The impetus behind Dandara was to create a mobile metroidvania that didn’t use a virtual keyboard. Thus, a character that doesn’t run around, but instead aims jumps, ping-ponging between platforms. And as it turns out, that method of getting around doesn’t just work on mobile — it’s a fine fit for both PC and the Nintendo Switch.
I played Dandara two different ways; the first was on a TV, using the the puppy dog controller (the Joy-Con pair slid into a controller housing). There, you use the left stick to aim your jumps, hopping around a rotating world with a disregard for gravity. The portion of the game I played only included one basic attack, which needs to be charged, but there are other items planned in metroidvania style as certain areas will be inaccessible until you come back with the right gear.
It takes a few seconds to get used to jumping about (and not jumping too close to enemies, given the couple seconds it takes to charge your attack), but eventually I felt like a stray bullet, ricocheting around the environment. There are campsites to save your progress and spend gold on new things like health potions (you start with just three hearts and losing them is easy), and there are various items to discover in the environment, from extra hearts to maps. Dark Souls was name dropped by the developers in addition to the metroidvania inspiration.
We also unsheathed the Switch and played on the tablet screen without the Joy-Con. The left half of the screen is dedicated to aiming where the character jumps, while the right half is responsible for attacks. It was totally intuitive from go — very obvious that this started as a touch-controlled project — though one of the developers noted that, while the touch controls are easier when you’re starting out, he’s come to prefer playing with the controller. Still, given how few games work tablet-only on the Switch at launch it’s cool to see one coming down the pipe. Dandara‘s gorgeous art could make Switch owners happy when it launches on the new console, as well as PC and mobile, later this year.
[Disclosure: Hamza Aziz, whom I worked with here at Destructoid for many years, works for Dandara publisher Raw Fury. This does not affect my opinion of Dandara(neat) or Hamza (handsome, but bad).]