Gravity-defying platformer Dandara launches today

Dandara

Here’s one that nearly flew under my radar: Teensy tiny Brazilian studio Long Hat House have been working on Dandara for a few years now. Envisioned as a platformer that can be played equally well on touch-screens and gamepad (although probably not so hot on keyboard), a look at the launch trailer within should be enough to convince most that they’ve at least created something that looks very striking in motion.

You don’t have long to wait to try it yourself, if the video tickles your fancy. The PC version rolled out today, alongside a release on the Nintendo Switch.

The core gimmick of Dandara is simple enough to describe, although likely a lot more demanding to control. You move solely by jumping. Or, rather, launching yourself like a projectile from one marked surface to another, with your personal gravity aligning to whatever floor, ceiling or wall you launched yourself onto. In some cases, the world will rotate around you, while in others, the platforms you crash into will spin and rotate freely.

It’s not just hopping from ledge to ledge – there’s a fair chunk of combat as well, and the developers claim a metroid-like structure to it all. It all looks pleasantly ninja-ish, and reminds me of Capcom’s classic Strider series in the nicest possible way, blending high mobility platforming and creative abuse of gravity . In fact, the strange world shown in the trailer and the occasionally off-kilter colour schemes used remind me of the lesser known Osman, spiritual successor to Capcom’s platformer.

Obscure references aside, looking at both Steam and console version reviews for the game, it seems like this may just play as good as it looks. I hope to get my hands on it before long and at least share my initial opinions on it, but in the meantime, it’s out now and available on Steam for £13.49, with a 10% discount available near launch.

20 Comments

  1. Tacroy says:

    I bought it to support the Brazilian game dev scene, and it’s really good. The control scheme is kind of like if VVVVV and Super Meat Boy had a baby – it’s a little weird but once you’re used to it you can almost fly.

    Aside from that, the basic structure is fairly Metroidvania. Go through a level, find items in chests, find save / respawn points, kill enemies, navigate puzzle rooms, eventually find a boss and beat them down, maybe get a new ability out of it. The control scheme makes all of the standard accoutrements feel fresh, particularly because backtracking isn’t as much of a pain in the ass when you can zip through a screen in five seconds flat if you know what you’re doing.

    I fully expect this game to get an RPS Recommends sticker eventually, unless it all goes horribly wrong later on.

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      buenaventura says:

      Do you need a controller with sticks to play? I like to use my iBuffalo SNES controller, but perhaps you need the sticks to aim jumps?

      • Tacroy says:

        I don’t think binary arrow keys will work, since a lot of the jumps require weird angles that aren’t in increments of either 90° or 45° (which is all a classic SNES controller or a keyboard can register).

        Pure mouse control works fine though.

  2. fredtoy says:

    “Envisioned as a platformer that can be played equally well on touch-screens and gamepad (although probably not so hot on keyboard)…”

    I’m playing it on Nintendo Switch, but I can see it working very well with a mouse for movement/attack and keybord for map, cure, etc.

    • Tacroy says:

      I think pretty much every PC gamer has a controller at this point

      • Landiss says:

        No.

      • Sian says:

        Maybe, but not everyone is comfortable using one.

        Personally, I avoid controllers where I can simply because I grew up with m/k controls and that’s just easier for me to use even in many cases where people say the controller works better.

        That, and I don’t like the XBox controller layout that most controllers use nowadays – I much prefer the Playstation layout, and even though windows isn’t quite as stubborn about it nowadays, I still need third party software to get it to run with most games, and even that’s not guaranteed to work, so I usually don’t bother.

        There’s a minimal amount of m/k support I expect of any game that’s released on PC (though I’m more lenient with ports of older console titles). Freely rebindable keys are the bare minimum, and I return or don’t buy games that don’t offer at least that.

        • Tobberoth says:

          I much prefer the Playstation layout, and even though windows isn’t quite as stubborn about it nowadays, I still need third party software to get it to run with most games, and even that’s not guaranteed to work, so I usually don’t bother.

          Honestly, since the steam controller, this isn’t really an issue. Just add a game to steam (even if it isn’t a steam game) and run it in steam big screen mode and a PS4 controller will work out of the box in the vast majority of games, and it’s completely customizeable down to pretty much every single detail.

          • April March says:

            Huh, I didn’t know Steam Big Picture changed the way controllers worked in this way. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Telkir says:

    Ooh, yus, very nice! The gameplay looks slick and I bet speedruns will be crazy in a month or two. The music seems fantastic too if the trailer is anything to go by.

    I just hope there isn’t an equivalent of VVVVVV’s “Veni, Vidi, Vici” otherwise I can already feel the rage levels rising… who am I kidding, of course there’s going to be something like it somewhere :P

    • Malcolm says:

      Quite by accident I reached Veni, Vedi, Vici within a few minutes of starting VVVVVV. Out of sheer bloody-mindedness I couldn’t just ignore it and eventually rage-quit (and rage-uninstalled!) about an hour later.

      Only last week I reinstalled and managed to ignore that bit so I could finally enjoy the rest of the game. Even so the end game was a bit of a sod.

      • Darloth says:

        Yes, I was really enjoying VVVVV until I couldn’t make myself not play Veni, Vidi, Vici.

        I failed, and was stuck there forever more.

    • GeoX says:

      I did Vini, Vidi, Vici twice, once on the PC version and once on the 3DS port. It’s really not that bad. I know that sounds dickish, but it just requires patience. I am by no stretch of the imagination an ace at action games, but once I decided I was going to do it, it really just required a few hours to develop the muscle memory.

      • oyog says:

        I’m with you on Vini Vidi Vici. My personal hell was Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

    • Ejia says:

      I’ve never gotten Veni Vidi Vici. I’ve made my peace with the fact that I never will.

  4. Malcolm says:

    Dandara – Pilot of the Future?

  5. PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

    Isn’t Dandara a brand of tea?
    I’m looking forward to Fair Trade Red Leaf Blaster

  6. notenome says:

    Wait, Dandara?

    (ok so incoming history post)

    Dandara is one of the most interesting figures in Brazilian colonial history. She was the matriarch of Palmares, also known as Angolan Kingdom of Palmares, the largest ‘quilombo’ in the country’s history. A quilombo was a community composed of escaped slaves, often intermixed with local indigenous populations. In the 1600s Palmares numbered some 20,000 people with the largest community somewhere between 4-6k, which was about the same size as the largest Portuguese settlement at the time (Rio de Janeiro).

    Dandara was the political head of Palmares, and one of her husbands, Zumbi, was largely in charge of the military, becoming one of the most celebrated resistance figures in the country’s history (a much larger scale Django unchained, if you will). Dandara did fight as well, and was described as the leader of the “female phalanx”, though what that actually means precisely is up in the air. The relationship between the two has effectively served as a metaphor for the broader “afro-brazilian” movement as a whole, with Dandara supposedly favoring detente while Zumbi favored direct confrontation.

    Eventually the Portuguese managed to defeat Palmares and Dandara committed suicide to avoid capture. If any of this has any relevance beyound “female protagonist” though, who knows. But I was definitely not expecting a Dandara videogame.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      I think the bosses in the game are the political dictators of the time, so it’s definitely not just using her as a liberal token for female empowerment. Seems like a broad criticism of economic and social inequality, set in a fictional mirrored world, but I don’t know too much.