Dandara – First Impressions (Nintendo Switch)

Dandara was one of the titles we looked forward to checking out the most as the PAX weekend approached, and for good reason. The movement for the game looked unique and challenging—but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning.

Dandara is the title character who is exploring various areas and landscapes as she tries to figure out what happened to all the inhabitants who used to be there. That’s basically the extent of the story, but you’re not playing this game for the story and the developers know that. They’re not shy about pointing out that they’re not writers and they wanted the bulk of their energy to go toward puzzles and gameplay—which certainly begs the question why they didn’t hire an outside writer to at least add some depth with a hint of compelling story, but hey, their choice.

After all, it’s the movement in this game that’s going to either sell it or not. There is no regular walking in this game—no back and forth, no jumping, no crouching or rolling—because instead, Dandara launches off surfaces in the environment to land on other designated surfaces. These safe zones are indicated by a lighter color, and you the player must figure out which angle to use to get Dandara where she needs to go. There is an on-screen directional line to help with this, which makes the movement more intuitive than you might think at first—especially when there’s a companion line that shows up at times to let you know there’s a different, better (less deadly?) option nearby.

This angle assist is helpful when there are multiple enemies on-screen and you’re working hard to try to avoid them or navigate around obstacles. In the demo, Dandara begins with one attack mode, which is to charge and blast an enemy at the same time, but the extra challenge is that it has to be aimed with your jumps between platforms.

Getting a handle on this takes some practice, and players should expect to fail spectacularly before figuring out how to tackle levels with success—and in true Metroidvania style, you’ll have to return to earlier parts of levels once you gain new skills and abilities to open doors that were otherwise closed.

For that reason, Dandara seems like the perfect addition to the existing game library of Metroidvania games, because rather than rehash the old formula, it uses the tried-and-true aspects but combines them with this new movement style to develop something entirely different, but entirely familiar at the same time. It releases later this year on Nintendo Switch.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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