Dandara may be a game you haven’t heard of, but it’s a game you need to be aware of especially if you’re a Metroidvania fan. Combining platform combat, some amazing art styles, geometric puzzle solving and a Dark Souls experience system – Dandara has become one of my new favourite games.
There isn’t much of a story here, the world you’re in is being controlled by a big overlord who has set ‘rules’ meaning you can’t move past certain areas, salt is a precious resource and is the source of your powers (at least that’s how you upgrade them and everyone keeps talking about it, so ya know…) and Dandara is the key to giving the people of this world a better life. The rules are usually platforms that you unlock by meeting a new pal who gives you the ability to move them, or go through them, use them to go further etc… to continue to the next area. So sounds pretty straightforward so far, unlock platforms, fight baddies, upgrade your health, kill the boss. However the way it goes about this is what makes this game stand out from the crowd.
Dandara can only jump diagonally from wall to ceiling to floor, she can’t just run along like your normal gaming folk. If a surface is white you can jump to it, however you can’t jump too far and obviously there are obstacles in the way in the form of monsters, terrain and puzzles. As you progress the puzzles become more difficult as do the enemies, you can only kill them by using a charged shot so not only are you avoiding their attacks but you also need to be set up to take them down whilst charging – this is particularly potent during boss fights as they’re continually firing at you so you must dodge in good time to charge your shot and get it off. You’re also pretty limited with the range of your shot so it’s not like you can stand really far away. There is quite a variation of enemy; some will block your way, others fire at you or even fly at you, they also tend to change their patterns keeping you on your toes. When you pull off some quick platforming and take down a couple of the bad guys you really feel like a badass flipping ninja and I liked that the game felt quite rewarding when working your way around a puzzle or a particularly tricky boss or enemy.
The levels themselves can be almost maze like, you’re continually having to go through different doors and working your way round to eventually end up in the right place, quite often you’ll be led to a new mate who will unlock a certain type of platform resulting in progression. I keep saying levels but this doesn’t really apply as the game is continuous, you don’t ever really have to stop and ‘stage select’ you just jump in and keep progressing, looping back around to safe areas in the form of tents, which is where you upgrade your abilities. Experience comes in the form of salt, gained by smashing boxes or killing; however if you die a floating version of yourself is left there with all your experience, meaning you need to make your way back to that point without dying to get it all back.
Lastly I just really enjoyed the way it all looked, it has this really stylish painted pixel look with every enemy area looking really quite different to the last. Coupling the nice art style is a really great, ambient sound which really immersed me even more so in this world. A beat which slowly builds up as you get further along. Basically it looks and sounds beautiful and gives a real sign this game was made with care.
That’s all I can say really, Dandara is simple platforming done really well and with a twist. I really do recommend this game as I’m having a lot of fun with it. I give it a: