When we first launched our ‘Inspired By Zelda’ themed week over at Zelda Dungeon, someone commented in one of the earlier articles that he couldn’t wait to hear my thoughts about a game called Ittle Dew 2+. I responded to him that, unfortunately, not only were we not writing about it that week, but I’d never even heard of that game. The commenters was disappointed, so I promised him I’d give it a play.

So I did. And wow.

Not every article in this series will necessarily be a glowing review of a Zelda-like game, but I’m lucky enough to start off this month on a great note again, following in the footsteps of last months Stranger Things: The Game. I can safely say for those fans of the Zelda series who enjoy the puzzle and dungeon aspects above everything else, Ittle Dew 2+ is for you.

Immediately, this game made a good first impression. When I ordered my copy, it arrived with a nice little instruction booklet, with a map of the island the game takes place on drawn on the back. It’s such a simple thing, but it really helped me get a good feel for the game right away, and since I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff, I was ready to love Iddle Dew. All I needed now was a gentle shove from the game and it would have me.

As I quickly found, ‘gentle’ is not Ittle Dew’s style. This game pushed me off a friggin’ cliff, and I loved every minute of it.

Ittle Dew 2, developed by a small indie studio from Sweden called Ludosity, starts you off in a very NES-Zelda way: you, Ittle Dew and her dog buddy Tippsie, are stuck on an island needing to get 8 pieces of raft to get the heck out of there. That’s it. You go from there, and the world is your oyster. There are a bunch of different regions of the map, you can finish the dungeons in any order you like, and there’s power-ups and other collectables to scratch your treasure hunting itch.

The games overworld is neat enough – a snowy region, haunted forest, a SuperMarioRPG-like starry hilled area, etc. – but it probably won’t blow you away. The main dungeons of Ittle Dew 2 are all tight and charming. All eight dungeons reward you with some pretty cool stuff and take place in some pretty zany areas – the art museum dungeon filled with monsters especially stood out to me.

Item progression works in a very similar fashion to A Link Between Worlds. You can get any item at any time, so re-rummaging through areas you’ve already cleared with new gear will probably get you some spiffy upgrades or hidden cards. Combat works similarly too – there won’t be any surprises here for Zelda vets.

If it doesn’t sound like I’m talking this game up much, it’s because at this point, after cleaning all of the dungeons and grabbing the raft pieces, I’ll admit to not being blown away. Don’t get me wrong – I had a lot of fun with my adventure so far, but I wouldn’t have put it up there with the Zelda-like greats like Okami and Blossom Tales.

But then Act Two started, and oh my.

Ittle Dew was almost a tale of two games for me – the first being the game that offered this great island adventure full of collectables and secrets. The second… the game that dropped an atom bomb on my brain with its puzzles.

If you track down a certain amount of collectables, additional bonus dungeons will open up. These guys are absolute monsters. Tough battles, trippy rooms, smart layouts… this was something clearly designed for players that knew what they were doing. All three optional dungeons were progressively harder, and felt more and more rewarding as I beat them.

But that wasn’t all.

For those wondering, the ‘+‘ in Ittle Dew 2+ refers to the extra content the Switch version of Ittle Dew 2 received. In it, there is a series of different dungeons located in a Dream World above and separate from the main map.

And holy ****.

Take everything I said about the puzzles and room layouts in the bonus dungeons and multiply it tenfold. These puzzles were some of the most mind bending ones I’ve ever played, in any genre. Ludosity came up with ways to use my items I hasn’t even considered. Some of the ways to use my momentum were either genius or insanity; often, their dungeons were a mixture of both.

Each different dungeon centered around a different dungeon item, but even then, nothing felt obvious. I would put these rooms up there with some of the most intense puzzles a Zelda game, or even a game like Portal, could throw at you and not think them out of place. Without wanting to give anything away, some of the solutions were so insane to pull off and so out there to think of that I was left wondering how some people had figured it out at all (you may think I’m over-exaggerating, but I’d like to think I’m pretty good at these games and I was combing the internet like a first day Zelda player looking for walkthroughs – most of which didn’t exist yet. It was that tough).

In fact, that may be the games only big weakness – there is no help for you whatsoever when you get stuck, and FAQ’s are scarce. I had a hell of a time during the final stretch, and players without as much patience (or stubbornness) will probably just end up walking away. But, man, when you finally do beat those dungeons, it’s euphoric. The sense of pride and accomplishment I felt was through the roof.

So there you go Zelda fans. If the puzzling aspect of the Zelda series is your bread and butter, go crazy on this game. I’d love to see how some of you guys do in these last couple dungeons – mostly to see if I’m just a wimp, or if you think they are as ridiculous as I’m saying.

That’s Inspired By Zelda for this month! Next month, I’ll be taking a look at a game that replicated the first minute of Breath of the Wild’s trailer almost verbatim, and seeing if it can replicate the unforgettable experience the latest Zelda offered us with it’s own twist on Mexican mythology. Until then!

Andy Spiteri is the Editor-In-Chief of Zelda Dungeon. For more Inspired By Zelda goodness, check out the previous articles here, and tweet the games you wanna see him cover over on Twitter
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