Dandara is a retro-style platformer inspired by real-life hero Dandara, a 17th century Afro-Brazilian warrior who fought to defend a safe haven for slaves during Brazil’s colonial period. This metrovania-style indie comes with a twist: gravity doesn’t matter! Unlike traditional platformers requiring continual movement from left to right, Dandara has you jumping from platform to platform. You’re put through a quick tutorial that teaches the controls, but after that, it’s up to you to navigate the winding world you’ll find yourself in. While many metroidvania-style games struggle making backtracking enjoyable, Dandara shines in this regard; backtracking is never tedious, areas are perfectly sized, and an in-depth map is always there to help.
As you progress, you’ll find new items and upgrades that let you access spots that were previously unreachable. (Sound familiar, metroidvania fans?) Dandara also features a campsite, which serves as a safe haven where you can regenerate your health and save your progress. This campsite also lets you upgrade Dandara’s attributes, like her number of hearts, and you can unlock these upgrades using salt power, which you gather from enemy drops, treasure chests, and other assorted places, like boxes that can be split open.
This game’s controls are what really set it apart from others in its genre. As we mentioned above, Dandara cannot perform jumps or be moved left or right; instead, she is controlled through a dashing system: she can dash from platforms of salt with a geometry-laden aiming system. (This aiming system functions similarly to the aiming you’d find in SteamWorld Heist, but it’s much more tight.) To protect herself, Dandara carries a blaster, which easily takes out foes. Most controls involve using the left joystick with a combination of buttons, and this scheme is simple to learn—yet it’s truly tough to master. But we promise that a bit of practice goes a long way with this title, and if you keep at it, you’ll get used to the unique control style in no time.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
Whether you’re exploring a deep metroidvania-style cavern or battling a beastly boss, Dandara’s soundtrack is perfectly atmospheric, and the 2D retro-style graphics are a treat. The game’s color scheme meshes with its level design, and the unique character design adds the right amount of flair to set this title apart in the vast sea of indie metroidvania titles available these days. Working your way through this game is a feast for the eyes and ears, especially if you’re a retro-style-indie junkie like we are.
Dandara takes on the metroidvania genre with a fresh control scheme and flawless results, and we love that this title not only immortalizes a powerful and important historical hero like Dandara, but brings to light the important work she performed in Brazil, fighting for an established slave haven. If you’re into metroidvania-style indies, you won’t want to miss out on this one—it’s the most unique metroidvania we’ve reviewed yet, and it’s quickly becoming one of our favorites!
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Raw Fury
Developer – Long Hat House
Price – $14.99
Genre – Action, Platformer, Adventure
Size – 1.2GB
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.