A prickly 2D Metroidvania with a curious twist, Dandara admirably finds something new to do with the genre, but it's tough work to get onboard.
The sense of mastery never quite comes, resulting in a game that flashes its potential in one scene only to undermine that thrill soon afterward. Even with its occasional stumbles, though, Dandara offers enough excitement and beauty to push you onward.
Dandara has a firm foundation, but suffers from inherent design flaws and a lack of direction. Despite its imperfections, I mostly enjoyed my time with it. It treads a lot of familiar ground with its gameplay mechanics, but those were the portions of the game I found myself having the most fun with.
Dandara is an artistic pixel art metroidvania with ideas of his own, like an original control scheme and a little Dark Souls touch. The problem is that, as a game designed to be played on smartphones without physic controls, the gameplay mechanics and power ups tend to be a little simple. But if you love the metroidvania genre, you'll enjoy it.
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Dandara is a beautiful game with a fresh movement mechanic, but it doesn't come together as well as I had hoped. Leaping across platforms is satisfying when it works, but aggravating when it doesn't, and even when the leaping does what you want it to do, you'll find annoying backtracking or bizarre navigation puzzles to overcome. There are some great moments in Dandara, but the headaches you have to deal with to get to them aren't always worth it.
The time I've spent with Long Hat House's latest title has forced me to reevaluate my expectations of the Metroidvania subgenre. On one hand, Dandara is a perfectly serviceable romp through a series of well-designed and attractive environments; on the other, it's a deliberate yet confusing sidestep of well-established gameplay conventions. It may be that Dandara's atypical traversal mechanic will click with some players, particularly those who pick up the game for the Nintendo Switch or mobile devices, but others may find that the game's middling charms aren't enough to make up for its potentially-frustrating controls.
Dandara has some interesting ideas and great visual design, but it rarely feels rewarding. It drags in the middle and the final third just frustrates, sucking the fun out of the experience.
Of what I've played so far Dandara offers a fresh new way to play a very familiar format, with deft design and strong puzzling wit. I just wish it had remembered to give me a reason to do so.
Dandara is more than the average Metroidvania and is a game worth your time. Although its unique stop-and-go gameplay may have you stumbling at first, movement turns into an art form as you get accustomed to it. And though not everything about Dandara stands out, the titular character is executed so masterfully it is hard not to be impressed with the folk-lore based heroine.