Adventures can be difficult to find in daily life. Responsibility, money, time, and other factors get in the way of letting thrill-seekers ever fulfill the dreams of conquering the unknown that they hold in their hearts. The protagonist of Ittle Dew 2+ shows what life can be like when nothing gets between you and whatever it is you desire. In the case of Ittle, she desires nothing more in life than to solve puzzles, unearth treasure, and find adventure wherever it may be.
In Ittle Dew 2+, you play as Ittle, an adventurer always on the lookout for a dungeon to plunder. Ittle is accompanied by her oft sarcastic companion Tippsie, a flying fox. The game starts with the pair becoming shipwrecked on an unfamiliar island that appears quite uninteresting to their eyes. They are intercepted upon arrival by an older gentleman by the name of Passel who demands they leave at once. However, Ittle and Tippsie discover that their raft is well and truly toast. They then set out to complete the island’s eight main dungeons to collect raft pieces to construct a new raft to leave with.
This premise is simple enough, but over the course of completing the game’s many dungeons, the history of the island and its inhabitants start to come to the surface. This is especially true should players partake in the game’s secret dungeons. Only completing the core eight dungeons will give players vague hints at the lives of both Passel and the other individuals you encounter. Anyone playing this game is encouraged to push through trying to complete these dungeons, since it makes several things seen throughout the game make more sense, and the game world as a whole will feel more well-rounded as a result.
Gameplay consists of venturing through an overworld that contains various small dungeons and enemies. There are also eight much larger dungeons that must be completed as part of the story. All dungeons contain a condition that needs to be fulfilled to complete it, which consists of either puzzle or, less commonly, defeating all enemies in the room. Many of the dungeons that are more difficult to discover contain Secret Shards, which are necessary to access the game’s 4 secret dungeons. Furthermore, the overworld is composed of multiple regions with their own theme/style and multiple individual maps make up each region. There is a day/night cycle, as well as weather changes. If you’ve played any game from the Legend of Zelda series, especially A Link to the Past, these features will be familiar.
Pressing “-” at any point will prompt your companion Tippsie to give pointers related to your current location. If you’re in a dungeon, that usually entails tips about what tools will be needed for its puzzles. During a boss fight, he’ll advise how best to defeat them. Worthy of note is the fact that there is no mini-map in this game, so frequent checking of the overworld map menu will be necessary while getting around, which is a bit of an inconvenience considering just how many dungeons there are to keep track of.
Ittle Dew 2+ has quite a large amount of different dungeons to complete. Each map has several caves, trapdoors, and other small-scale rooms to explore and plunder. That’s not counting the eight-story dungeons that contain raft pieces. Regular dungeons are denoted as doorway icons on your map, while main story dungeons look like a doorway with horns. Once completed, a checkmark (or crown for main dungeons) appears on the doorway icon to let you know at a glance whether you’ve completed the dungeon.
Dungeons big and small can be completed in any order, but players should be forewarned that some dungeons (and the regions they’re located in) contain tougher enemies and bosses. At the same time, obtaining tools from the tougher story dungeons allows players to access shortcuts in the earlier dungeons, causing entire puzzle rooms to be bypassed. So there are certainly benefits to challenging yourself and tackling the more complicated dungeons earlier.
Some small dungeons may contain Cave Scrolls, which reveal the location of one of several well-hidden caves that largely contain Secret Shards or a box of crayons, which is an item that increases your life bar by a small amount. You may also find a portal gate scroll after completing a dungeon, which reveals the location of a dungeon containing a portal gate, which are gateways that take you to self-contained regions that consist of several puzzles with a chest at the end that contains unique items that grant passive abilities like improved defense and attack. These are very helpful to seek out as they make fighting enemies and even solving some puzzles easier.
New to the Switch release is the Dream World, a region containing several large dungeons that feature many of the game’s toughest puzzles and enemies. Access to these dungeons starts opening up as you obtain more of the game’s tools (force wand, dynamite, ice wand, and various upgrades to your melee weapon). Each dungeon restricts you to using just one type of tool to complete its puzzles. It’s worth noting for any players discouraged by the difficulty of these dungeons that they are entirely optional. They mostly contain only trading cards featuring the game’s characters. For those left unsatisfied by the game’s puzzles, however, the Dream World is sure to provide a worthy challenge.
Another part of the game that packs a bit of a difficulty spike is the trio of secret dungeons you can find in different places of the overworld. Each requires you to have obtained a certain amount of Secret Shards from cave dungeons. The secret dungeons are all especially large and uncharacteristically brutal compared to the rest of the game’s dungeons. However, completing them gives a more complete picture of the plot compared to merely beating the story dungeons and calling it a day. Like the Dream World, these are also not required to complete the game, so it is up to the player to decide if they’re up for a challenge. Keep in mind that there is an ultimate secret dungeon that can only be accessed by completing all three secret dungeons and the main eight dungeons.
The enemies of Ittle Dew2+ are cute. Many even explode into a shower of confetti once defeated. Their art style is even a bit whimsical, with their sprites wavering a bit as if animated from drawings. Players would do well not to judge these enemies by their looks. Especially in the early game before you have much health capacity, even the most diminutive of enemies can reduce your health effectively. Strategy is key with many of the game’s enemies, whether that entails utilizing dodge rolls or the right tool items. The stick you start the game with can luckily be improved as you find upgrades down the line.
Something that makes surviving enemy attacks easier is the pink restore point tiles found scattered across the map. These restore all your health and serve as spawn points should you die. Enemies also drop short-term buff items that provide 1-minute boosts, such as increased damage or defense. Certain enemies can also impart negative status ailments with their attacks that impair the player.
Bosses can be found at the end of the game’s larger dungeons. An interesting detail is all but one of the story dungeon bosses are just one of 3 different adversaries, but in different battle mechs. These fights still require different tactics all the same, as each boss has different attacks and patterns. Another detail about these bosses is how they provide the game’s only spoken dialog, delivered as lines while fighting them and upon their defeat. Unfortunately, they are in the developer’s native Swedish, so players who do not speak Swedish will be unable to understand them.
A large part of playing Ittle Dew 2+ will be working through its many puzzles. Most of the dungeon rooms you will find require solving a puzzle to obtain its treasure chest or to unlock the door to the next room. For the smaller side dungeons, this is fairly straightforward. Perhaps a single block needs to be pushed, or a button that you can push after traversing past a few traps. However, the puzzles in this game can be quite tricky as the game goes on, with the puzzles found in the optional Dream World and secret dungeons requiring mastery of your tools, reflexes, and wits.
For many of the puzzles, it’s a matter of doing things in the right order, whether that be sliding certain blocks or pressing buttons. Players will find that often only one possible solution is intended for each puzzle, though tools can make certain puzzles much easier if they are obtained early on. You can also use tools in creative ways to “cheat” certain puzzles, such as running off a ledge and placing an ice block on a switch across a gap right before you fall.
As previously mentioned, each main dungeon has certain shortcuts that allow you to bypass a puzzle room, provided you have obtained the right tool already. Types of puzzles that players can find include sliding blocks, ice blocks, reflection, and puzzles that involve lots of spikes and traps. No matter what your puzzling weakness is, you will find it here.
One thing to keep in mind is that some puzzles require precise movements, and using the analog stick on a joycon can be very annoying as you often will move diagonally when you don’t mean to. Unfortunately, even using the directional buttons cannot remedy this, as they are not the easiest to use in this instance. Using a pro controller may be easier for some players unwilling to endure the added difficulty of human error.
Each of Ittle Dew 2+‘s regions has its own music. Each track fits the region quite well. For example, the game’s first region “Fluffy Fields” features a whimsical musical track, with marimba and piano featuring heavily. Each region’s theme also has a more subdued version that plays while in cave dungeons. All of the large dungeons in the game have their own music track, as well as every portal gate world. Usually the more serious the music track sounds, the more serious you should take the dungeon.
There are many styles of music featured throughout the game, and each track has been made exceptionally well. Players are likely to find at the very least a few songs that they like at some point while playing. Those that desire to listen to the game’s music further are in luck because a sound test menu can be unlocked on the main menu through an item found in a particular dungeon. All tracks can be played from this menu, providing fans of the game’s great music a further means to listen to it.
Even after the credits roll, chances are most players will have plenty of things left undone in Ittle Dew 2+. The last save before completing the story can be loaded afterward, therefore your game can be picked right up should you choose to. The sheer amount of side dungeons hidden in each region is enough to keep most players busy for quite a while after the main dungeons are done. These contain many of the game’s health-boosting boxes of crayons and some tool upgrades as well, both being crucial aids in completing the optional dungeons. You can also find items that unlock a music test and concept art section under the Extras menu on the title screen. This provides a way to listen to music and also take a look at the creative process behind the game.
One of the major reasons to keep playing is to uncover most of the game’s backstory, which is revealed in the 4 secret dungeons. At the conclusion of the story, the game barely starts to hint at the history of the island, so players may very well be enticed to follow that thread by tackling the tough secret dungeons. The Dream World is another reason to keep on going after the credits. It contains five dungeons equal in scale to the main and secret dungeons. The puzzles contained in these dungeons provide a new level of challenge for those that breezed through the game’s story dungeon puzzles. There’s no practical benefit to be had from completing these dungeons outside of collecting cards (which have no use), but for those that seek to stimulate their brain, this is the place to be.
For those who really know where to look, there are also many secrets hidden across the game’s world. Rooms with chanting monks, phonographs playing weird talking, and coded signs are just some of the secrets one can find. Some of these are actually hinted at bigger secrets that can unlock special playable characters and even a tough secret boss related to the developer’s past games. Players should be forewarned that cracking or finding many of these secrets will take just as much, if not more, brainpower as the game’s toughest puzzle rooms.
For anyone who enjoyed any Legend of Zelda title even a little bit, especially the puzzle elements, Ittle Dew 2+ is a fantastic game to check out. The combat is great, the puzzles challenge your wits (and patience), and the amount of humor and charm shows throughout the game. The difficulties in trying to complete some puzzles with the joycons detract a bit from the experience. The difficulty of the puzzles themselves is already enough without having to worry about your controller betraying you. Even so, this game more than makes up for it with a very fun and memorable experience.
Final Rating: 8.5/10.