This review of ITTA was conducted using a product provided to me by Super Rare Games. This does not affect our judgment of the product and is explained for the purpose of transparency. This review is going to be a tad different from our normal reviews. This review will essentially be a two-in-one; reviewing both the game ITTA and the quality of product supplied by Super Rare Games.
Super Rare, Super Quality
First, in this review, we are going to discuss Super Rare Games. For those unfamiliar with this company, they specialise in taking indie games that released digitally and giving them a physical release. Launching their first game in February 2018, the company has since released one game a month. Now they hold the title of most physical Switch releases in Europe, and the second-most in the world. Each release is limited to a set number, hence “Super Rare”. Previous titles from the company include Human Fall Flat, The Darkside Detective, World of Goo, Little Inferno, and more.
Every release comes with a nice bundle of goodies; a licenced Nintendo Switch case and cartridge of the game, a full-colour manual, a sticker of the company logo, and trading cards based on the game. I was worried about the quality of the product if I am being honest. But whatever concerns I had were immediately quashed when I actually got the product into my hands. I honestly cannot tell the difference between a Super Rare release and a Nintendo release. This is likely due to the fact that these products are Nintendo licenced, and so have to meet the standards of Nintendo. I honestly cannot fault Super Rare Games at all, the quality of the product and everything it comes with is exceptional.
ITTA follows the story of Itta, conveniently. Awakening in a strange world, Itta finds herself surrounded by the corpses of her dead family. Even the family cat didn’t make it. As she stands there attempting to understand what just happened, a friendly spirit wanders into the room. It takes on the form of the family cat and offers to be Itta’s guide through the strange world so that she may return to her own world. The cat spirit then tells Itta to take her father’s revolver, explaining she will need it on her journey. The story unfolds through environmental storytelling. Through talking to people in the area, and through reading books you learn of the history of this land.
This land is a land of turmoil. A land where the dead do not remain dead, and in fact come back to life. Think of it as purgatory, a limbo of sorts. Those who find themselves in this world are simply stuck here. This is not for want of trying. The gate to this world remains closed, and can only be opened by the powerful spirits that reside there. Defeating these spirits unleashes their souls, which in turn powers the gate that Itta needs to return home. The lore of the land tells of numerous adventurers who had tried this very thing, only to give up. After multiple defeats, each adventurer eventually loses hope and simply accepts their fate. To be forever stuck in limbo.
The story of Itta, while deep and extremely interesting, is unfortunately easy to miss. Because the story is told through interacting with NPCs and reading books, it is easy to simply not discover them. Many of these are somewhat tucked away and, while I myself was able to find all (or at least most) of these, someone who doesn’t explore to the level I did may very well miss out on the story. It’s something that is unavoidable, given the way that Itta’s world has been designed, but is something to consider nonetheless. Unfortunately, the ending also raises more questions than it answers. The ending is very open to interpretation, maybe intentionally so. If you are someone who enjoys their games having a nice ending with no loose ends, I’m sorry to say you won’t be finding that here.
Itta’s gameplay comes in two parts; exploration and battles. Exploration takes up more of the game than you might expect. The world is split into three zones. Each zone contains numerous bosses, as well as NPCs and other collectibles. Early on though you will not have a map, which can make navigating the world a tad difficult but not impossible. As I hinted at above, much of Itta can be missed if you do not explore the world. I myself spent much of my time playing not realising that health upgrades, extra weapons, and even extra skills lay dotted around the world. These make the game easier but are not necessary.
The battles though are very much Itta’s redeeming quality. These play out as bullet-hell boss battles. For those unfamiliar, this is a style of game in which the screen is absolutely full of bullets. Precision timing and dodging are essential to completing each battle, as well as learning the moveset of that particular boss. This is something that the game suffers from when playing on Switch. The small sticks of the Joy-Con controller make precision aiming very hard. For some, this may add to the thrill and the challenge. For some, this may just annoy them. For me, it was a mix of both. It takes some time to get used to, but it is possible to learn how to aim the sticks properly. If you are reading this and thinking “Nah, that sounds kind of annoying” the game is available on PC also.
Itta’s gameplay causes it to have a “one more try” effect on the player. The realisation of just how close you were to winning, coupled with the progress you see each attempt, meant that I lost myself in the game many a time. I would go so far as to say ITTA is probably the perfect bullet-hell game when it comes to the gameplay.
Graphics & Audio
If I’m being honest, in the graphics and audio departments ITTA delivers average performance. The art style of the game is cute, and the soundtrack is enjoyable but neither of them does anything that another game hasn’t already done. That being said, I don’t think that this takes away from the game. After all, ITTA is a bullet-hell game, and you are playing it for the boss battles. The fact that the game delivers graphics and audio at, what I personally feel to be, the expected level is almost irrelevant given just how good the gameplay is.
This review of ITTA might feel a little short compared to some of the other reviews I have written, but there is a reason for this. At its core, ITTA is a simple game. A near-perfect bullet-hell experience. The game ignores any unnecessary bells and whistles to deliver the player exactly the experience they are after. There is even the option to become invincible, should you so wish. However, for some reason, this is behind an option labelled “accessibility” in the menu.
That being said a long startup screen, the occasional crash, and elements of the game that are easily missed do take away from the overall experience. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for an amazing bullet-hell experience, and can overlook these issues, ITTA is the game for you.