Dandara Review — A Metroidvania Worth its Salt

PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Developer Long Hat House’s Dandara is merely a conceptually pleasing game. Rethinking the conventional  Metroid– kind game from the bottom up, Dandara approaches a near-saturated genre with new takes that genuinely turn gameplay on its mind.

Dandara is without a doubt a merger of old and new ideas. On a single point of this spectrum, the game offers the normal (and equally relevant) Metroidvania design. Beginning with nothing, you develop Dandara’s arsenal over time during boss battles, and quest, backtracking. The game’s map is split up into segments that were visually-distinct which you are encouraged to poke-and-prod your way through to get the next treasure chest with upgrades. The formula has been true and tried, and fulfilling as it was 30 years ago — some thing which should be so obvious since its a format among titles.

On the flip side, Dandara‘s primary draw is its own complete reversal of this genre: specifically, the stationary-based motion and dizzying zero-gravity design choices. Clearly, the   Metroid series (and games which follow in its footsteps) snare down the most important gameplay parts on freedom — totally free running, double jumping, and everything in-between are staples of the genre. While   Metroid: Samus Returns may not be the ideal example of this (thanks to a divergence into more static gunplay), additional Metroidvania names like   Ori and the Blind Forest place the focus on different types of movement and more fluid gameplay altogether.

Dandara Review -- A Metroidvania Worth its Salt

Comparatively, Dandara seems to do the opposite entirely: it hooks you to the floor. As you browse through the map, Dandara will proceed to surface without management. When landing on a surface, you are ready to direct Dandara’s movement from a stationary location and also take aim at enemies. Movement would be the next best thing to teleportation using alterations. Will be about the off chance enemy projectiles hit you.

Even though the gameplay might seem annoying at first glance, it’s amazingly dynamic in execution.   Dandara retains  an almost indescribable weightless and directionless momentum that feels publication into the genre and addictive once you get into a groove.   The combat system clicks and what feels like its salt … to speak, when you shoot the gap between 2 enemy projectiles only to twist and decimate them with a missile.

That only happens after you learn to master the mechanics which are true alien when compared to other games available on the market. And, while I think that’s a respectable thing in any genre which feels insistent, it comes alongside a difficulty curb initially. As long as you don’t mind challenging yourself and going outside your boundaries  regarding control strategies, everybody should get beyond this hurdle right away.

While   Dandara does raise heavily from the Metroidvania genre, additionally, it grabs from your rogue-lite risk/reward currency system found in Dark Souls or even  Shovel Knight. By destroying items and enemies around the map, Dandara will collect salt that may be used at campsites to upgrade anything from things to existence. But before making it to the next 12, in case you die you’ll leave a blue spirit that you can return to and regain the salt. Naturally, before reaching your salt that is missing if you die, it is going to be gone completely. The thought isn’t original, but it does add a drive to perform life.

And while the special gameplay style finally comes into  Dandara‘therefore prefer, additional gameplay elements fall relatively flat in comparison — though never bad. This includes enemy variety, the design that is audio, the soundtrack, along with the artstyle. As I mentioned, nothing about any of these elements were terrible since it never felt noteworthy at the grand scheme of this game. My motivation bothers me was the often-addictive gameplay loop, maybe not progressing a story or watching what weapons that the game could unveil.

Dandara Review -- A Metroidvania Worth its Salt

And I suppose this is the case across the board except for a single caveat: Dandara herself. Among the areas of the game is how Brazillian-based programmer Long Hat House stylized. For those who aren’t to the up-and-up about background, Dandara proved to be a real person — a near-legendary heroine in abolitionist movement and feminism. A man rooted in history, although she is a persona lionized today across minority moves from that area and isn ’ t just a creation like Owlboy or even Ori.

That said, Long Hat Studios would never let you understand that on a surface-level playthrough of the game. Despite a background that is rife in both political and ideological message, not one of it is pushed down your throat (or even mentioned) in the game which stays almost narrative-free. Instead, the in-game Dandara is an unspoken badass that occurs to be a woman protagonist that is black, not a one-dimensional personality. In a contemporary gaming scene, it feels like the closest parallel to Samus Aran in the original   Metroid — an unwitting heroine that would mostly surprise players.

The strategy to personality aids the game at large political points made in indie names but builds interest in Dandara as a figure and a personality. Half the reason why I know what I do about the figure is the in-game mystique guided me to look into the roots of the title and what it was based on.

Though its exceptional jelqing gameplay may have you ever stumbling at first, motion turns into an art form as you get used to this. And though not everything around  Dandara stands outside, the titular character is executed so masterfully it’s difficult not to be impressed with the folk-lore based heroine.

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