The procedurally-generated game world is reassembled from component pieces each time you return, so the layout is never the same but each area is hand-crafted – so there’s none of the sterile sameness that often accompanies roguelikes. It looks great, but this means the overworld is rather small and the dungeon puzzles lack any real complexity or variation. As switch-pressing, floor spike-avoiding problems go they’re perfectly engaging but not in the same way as a true Zelda game.
Mormo’s Curse also adds new environments, including an EarthBound style town and a scrapyard full of robots, which adds greatly to the visual variety. There’s also a range of secret dungeons and Monster Hunter style bounties that give you bonuses for defeating more powerful enemies. The endgame also makes it much more obvious what you’re actually supposed to do in order to defeat Mormo for good.
The permadeath and time limit both felt like mistakes in the original game but the inevitable problem with removing them is that it pushes the game much closer to being a straight Zelda clone, but it can’t possibly compete on that level because the small, procedurally-generated world and simplistic dungeons are never that interesting. They weren’t designed to be either and while no one’s going to miss the discarded features it’s now clearly obvious why they were originally there.
In that sense Mormo’s Curse is a fascinating example of how attempting to fix the flaws of a game can create just as many problems as it solves. This is definitely the superior version of The Swords Of Ditto but it’s still a flawed experience that never quite lives up to the quality of the visuals or the imagination behind the enemies and items.
For that you’d need a full sequel, one that fully embraces either being a Zelda clone or a more traditional roguelike. Trying to be both at the same time still doesn’t quite work, even with all of the improvements of Mormo’s Curse, but if the developer can focus on just one or the other then a new follow-up could finally break the curse of falling between two stools.
The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse
In Short: A mixture of roguelike and Zelda: A Link To The Past that looks and plays extremely well, but even with some notable improvements still doesn’t get the balance quite right.
Pros: Great visuals and music, with plenty of Zelda-style gadgets, varied monsters, and great co-op options. Lots of new content, including the removal of permadeath and the time limit.
Cons: By downplaying the roguelike elements the game struggles to offer a deep Zelda experience, with shallow dungeons and a disappointingly small overworld.
Formats: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: 2nd May 2019
Age Rating: 3
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