I did not think it was possible but Dandara proves that you can make a metroidvania without running or jumping. When you think it has been launched on mobile devices, the way the heroin holder moves in his environment is a surprisingly elegant and unique solution around the boundaries of touch screens for a game like this. In Dandara, you move by aiming for specific white surfaces on walls and ceilings and panting. This may seem strangely obtuse, but when you see it in action next to blasting and eluding enemies and obstacles, it looks incredibly cool. Yes, it’s technically a two-year-old game now, but this new improved version (known as dandara: Trials of Fear Edition) is the most complete and definitive way to play this underestimated index darling.
If you are looking for a deeply captivating story to accompany the platform and filming fast, you would have trouble finding it in Dandara. It is not completely non-existent, but it definitely takes a rear seat at the gameplay. It takes place in a place called Salt who seems to have suffered a deep tragedy that oppressed his citizens. Just like the world is about to collapse, Dandara wakes up like a lighthouse for the inhabitants of Salt. You can make parallels and metaphors with the real world from its slightly political prospects, but I can not say that the game really has something important to say. It has not embarrassed my general pleasure at all, and its lack of history should not deter you from trying it honestly.
It seems that a new Metroidvania game is published almost every day, to the point where they all start to mix. There are very good – steamworld dig 2 and axiom verge come to mind – but it becomes more and more difficult for them to stand out from the pack. Some have a distinct graphic style (Pus: an Élysian tail) or cook in thug-cuffs (_Cells dead). In Dandara, it is the crossing system that is in the spotlight. White dots, known in the game as Salt, are scattered in the environment and are used to move Dandara through each z1. Just target the left joystick at these places and press the corresponding button to launch in this direction. The salt is virtually everywhere, on the ceilings and walls, on rotating and mobile platforms – you get the essentials. This mechanism makes navigation on the map much more interesting and involved.
Dandara can stick to any white surface, so gravity has no effect on it. It’s better not to dwell over physics, but it creates rather nice moments of action. The first time you elete an enemy projectile by tacking on the ceiling, then launching a counter-attack, it’s great or when you eliminate robot bugs with some load explosions while remaining on a rotating platform, It continues to be very satisfactory.
If you end up taking a shot in the jump, you stay suspended in the air, as in space. In addition to losing a little life, you still have to make your next move fast enough. Do you take the chance to finish an enemy or come back to a safe place to trace a different strategy? Dandara always retains the same sensitivities of a Metroid or Castlevania but it is presented as something completely new.
Explore the world of Salt is a total explosion. It is a Metroidvania on the other hand, which means that you meet inaccessible areas the first time until you find the tool or the necessary element to continue. Things start enough directly, but after the first fight against a big boss, the card really starts to expand and test your skills. Everything is interconnected through a series of pieces, but there are distinct areas that act as individual worlds. See what is hiding behind every new door has never aged. Whether it’s a brand new type of enemy to slaughter, or out of reach of the chest or just admiring the beautiful backgrounds, a new surprise is never too far.
Dandara is a difficult game. I would not say it’s punishing like the games Soulsbourne, but it tested me more than just times. Accelerate the game is far from ideal because there are many hairy situations that you will encounter involving difficult enemies or delicate and mortal puzzles. If there is a tip that I can give, it would be to take your time. Unless I come back to an area that I revisited several times, rushing through Dandara will probably make you see the game on the screen in seconds. To die is not the worst thing. It brings you back to the last time you visited a campsite. What is painful, however, is to lose all your salt, the resource that improves your statistics.
Let me explain. Killing enemies, blow up obstacles and open chests will bring you salt. Earn enough and you can improve and improve dandara in a campsite. You can choose to increase the amount of hearts you have or increase the amount of energy and health you receive objects. The upgrade of Dandara is virtually essential as you get closer to the end and you face more difficult challenges. To die, however, potentially wants to lose all your salt. To die refers you to the nearest campsite where you have one last chance to recover all your salt at the exact place where you are dead. If you die again by doing this, you can embrace all those sweet and sweet goodbye of Salt. It’s a bit like Dark Souls when we think about it.
There is also an intelligent risk / reward system here. Resting in a campsite resets all the enemies you killed, with the exception of bosses. In other words, reconstructing your health or improving your abilities means repelling your opponents again, which can be a problem if you have to return to a previous room. Choosing to skip camping and keeping all your salt means that enemies remain dead. For my style of play, I always stayed at the camp but there was a handful of times I took the risk of continuing just so as not to relive some difficult areas.
It’s also a very satisfactory gameplay loop. I loved exploring new areas and not really know where to go. Most 2D platforms give you a brand or destination to reach. Dandara, on the other hand, omits it and puts the freedom in your hands. It does not hold your hand and it’s a better game because of this, forcing players to conquer the world and formulate their own way to the next boss. Of course, there is a small bump to overcome in terms of accessibility, but after having a little felt, it’s wonderfully refreshing for a Metroidvania.
Whether you have played the basic game in 2018 or you would hear about the game now, this new edition of Trials of Fear adds a lot of new things to the original. There are new areas to explore, new powers to upgrade, a new boss to conquer and all new music to listen. Even better, the Long Hat House developer team gives these tricks for free, which is a super nice gesture. It really looks like an appropriate update, which helps to expand parts of the history and the world. Newcomers will not notice it, but the fans will eat it for sure.
There is not much to hate about Dandara. This could certainly be more accessible for beginners, but any player who has already played at Metroidvania should have an idea of what to expect. What is unexpected is the completely cool and tripper crossing system. It may take a while to get used to it, but it’s very intuitive. The precise design of Dandara and meetings with enemies are memorable in a genre that begins to be overcrowded. The story has nothing to tell, but Dandara is catching up with a fun and stimulating gameplay. Whatever the platform of your choice, Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition must be your next game.