Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, IOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS Rating: E for Everyone 10+
In an industry dominated by games from the United States and Japan, other countries seem to fall by the wayside in terms of notoriety toward the games created there.
That is why we are reviewing the Brazilian-developed metroidvania game Dandara.
The story focuses on Dandara, a woman who fights against the oppressors of her homeland, known as the world of Salt, to uphold the freedom of her people. While the story may seem generic at first, the story holds many deviations to that formula and has a few emotional moments alongside some unfore-seen twists.
The game looks beautiful, emulating the styles of 16-bit games from the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis era with a touch of modern flare to give it its own style. The world is brilliantly designed and is filled with delightful little details that hint at the game’s Brazilian origins. The world has various different areas that range from sprawling forests to dystopic, futuristic cities. The music, while not outstanding, does its job well enough in making the world feel real.
In the world of Dandara, there is no gravity. Instead of jumping, Dandara dashes from specific platforms labelled white with the game’s signature ‘salt’. This movement system is expanded upon over the course of the game implementing moving platforms, spinning blocks and even sliding rails that are propelled by the moment of your attacks.
These methods of traversal encourage the player to explore the lush, detailed environments with secrets to unfold. This is reinforced by the rewards they can find such as health and energy recovery potions, health upgrades and salt orbs to increase various stats. Though these orbs are also obtained through combat, the game incentivizes exploration over grinding the same enemies for orbs. Though I initially had issues with the key map and how it was very vague about your current location, a recent update allowed for the map to be rotated to match where your character is located on screen. The update also highlights where Dandara is located on the map. Still, it’s best to have a mental map of where you are since you shouldn’t be overly reliant on the key map that the game provides.
Alongside exploration, combat is the main focus of Dandara’s gameplay. Enemies come in several types. Some lock on to your location with projectiles. Some will reckless charge at you. Others will make the ground you’re standing on dangerous. Regardless, you are going to die often. As the enemies stack up, pressures rises and proper positioning is vital to defeating them. Enemies aren’t the only things to worry about since many environmental hazards are present such as electricity spikes and automated laser beams. And when you die, you can recover any lost orbs you had from the place you died at. This is a welcome inclusion as it allows players to not be fully punished for being unprepared.
The combat truly shines thanks to the game’s bosses. They are all uniquely designed and intelligently implement the mechanics that have been taught in the game thus far. The combat is so intuitive that by the time you reach the first boss, you WILL learn how to best position yourself to take down enemies.
The game clocks in at around eight hours which is an amazing deal for only $15. Though it may take some time for players to get accustomed to its unique movement system, Dandara will definitely take players on a challenging adventure, especially if they’re a fan of metroidvania games.