Reviews - Updated on April 12, 2022

A warrior named Dandara is known to many residents of Brazil, but few have heard of her outside of this country. There are only bits of information about her on the Internet, and no one even knows if she was born in Brazil or in one of the regions of Africa. But her contribution to the fight against the slave regime was not forgotten – in the 17th century, Dandara did everything possible to protect the inhabitants of the Republic of Palmaris, where fugitive black slaves hid. She owned capoeira, and knew how to hunt, and grew crops, thanks to which people around her lived in safety for many years.Dandara game review

If the boxes are blocking the path, you will not be able to jump to the white surface.

salt in the wound

The creators of the Dandara platformer, as you might guess, were inspired by the activities of this particular woman. They themselves come from Brazil, so they are probably well versed in this topic. However, they did not retell the story in detail, but came up with a certain world of Salt, whose inhabitants were once free, but now are oppressed and isolated. The main character will have to save them, but do not expect any excursions into history – the plot is as schematic as possible, and the dialogues have practically no value. But if you know in advance what I described above, there will be more logic in what is happening.

What is generally not explained in the game is the inability of the character to move normally. We are used to platform heroes running from side to side, but in Dandara everything is different – once in the next room, the girl freezes in the air and can only land on white-painted platforms or patches of land. She takes the next step according to the same principle, and the player chooses the direction by moving the stick on the gamepad (it’s better not to come here with a keyboard and mouse). The developers do not make any exceptions – if the white spots are not visible, the heroine will not even lift a finger.

You get used to this mechanic very soon, and after a few minutes you stop feeling any inconvenience. You don’t need to aim accurately – if the stick is pointed in the right direction, the line with the arrow in most cases will point to the painted area. Due to this, you can move from one end of the corridor to the other in a matter of seconds without pausing – the original idea is implemented great. At the same time, episodes that would be easy in ordinary platformers become difficult in Dandara. It seems that the neighboring island with a chest is very close, but without white areas it is not possible to get to it – you have to look for a workaround.

The world of Salt is a set of rooms connected with each other by corridors. And it is not always clear where the floor is and where the ceiling is. Opponents of several types can walk on any surface, and the heroine also feels good when she stands upside down. Regardless of its location, the gameplay always remains the same: hit a new zone, look around, jump through the painted areas, get to the next door. But at first it’s impossible to get into some zones – structurally, the game is another “metroidvania”, where from time to time you either acquire new skills or activate levers to open the way to the next locations.

Dandara game review

Camps are the only thing displayed on the world map.

Unsweetened life

The inhabitants of the world periodically endow Dandara with bonus abilities: either she learns to move certain platforms while standing on the buttons, or she starts launching rockets that destroy stone blocks. Some improvements are also hidden in the chests – for example, the heroine’s pistol will fire more shells per shot. But in battles with ordinary opponents and “bosses” little will change until the final – since the bullets do not fly very far, you need to lure enemies to yourself and only then inflict damage on them. And in some cases, if there are many opponents and they also have firearms, the player has to jump from corner to corner, dodging dangers and at the same time eliminating opponents at the first opportunity.

Because of such moments, the passage will not seem like an easy walk – the more new rooms you explore, the more difficult the game becomes. And for death they are severely punished, taking away all the salt – the local currency. The soul of Dandara remains after death in the same place, so you can always return there and pick up what you honestly earned.

Funds are spent to increase the stock of health, improve the efficiency of first-aid kits and other parameters. Each wrong move takes away a unit of health, and if the player paid little attention to “pumping”, he may have a lot of problems. Defeated enemies do not leave any “healers” behind them, first-aid kits are rare and lie only in chests, and reaching the camp is often not so easy.

There are no complaints about the complexity of the gameplay – everything is in moderation here, and if there are a dozen shooting opponents in a small room, the search for opportunities to jump past the projectiles becomes a kind of puzzle.

A significant drawback of Dandara is associated with the world map, which can rightfully be considered the most useless of all games in this genre. It does not always cope even with the basic task of letting the user understand where he is and in which direction he is heading. When visiting the next zone, the whole room just starts flashing on the map, and the character icon is not drawn. But this is only half the trouble – sometimes the rooms are rotated 90 degrees, and the map remains in the same position. And you have to figure out in your head where you stand and where to go next.

Dandara game review

Some plot characters are much larger than the main character.

In addition, nothing useful is drawn on the map at all – it’s just rooms and corridors. No open and missed chests, no levers – not a single object seen is recorded. Fortunately, you pick up a large part of the things at the same moment when you first see them, but a couple of chests that I missed for one reason or another remained untouched, and I have no desire to find them on my own. Such a shortcoming is easily explained by a small budget, but at the same time, nothing prevented the players from giving the opportunity to make marks on the map themselves. Another disadvantage is that a location visited once is marked as fully explored, even if part of it has been blocked. Because of this, sometimes you get confused, not knowing where to go.

***

In general, Dandara wins due to the unique gameplay mechanics that seem far-fetched only at first glance. The levels are designed in such a way that you don’t miss standard jumps, and the gamepad control turned out to be convenient. The game looks good, the musical accompaniment turned out to be excellent – you hear the sounds of either the piano, or the djembe, or other unusual instruments. The only thing that upsets me is the stupid and empty map, which does not react in any way to the position of the camera. Against the backdrop of recent Iconoclasts and Celeste, the project, of course, does not look so great, but Dandara still remains a good game, the advantages of which outweigh the disadvantages.

Pros: unique game mechanics; great soundtrack that fits into what is happening; convenient and clear control; a sense of progress through the acquisition of new skills.

Cons: sketchy plot; an inconvenient map that confuses the player and does not provide useful information about secrets and chests.

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