Metroidvania is a title much used these days, and probably gets much criticism from a present Switch library awash with games attached to this genre. In this review, we revert back a year, to a game with all the traits of a typical metroidvania, but introduced a control mechanic that made it play and feel that little bit different from all the others.
How does it fare today, against the likes of Bloodstained, Hollow Knight and Dead Cells?
The story is very short, and introduces your character Dandara, as a “Child of Creation” that is brought into a world split between good and evil, and most surely the only saviour that can bring about peace and stability, should she find the right allies and abilities in order to do so. Like many metroidvania titles, Dandara must explore each area of the world,collecting salt from defeated enemies, chests, or areas of foliage and then use it to upgrade abilities at any campsite she discovers. These areas are scattered around the map and act as save points, and a respawn area should she die.Death means the loss of any accumulated salt, but on respawn, Dandara can reclaim it, should she reach the last point she died, and contact her ghost image. (Dark Souls style)
The controls for this game, are what makes it unique and a tad different from games of this genre.Dandara will not walk and run, but instead, travels from wall to wall like an hyperactive cricket or spiderman in velcro! Left stick just selects a line of travel (rather like a laser sight on a rifle) and A to launch yourself at the next wall. The same can be said for the firing mechanic, again left stick to aim and X to fire. The skill comes with actually studying the layout of each area, as Dandara can only jump to the white lined portions of each wall,thus requiring a plan of strategy to move around safely. A puzzle in itself! It does take a bit of getting used to, but soon you will be zig- zagging walls to avoid enemy fire, and Boss attacks in no time.
Graphically, everything is nicely rendered with areas not overfilled with too much detail. Each specific area is themed and looks slightly different.From sparse trees in woodland, to alleys and streets with trash cans and street lights.
Sound is a nice theme throughout and not repetitive with gameplay smooth and fluid with no signs of slowdown in any part.
Overall, Dandara is a very good game experience. Its mechanics may take some to get used to, and there is a “grind” element throughout, in order to upgrade and reach further areas, most commonly used in these type of games. A year and a half later, it is certainly no Dead Cells beater, but parallel with the likes of Sundered and Steamworld Dig2, in terms of a slightly different metroidvania, its a worthy companion to anyone’s collection.
Thanks to #RipFury for the code.