Throwback Review: ITTA – Dodge, Shoot, and Die

ITTA is one of those titles that has done justice to the bullet-hell genre. Clearly, the title borrows several inspirations from Smash TV, Ikaruga, DoDonPachi, and Total Carnage. And if you’ve played or already heard of these, you know you’re in for a hellish experience.

Released back in April 22, 2020, ITTA was developed by one solo developer known as Glass Revolver. The latter has only made two games so far: House of God and ITTA, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Jacob Williams has in store.

ITTA tells the story of a cute little girl who’s thrown into an obscure world brimming with terror and despair without much hope. Itta wakes up in a strange cave surrounded by the corpses of her dead family, but shortly after, she’s joined by a white spirit who personifies her long-dead cat. The spirit’s goal is to guide Itta throughout her strange quest by giving her hints on what to do afterward, and even checking up if she’s doing fine or struggling.

Itta Screenshot 2021.06.06
No, it didn’t, but I got stronger.

After walking for a couple of seconds, Itta stumbles across her father’s revolver that quickly comes into action the moment you pick it up. ITTA’s story is melancholic since the little girl is tasked with freeing the souls of the dead because that’s what the game is all about, death and purgatory.

The story is often told through books that Itta stumbles across throughout her journey. The NPCs play a role as well, but the story of ITTA is pretty complicated in the sense that it leaves too many questions unanswered, or it’s up to the player to imagine.

The titular girl, after obtaining the gun, must explore the dilapidated ruins, converse with NPCs and uncover the reason why she was reborn. Her journey isn’t going to be a walk in the park. She’ll confront brutal monsters spewing thousands of bullets, bombs, missiles, and even demons out of nowhere. It gets crazier the further you dive deep into ITTA‘s nonlinear overworld.

Itta Screenshot 2021.06.06
The face you make after dying for the 9th time.

One thing I enjoyed about ITTA is the fanciful world which reminded me of titles like Hyper Light Drifter and Titan Souls. It’s meticulously crafted with beautiful sceneries and pretty visuals. Yet, I felt the world was pretty empty with nothing else to do. I’m not saying this is a bad thing because it kind of reminded me of Fumuito Ueda’s titles like ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian.

The influence of these three games is obvious as there are no enemies to fight in ITTA. Instead, you have to indulge in a boss rush where you fight one boss after another. Unfortunately, there are no tutorials in ITTA to teach you how to survive showdowns against bosses. You’ll have to figure that on your own because that’s what a bullet-hell game is all about.

ITTA being a bullet-hell game isn’t a compliment, it’s a fact. Enemies are hostile and have one thing on their mind, to finish you off. I played the game on PC using a keyboard and mouse, but even that didn’t make the game any easier. ITTA is extremely challenging and it succeeds at teaching you how to become better and quicker the further you play.

Itta Screenshot 2021.06.06
Let’s rest here after a brutal boss fight.

In ITTA, you can shoot using several types of guns like a shotgun, rocket, grenade, and machine gun. The best thing is that you don’t need to worry about any ammo because it doesn’t exist in the first place. I can only imagine if ammo existed, that would have made things much more difficult.

You can also dodge bullets by pressing the right-click or just avoid projectiles by moving around. However, even with the best weapons, if the player doesn’t learn from their mistakes and memorize the attack patterns, they’ll have a hard time finishing ITTA.

One thing I didn’t like about ITTA is its rapid difficulty spike. For instance, you’ll be confronting a boss, but just as their health is close to perishing, the difficulty hits the roof and bosses start summoning something out of the blue, transform, and spew thousands of bullets that cannot easily be dodged. It quickly turns into a mess on your screen, but for die-hard fans of the genre, this is no big deal.

Itta Screenshot 2021.06.06
The visuals in ITTA reminds us of Hyper Light Drifter

The difficulty spike is something you’ll notice from the get-go. Every boss in ITTA is a pain, and dying in the game is inevitable because you’ll die more than twice. I feel that this mechanic kind of teaches the player how to be patient and not rush into the action blindly. It is something that reminded me of Jotun. The player has to be patient and wait for any openings before initiating any attacks while dodging hits left and right

However, the developer was aware that the game may be unforgiving for some, especially those who are just getting their feet into the bullet-hell genre. That is why ITTA includes an option to turn on invincibility and multiply the damage you inflict to enemies. This option makes ITTA accessible to a larger audience and not just cater to the hardcore players who don’t mind struggling.

Overall, you’ll be enjoying your time in ITTA. Its pixelated world, and the relaxing atmosphere work as incentives to suck you back into the realm. I think that the constant shifting between a relaxing world to a brutal boss fights suits ITTA‘s gameplay. After a ruthless fight against a boss, you deserve to just relax and wander around.

In the end, ITTA is a great game for anyone looking for a unique experience. It is a difficult game, but thanks to the accessibility options, it will cater to those who just want to have fun instead of struggling for hours against an angry boss.

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