Friday, May 4, 2018

Game Diary - The Swords of Ditto.

I am, weirdly, more interested in exploring The Swords of Ditto than I am in returning to my second playthrough of God of War, and the game has largely kept me from Overwatch as well - so it is with a heavy heart that I advise you, if you wanted me to review Ditto right now, today?  Don't get it.

This hurts, because I absolutely adore this game.  I lurve it.  The concept of a single death sending you back to square one is a tough pill to swallow at first - even for I, a seasoned veteran of action-Roguelikes and Roguelites - but having defeated the evil of Mormo and brought peace to the land for 100 years, I'm cool with it.  The game is actually pretty darned easy - it's one of those titles where when you try to get killed, you realize it takes a lot more time than you'd expect.

You have to really work at it to die in Ditto, outside of boss encounters, and it's... okay, let me in-a-nutshell this game for you.

The basic structure is classic 2-bit Zelda, but every new roll Roguelikes the world up.  Everything important has moved, and various tiles of the world have random elements to discover - important shrines, side-dungeons, side quests, specialty stores - and the main dungeons themselves.

There are five main dungeons - the first one will grant you a Zelda-like special weapon that will be required to complete the next dungeon.  The second dungeon weakens the game's boss for the final fight.  The third dungeon is again a new item necessary for the fourth dungeon, which further weakens Mormo and made confronting her almost painless when I finally nailed it.

You can buy or find stickers - think of them as equipment which grant stats and abilities - and Toys of Legend, but none of these carry over beyond death.  What carries over are your gold reserves - very important - and special gems that you can use to bribe the celestial whale Goddess into granting you an extra life, or reversing time.

Oh yeah - you have a time limit to explore the world and prepare for your final confrontation with Mormo, but time freezes when you're in a dungeon, so it simply becomes important to budget your time in the overworld and get in cosy with the aforementioned cosmic whale.

So basically, imagined a solid Zelda game with incredible presentation that, after beating Ganon, if you decided to play again, every dungeon would be new, those special weapons you get to open further areas and solve puzzles will be different, those puzzles will require clever use of those new items - wonderful, fun replayability.

It's excellent and I love it.  Don't buy it.

The dungeons are wonderful.  As a veteran of Roguelites I can appreciate how these procedurally-generated crypts are effectively laid out, with puzzle rooms and keys and big keys and boss fights placed just so that all the pieces fall into place, and every dungeon dive is fun, and satisfying.

So imagine my surprise, last night, when I find myself in the second dungeon after having successfully defeated Mormo.  Ditto is under a curse, you see, that ensures it will be attacked by Mormo every 100 years - but every 100 years a chosen one will wield The Sword of Ditto, and has a chance to defeat her.  If you defeat her, 100 years later the world will be a bright, clean, cheerful place full of happy citizens.

If you fail, Mormo rules for a century, and the world you're trying to save (in addition to having a vastly different cast of enemies to fight) will be a nasty, ruined place full of townsfolk who don't think too much of the whole "chosen one" thing.

So anyway - point is - I'd defeated Mormo on my last playthrough.  This new one was vastly different from those before, and I was gleeful to continue exploring it, and imagine my surprise when I find myself in the second dungeon after defeating Mormo, and I'm unable to proceed.

Like there is no way through this dungeon.  There's no way to clear this room, there are no switches to flip, there is no way to open these doors.  It was so unbelievable to me - The Swords of Ditto had been of such reliable, easy-going quality up to this point - that I didn't believe it.  I re-explored the dungeon nearly a dozen times, convinced that I'd screwed up, somehow.

Eventually, I realized it was a bug and let myself die so the world could be made anew.  Sure, it wouldn't be the post-victory world, but at least I could actually make some progress, right?

Wrong.  The third room of the first required dungeon is similarly barred.  It's just a bug.  I checked out some forums, and apparently this is a thing that is happening to people and the devs are working on it super-hard and don't buy this game.

It's not ready yet.  It shouldn't've been released yet.  It's awesome and I love it and I wish I could play it.

So tonight, I walked away and - full of fear, as I've probably played literally four hours of Overwatch in the past month - I decided to check out the new payload map, Rialto.

I don't wanna' burden a team with my rusty Tracer, so I instalock Mercy - and I think it ended up a third-point hold. We had an Orisa, Junk, Hanzo, McCree and Soldier, and they had a Brigitte and a Lucio. When they can't hit the second checkpoint, the Brigitte switches to Mercy. She flies in, I immediately pop Valkyrie and kill her. T'was awesome.

For the next game, we're on attack. I go Tracer, and get a Winston, Mercy and Brig. The reds have a Sym, a Brigitte and a ton of DPS, and they hold us at the first point for a bit before we get a roll on, and just cruise it for most of the map. I take the high ground overlooking the enemy team on the bridge, burn three blinks to get behind them and score a triple Pulse for PotG.

We hit the final stretch, the enemy Sym has her ult up and our progress halts. They're holding us well back, so I do a hard flank and start backcapping the payload... but as we move towards the goal, sym turrets start appearing from around corners. I take them down and recall health, and only Sym comes to stop me. I whiff my pulse bomb on her, but kill her as she tries to turret the back of the payload, and am able to ride it home before she respawns - just as the enemy Junkrat comes through the door and blows me off the point.

I think I've exhausted my good fortune, I'm gonna' maybe play some God of War.

Oh and there was this amazing earlier moment when we'd just landed the third checkpoint, I leap off the payload, come around the corner and one of the reds had swapped to Junk.  They're spamming nades down an incline at me, and I don't burn any blinks, I just walk towards him while calmly sidestepping his grenades before turning, blinking sideways to within a few yards of him and emptying a solid clip. He panics and begins desperately backpedalling away, straight into my Hanzo's ult.

I return to my team, a little robbed but entirely satisfied.

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