ITTA is really weird, complete with ghost cats, chaotic gameplay and a chilling story. ITTA seems to draw clear inspiration from a varied group of games from the past 20 years. Does this compilation of influence pay off or does ITTA suffer from these weird mixtures and complexities of modern gaming?
ITTA is probably the most wonderfully weird game I’ve ever played. The game’s progression structure is designed like Shadow of the Colossus: there aren’t really any enemies in the overworld (besides little shadows you can kill for extra health) and you progress by defeating one of the game’s 18 bosses and subsequently gaining access to a new area. The bosses are varied and intense, and the game itself can be extremely difficult. I say “can be” because of how difficulty settings can give you an edge over a frustrating boss. Instead of being laid out in Easy, Normal and Hard settings, the game has a default difficulty and gives the player the option to be invincible and/or deal double damage. Whenever I got stuck, I found the Double Damage option to be sufficient to make the fight easier but still a decent challenge. Invincibility was less appealing to me, since you can just spray randomly without concern for strategy or accuracy.
There are a variety of weapons hidden around the map. This seems to be in order to give variety to how you dispatch the bosses, but I found myself resorting to the shotgun for most boss fights. The shotgun being as overpowered as it is kind of defeats the purpose of the developers intent. I found myself thinking, ‘sure this new weapon is cool, but the shotgun works so much better’.
The combat reminds me of Undertale: you must dodge the patterned red projectiles of the bosses while you aim your weapon with the right joystick and fire back. It can be difficult but it is incredibly satisfying when you defeat a difficult boss. There was a bit of lag in the later boss fights, but it was minimal and didn’t have a significant impact on gameplay.
I played this game using both a Pro Controller and the Daemon X Machina Split Pad Pro. The Pro Controller allows for HD Rumble, which adds a nice recoil effect for each gunshot, but I found myself preferring the Split Pad, despite lacking this function. The Split Pad Pro features button mapping and an old school turbo setting that makes rolling out of harm’s way in ITTA much easier. This controller makes playing in handheld mode necessary, so the trade off will depend on your play style.
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The most important thing about ITTA is that you can pet sheep. Does anything else really matter?
The world of ITTA is relatively small, comprised of three main areas with 18 bosses and a small number of NPCs. Its small size doesn’t diminish the beauty of the landscape because it changes slightly as you progress and NPCs move to various different locations. The main overworld is a lush forest filled with ancient ruins and statues. There aren’t really any environmental hazards so the overworld primarily serves as a neutral space between boss battles that requires you to backtrack and progress depending on the number of bosses you’ve defeated. The backtracking isn’t a chore like it can be in other games, due to the entire map’s small size. The overworld is something beautiful to behold and exploration comes naturally.
The story begins with the titular Itta waking up in a small cave to find the corpses of her father, brother and cat lying around her in a pool of pixelated blood. Itta then sets off to find her missing mother and escape from the strange land they find themselves in. The most remarkable thing about this story is the amount of characterization that occurs in the small snippets of dialogue that occur between Itta and the other characters. You see every character change as the story progresses. This seems to be another benefit of having a small game: instead of drowning in a sea of NPCs you don’t care about, you get to follow the small group of interesting characters and try to piece together their vague backstories through creepy and beautifully written dialogue.
Graphics / Art Direction
ITTA‘s graphics are simple yet violent. The pixelated sprites are fluid and sophisticated and the character models in dialogue boxes are detailed and rich. The game has a weird atmosphere overall; mixing the verdant greens of the trees and grass with the hard grey of the statues and the startling red of blood results in a pleasing look with moments of brilliant discomfort all denoted by the use of color. This is one of those games that makes you stop and look at the world around you for a minute, despite the utter simplicity of the style.
Music / Sound Design
The music instantly reminded me of both Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and the Gameboy Advance Pokémon games. It has the unsettling atmospheric tones of the former and the neo-pixelated sound and repetitive nature of the latter. The end result is something that feels full despite limiting itself.
Final Score: 92%
ITTA is the distilled essence of what makes a good indie game with clear influence from both the indie community and more mainstream sources. The main characteristics of a great indie game are in its simplicity: the key of making a game like ITTA is the balance between minimalism and beauty. The developers took all these small elements (the pixelated graphics, simple gameplay, dialogue) and used them all to their fullest to create something really special. The only issues I had with this game are the repetitive combat and short nature. These don’t detract much from the experience, but they are worth noting. The overall quality of ITTA is something that most indie developers shoot for and fall short of; they’ve made the game as simple as possible and to have achieved what they gave is truly remarkable.
Thank you for checking out our ITTA Switch review, thank you to Armor Games Studios and Game If You Are PR for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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