Ever since reading the promo material for ITTA, I’ve been hyped about the game.
An indie twin-stick shooter available now on the Nintendo Switch and Steam, it has an adventure element to it that tells a powerful, yet dark story.
Waking in a pool of bodies, your father and brother are dead, and your mother is missing.
A cat joins you on the adventure, your astral guardian, and they craft a spirit weapon from your father’s revolver for you to locate your mother and find yourself on the same journey.
So how does ITTA perform? Was it worth the wait?
Time to find out in my…
…ITTA Switch Review
ITTA is developed by Glass Revolver – Jacob Williams, a one-man-band, incorporating a lot of the themes in the game from his personal experiences.
As a pixel art based game, I thought I would be put off a bit by the visuals, but I’m ‘grown-up’ enough to admit that my instincts are usually up the creek and often proved wrong.
The graphics are gorgeous; within the realms of the art style.
Itta’s world(the title character is a girl named Itta) is lush.
The limbo-like environment she occupies is like an abandoned ancient civilisation made up of stones, vines and waterfalls and are somewhat comfort food for RPG gamers of the 8-bit era.
I Like To Move It, Move It
Moving around the environments is easy enough; the left stick for movement, and the right stick for aiming – ZR to shoot – like Mana Spark, though due to the art style, there are a few areas that blend in a little and can sometimes be missed.
Because of this, there will be the odd moment of backtracking to work out where you’re supposed to be heading, but nothing that will have you confused for long.
Your time will be split up by exploring the areas, engaging with the odd NPC and multiple boss encounters.
There are a lot of hidden areas to find to where you can obtain new weapons, activated with a weapon wheel – L and R buttons, and Pure Spirit locations that permanently increase health.
Be aware that NPCs won’t repeat dialogue as I found out the hard way.
In some games, if you press a button in error to skip some text, or perhaps you want to go back for a hint, ITTA’s characters will only say something once – you can’t interact with them again.
The same is with the bosses – go back to an area where you had a battle, and it’s pretty desolate: no chance to replay a boss.
Like A Boss
Boss encounters in ITTA are some of the best I’ve ever experienced in a game.
The difficulty is almost set to ‘all-knowing’.
As each battle starts, you think to yourself:
Ah, this is pretty good. I have full health, and I’m doing a fair bit of damage. Why do they call this bullet hell, anyway?
Then it kicks in: a mindblowing assault of projectiles that fill the room, follow you about like a dog egg on your heel, where the pace feels like you’re underwater and in slow motion, yet there’s something about it being so frantic.
ITTA offers a moment of transcendence where you are completely calm, confident and competent in your actions.
Then the boss morphs once more and Monday’s pants shift to Thursday’s.
The bosses don’t appear to have names associated with them, so when you start dying you’ll have to tell your friends or Twitter followers “I got killed by the one with the pointy things”.
Which is almost all of them.
However, while the difficulty is intense, ITTA never feels unfair and is doable without the need to grind (there’s no option for it), but a blend of skill and perseverance.
Death Is An Empty Thought
I briefly questioned whether it was a bit of a cakewalk as I beat four or five bosses in a short period without dying, and I’m no uber gamer.
Then there was a boss that handed me my arse before I could take a third off of their health.
Death is like Dark Souls – you return to life, only you don’t lose anything in the process – including your dignity.
When you do die, it feels fair, and there aren’t any cheap shots to kill you off for the sake of it.
On the second attempt, I knocked off two-thirds of the troublesome boss’ health without obtaining any new weapons or health, so learning the patterns and devising a strategy isn’t out of reach.
But remember kids, the shotgun comes out trumps when in doubt.
It has to be said: ZL is the best button on the Switch.
Why is that? It’s the evade button that performs a forward roll.
Without any stamina bars, you can successfully pull off a roll continuously to avoid incoming damage – and expect that to be your method for every boss encounter.
When you roll, you’re temporarily invulnerable, but that doesn’t mean you can keep spamming it as the ballistics coming your way get in all the cracks.
Hence, you have to be continually moving, planning your moves while keeping the pressure on the enemy.
It sounds like a lot is going on, and while that’s true, the controls feel intuitive and are just an extension to yourself; there’s no lag that I encountered, and ITTA moved when I expected her to.
I’ve never had this much fun with boss encounters since dipping my schlong in their tea.
That’s not true. A work colleague did that once, however.
Skip To The End
ITTA has not remotely disappointed and has perhaps exceeded any expectations on how good this indie game could be.
The visual choice isn’t typically my preference but works well here as does the music, which I enjoyed.
A lot of care has gone into the development of this game, and it shows with the storytelling, but the most important aspect we need to acknowledge is ITTA is a game, and when it comes to gameplay, it’s brilliant.
If I am to compile a list of ‘the best indie games of 2020’, then ITTA would undoubtedly be in it.
Without having to battle real-life bosses, a review code was kindly provided for the game, and as much as I’d like to say my hands were crossed with silver, this elated review simply comes from playing the game. I loved it.