Dandara is an action game where you can’t run. Your character leaps from wall to wall across massive maps while battling bosses and collecting power ups. It takes the exploration of Metroid and adds a tonne of style.
Created by Brazilian developer Long Hat House, Dandara tells the story of a warrior who must save the world from an evil army. Dandara plays like other exploration-focused action games such a Symphony of the Night or Axiom Verge. There is a large world with hidden items, enemies, and bosses. What makes the game stand out is how you navigate.
In order to move in Dandara, the player bounces from one platform to the next. They can aim with the analog stick and leap with a quick push of a button. It’s initially disorienting, and early encounters with enemies are a clumsy mess of leaps. After some time, it becomes second nature to ping pong through obstacles or zip behind an enemy. Some rooms have spinning platforms or sudden spike traps that challenge the player’s ability to perfectly time their jumps. Other rooms feature boss fights full of fireballs and hordes of minions. Mastering Dandara’s movement is essential to surviving, and it feels great to land a final blow on a tough boss.
Dandara’s exploration is soothing and rewarding. Some paths can only be navigated from a particular angle. Finding the right way to go can feel like a puzzle and often requires backtracking and map-consulting. Friendly NPCs unlock new types of platforms to jump to, while upgrades like missiles and long jumps help open up more of the world.
I’ve only scratched the surface of what Dandara offers. Each time I think I’ve reached a stopping point, I get a new item that helps me navigate old dead ends, or I stumble on new treasure to reach. Having to leap around turns even simple enemy encounters into an acrobatics challenge where every victory feels well earned. Dandara is a flashy addition to the Metrodvania genre.
You can play Dandara on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.