are informed that Zelda has been taken by Agahnim once again, and you must go rescue her. Wait… didn’t you just do this?

Within the game itself, everything (more or less) feels the exact same as what you just played. Your hero has none of the gear they previously collected, major NPCs repeat dialogue, and it seems like you're just doing the same thing again. As a player, though, that brief message you received at the end of your first playthrough should have planted a little bug in your brain. Maybe there's more going on here. Maybe those mysterious locations you ran past the first time have more functionality than you thought. Maybe you should spend your limited time doing a few things other than fighting the main antagonist…

THAT is what The Swords of Ditto is actually about. Despite the “rogue-lite” tag that’s attached to it, it has very little to do with having an “optimized” run, or completing it in the shortest amount of time, or progressing further into some endless dungeon than you did the last time. “Rogue-lite,” in this case, is genuinely used as shorthand to setup some fundamental mechanics within the game (e.g., progression is reset upon death), and not as a genre pigeonhole. There really isn’t a good genre classification for The Swords of Ditto. It is, for better and worse, a game that uses an intentional repetition of gameplay in order to slowly peel back the layers of what’s happening within the game world and push the player towards the true goal.