Dandara is loosely based on the real-life story and legend of the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name from the late 1600s. You play as the titular hero, awoken to reshape the world of Salt, and save it from destruction. It’s a Metroidvania, but rather than simply being a pixelated side-scrolling adventure, Dandara and the world of Salt itself is not limited to one direction. The viewpoint shifts as you jump from wall to wall, because Dandara can’t walk. She’s stuck to the surface of the world, and can only jump from wall to wall. It’s one hell of a unique take on a platformer, that hits all the right spots. This is our Dandara review for Nintendo Switch.
Dandara’s a beautifully animated pixel game, that is to be sure. But it’s not the graphics you’ll want to play it for. The real prize here is the stunningly unique take on a Souls-like adventure. You will die in Dandara, and that’s OK. Expect to. Learning where things are in the world of Salt, and how to approach the enemies is all part of the process. As you explore the world, you’ll find camps (not unlike bonfires in Souls) where you can upgrade health, weapons, and so forth. The hard part, for me, was keeping myself alive long enough to take the “salt” with me to a camp. It’s kind of like XP, but you lose it each time you die and must get back to where you died to collect it. There’s no countdown timer, so it helps. But if you die again before collecting the first, you lose the first.
Dandara does follow the tried and true Metroid formula, though. You can explore the massive world in almost any way you choose, but a lot of areas will be closed off until you unlock powers to get them to open up. The game’s controls are brilliant, too. While you can only hop from wall to wall, the aiming needed to do so properly with Dandara is nice and loose. You don’t have to have pinpoint accuracy to make a landing on a wall. But you will need it to properly nail the enemies – and that’s where it gets tricky. Early areas don’t pose much threat, but some zones of Dandara’s adventure are pure bullet-hell madness – and I love it.
Dandara is a game all fans of Metroidvanias will want to try. It’s on the PS4, Switch, PC, and even iOS for a mere $12. Its adventure isn’t a super lengthy one, but for a game this unique, the handful of hours you’ll spend with the Brazilian-made game will be more than worth the price of admission. Recommended.
Note: Our copy was provided by PR for review.
Compare Dandara to: Axiom Verge, Metroid, Dark Souls