Game Review #325: The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Category: Action, Adventure, Arcade, Multiplayer
Release Date: 5.2.2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Onebitbeyond Thrown A Curve Ball
It’s not everyday someone takes the huge risk of breaking away from a successful career to embark on something new, but when you have a solid idea for a project, you have to throw caution to the wind and try. That project is The Swords of Ditto. The Swords of Ditto was developed by Onebitbeyond, an indie studio founded by Jonathan Biddle, who serves as game's creative director. Biddle was previously a co-owner and design director of Curve Digital, but he left the company in 2015 to form Onebitbeyond. The Swords of Ditto's writer, Ed Fear, noted that the game's story was designed to be unobtrusive due to the roguelike nature of the game.
The game was announced by its publisher, Devolver Digital, in June 2017, and was released for PlayStation 4 and PC on 4/24/2018. It was released on Nintendo Switch on 5/2/2019 under the game title The Swords of Ditto: Mormo's Curse. The free update, titled Mormo's Curse, was released on that same date, and included a big overhaul to the overall structure of the game, performance improvements, and bug fixes. This update also made the game available for Nintendo Switch. So, now our journey can begin to see how this one stacks up, and if it’s worth your time and money.
Evil Is Here So We Must Not Stop
The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse is a story that revolves around the Isle of Ditto. Here on the isle, the story follows a hero whose gender, race, and even name changes every time the story ends and begins anew, but the “core values” of our hero remain intact. The task before the sword of Ditto is to vanquish the evil forces of the witch, Mormo, who wishes to dominate the isle, and every one of its inhabitants, under her cruel and selfish rule.
Should the sword be defeated in the climactic confrontation, 100 years of sorrow and darkness will follow, as the people wait for a new sword to rise up; but if the Sword strikes down Mormo, she’ll enter a 100-year sleep, and rise again once she rejuvenates. It sounds fairly cut and dried at the start, and the snarky character interactions are keen to remind you of this, but the longer you play, the more you come to understand that there are much larger gears turning behind the scenes of this seemingly simple conflict.
Now, I mention the snarky interactions because the dialogue tries to be funny on different levels. Sometimes I felt it hit the mark, and sometimes I felt it was going for a joke that just couldn’t stick the landing. There are so many ways they try to give out storyline while playing, and some may be lost on players, but I feel they did enough to get the main storyline out, since it isn’t exactly a linear experience.
Link’s Suburban Dungeon Adventure Time
As it goes with Swords of Ditto, it manages to fuse the open-world adventure and roguelike genres reasonably well, all while giving it a Zelda-lite feel. The controls are solid for the most part, though I feel like they are missing a couple of things. Outside of your normal movement with the left stick, action, and interact buttons, there is also a roll button that reminded me of Sonic’s roll. The roll is a nice addition when you’re fighting enemies—especially enemies with shields—as you can roll out of danger, then attack quickly. It would’ve been nice to see a dedicated run button to transverse the world, and a lock-on button when aiming or fighting.
You have a bag that allows you to maintain four items that can be used quickly, and you can jump into the menu and arrange your bag to your preference, changing things up as needed. As you’ll find fairly quickly, the world is filled with two things you’ll find a lot of: stickers and toys. The stickers can be used in various ways, like giving a buff to items or giving your character new skills and abilities, and the toys will range from the obvious, like a toy gun that’s similar to a nerf gun to hit far-to-reach switches, to a magical toy kazoo that will allow you to fast-travel throughout the Isle of Ditto.
Besides buying them from the toy store for more items, you can find them throughout the various dungeons in treasure chests and on the isle itself, as there is no lack of places to hide not only toys and stickers, but various food items, like a warm hot dog or doughnut to help revive your health. You’ll also find coins all over the isle from killing monsters, cutting back tall grass, smashing a skull left from previous explorers of the dungeons, and so many other places.
I was originally worried when I knew that the world was procedurally generated, but it felt very fleshed-out and organic. There are NPC’s you’ll encounter that will point you in certain directions and drop hints. That accompanied with data logs, newspaper articles, and recordings all start to weave a grander story, which had me scratching my head as to why the game was a roguelike.
Now, it’s not throughout the entire game that permadeath is in play, not until you face the big boss Mormo. If you die there, that’s it. You have to start all the way from the start, losing all your upgrades and so on. You can purchase revival essence to try and stave off the true death as long as possible. When this is used, you come back with full health and all your gear still. I personally like roguelikes but enjoyed the story. I wish they would’ve doubled down on the story and allowed the game to just play out normally, but I guess that’s why they included an easy mode that makes the game almost a walkthrough experience.
The enemies you encounter on your journey were all responsive, and the AI seemed to be done fairly well. The big sale for most is whether or not you can adjust to a roguelike in a Zelda-lite-style game. I personally wanted something like this, but then had regret when I died the first time, and initially didn’t want to go back just to take the chance of dying again; but I did and was successful, though I can see how it might scare off some.
The addition of co-op is a nice touch, as anyone from an adult to young kid will love running around playing this title. My son was no exception, as he loved it, but sometimes he’d get too close to a walkway leading to the other part of the map and we’d have to wait on a load screen, only to go back to where we were waiting again. The load times are shown here to be a tad long, but not too bad. I think it’s only spotlighted because of instances where you go where you didn’t want to go.
The main theme or quest is to defeat Mormo, and in doing so, you must release the four anchors. You’ll fight enemies in each area, and if you leave an area and come back, you’ll find they’ve re-spawned. You’ll encounter large dungeons where, when you complete them, you’ll face a dungeon boss. By defeating the boss you’ll release an anchor, making it easier to defeat Mormo at the end. You don’t have to go through this though, as you can just go to your bed and sleep until the big fight, and not power up or release the anchors, but I wouldn’t recommend it, as Mormo is no slouch, and you’ll need all the help you can get.
There are side quests, but they were fairly generic fetch quests that were rather boring, not adding anything to the story and overall game. The one thing that does follow over to your next run is your sword level, but it feels slightly negated, as all the enemies are now leveled up as well, and you lose rather hard-to-find abilities, which leaves me wondering, as I said before, was the roguelike element needed?
Audio & Visuals
The audio and visuals in Swords of Ditto are sublime. The soundtrack is bubbly, with catchy tunes that’ll have your foot tapping all along. The sounds are done incredibly well and sound amazing, from the monsters to the sword slashing through grass.
This is an absolutely gorgeous game, with bright colors and nice smooth textures; and I mean that in every way, as it looks like it was plucked straight out of Cartoon Network’s lineup next to Adventure Time or something of that caliber. All the NPC and enemies are all designed very well and are so cute that they make you want to see the potential show. Kids will easily be enamored by this one on both these merits.
It’s A Wrap!!!
The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse, from what I can tell, is a solid game. Though I never played it in its original format, from what I’ve read, I definitely prefer the updated version. I liked this game a lot, and I’d even go as far as to say I almost loved it. There are just a few things holding it back from being a title I’ll love for years to come, rather than being a placeholder to hold me over until Link’s Awakening shows up. For now, I’d still recommend you give it a try as Zelda fans will love it. Just be aware of the roguelike elements in the gameplay.
Buy The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Tinsley PR