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So I've played through Dandara, and quite enjoyed it. It's a challenging, somewhat non-linear 2D action game that bears a passing resemblance to Metroid, but is actually more inspired by Dark Souls.
The game has a real distinctive look: the developers are from Brazil, and they took inspiration from their localities in creating the environments, but Dandara's world has a "twisted" feel to it, with sofas, PCs and streetlamps found all around the environments… quite literally, on the walls and ceilings as much as on the ground.
Dandara herself doesn't move the conventional way: you don't walk, run or jump. Instead, you launch yourself from surface to surface and cling to it, wherever there's a layer of white salt. It takes some getting used to, but eventually you get comfortable with it. But as soon as you get the hang of dodging enemy attacks by shifting from the ground to the ceiling, back to the ground again, the game ramps up the difficulty by limiting where you can go, or introducing enemies that have homing attacks.
The game is definitely a challenge. But I really enjoyed it.
The dev posted a whole thread on twitter about the visual design of the game, it's worth a look.
I'm gonna start a #Dandara Inspiration / Easter Eggs / Curiosities Thread! Starting with everybody's favorite character, Tarsila! She was inspired by Brazilian modernist painting "Abaporu", by Tarsila do Amaral. Animating her was nice! 😊✌️ pic.twitter.com/6zvkQMDoCj
I love the visuals for this game, but I just couldn't gel with the game feel. Being unable to move outside of warping to other surfaces just doesn't feel right for me. I'm sure there a people who will have a blast with this game, but I just couldn't connect with it. The basic act of moving around just feels needlessly cumbersome, even when I got to the point when I was comfortable enough to move quickly. I get why people would like something so different, but what I played didn't justify this change beyond its own sake.
It's no big deal; not every game is for everybody. And I'm happy to support an indie developer, especially from a part of the world where we don't see too many games. Dandara is not for me, but there's clearly a lot of talent in the team behind it. I have the best wishes for them in the future. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to the title and better see the appeal.