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Video Game / Dandara

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Explore a Directionless World.

Dandara is a Unity Metroidvania game with aspects of Souls-like RPG developed by Long Hat House, published by Raw Fury, and released in February 2018. The game stars a young explorer who cannot run or jump at all — instead, she has the ability to zip from one flat white surface to another. Disorientation is common as she moves between walls, ceilings, and any other flat surface within sight. Dandara herself is a supernatural explorer that is awoken one day to a world oppressed by supernatural evil and is tasked with the role of clearing it all. An Expansion Pack called "Trials of Fear" was released on March 5, 2020.

The game was designed with Ancient Brazilian Folklore in mind and takes place within a fictional depiction of Ancient Brazil. Dandara herself is loosely based on a real Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name.

Dandara provides examples of:

  • Alternate World Map: You can switch between viewing the Salt and viewing the Hidden Realms in the map. The two worlds have the same maw door positions.
  • Creative Sterility: Under Eldar's influence, the inhabitants of the Intention side of the Salt suffer from this. They consider anything that might be a distraction, like art and the past, to be useless and in need of destruction.
  • Critical Annoyance: That clinking sound when Dandara's health is low...
  • Dark World: The Hidden Realms are a horrifying place separated from the rest of the Salt by maws that will bite Dandara if she jumps in them. The inside is even freakier: "A realm of crimson caves, where everything's turned rancid", home to large amounts of red, faceless monsters and large eyes attached to tentacles that hurt Dandara of she touches them without the Shell Mirror. The natives of the normal side of the Salt do not speak of that place, and Lazúli has troubles communicating with Dandara while she's there.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Due to Eldar and his army's attempts to destroy the Creation side of the Salt, a lot of its inhabitants have crossed it. Some have even died of it.
  • Dream Land: One part of the game is called the "Dream Lands".
  • Final Death Mode: After beating the game once, Jonny B. creates 4 Challenge Machines that make the game harder. The third activates a Permadeath mode that traps Dandara in Oblivion if she dies once. Although it's a cozy place, there is no escape and the game is effectively over.
  • Flash Step: Dandara's movement is closer to a Flash Step than actual teleportation — although her movement is nearly instantaneous, she can get hit by enemies as she transitions from one point to another.
  • Flunky Boss: All of the game's bosses, except for Bélia, are aided by smaller enemies.
  • Genius Loci: The Salt, the game's setting, is a collection of various ideas and is stated to possess happiness and despair of its own.
  • Gravity Screw: Dandara can attach herself to any flat surface colored white in the game, and she stands upright relative to it upon getting there.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Primal Woods are a lush, early-game forest that connects to the remainder of the normal Salt.
  • Metroidvania: Dandara largely progresses by finding different items that help her traverse the Salt.
  • Metropolis Level: The Intention Capital is an urban, futuristic business district where precise, rational development occurs.
  • Multiple Endings: Since the Trials of Fear update, the game has two endings.
    • Normal Ending, Salt's Realization: Eldar falls into Oblivion, and after some time, the Writer creates stories of Freedom... but there isn't any true change to the Salt.
    • True Ending, Salt's New Beginning: Once Eldar is defeated after freeing Nara, the Salt hesitates in accepting his death, Tormenta merges the Hidden Realms with the Salt and kills Lazúli. Dandara defeats it nonetheless, ensuring Eldar will never return to life, and ending the threat to the Salt for good, bringing true change to it.
  • Nintendo Hard: If you think getting through the game's early parts with its unique control style is hard, wait till progressing.
  • One-Hit Kill: There are only two things that can kill Dandara in one hit: getting crushed by moving walls, and the blue sawblade meant to teach the use of the Bracers of the Patient. Eldar is capable of the formernote , but Augustus's fists are not.
  • Platform-Activated Ability:
    • Certain platforms in the Village of Artists only move if Dandara stands on the respective active button.
    • The Stone of Creation allows Dandara to leap much farther, but only from designated Creation devices.
    • The Stone of Intention allows Dandara to flip thin purple platforms, but only the one she is standing on.
  • Point of No Return: Subverted, a rarity in Metroidvanias. The Colossal Bridge is initially a one-way trip granted by Lazúli, but upon obtaining the Stone of Intention, Dandara can return to any place she has previously been. Even though defeating Eldar after freeing Nara warps the world in horrific ways, the Old Crone can help Dandara return things to normal.
  • Roboteching: Each of the triangles fired by Angular Soldiers can turn 90 degrees towards Dandara once.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Creation and Intention once coexisted as these in the Salt; they embody the enjoyment and refinement of life, respectively.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Remembrance Desert is an arid expanse where memories are stored.
  • Shout-Out: There's a character named Tarsila (after Tarsila do Amaral), found in the first area of the game, whose design and pose are styled after the Abaporu (one of Do Amaral's paintings).
  • Shown Their Work: Dandara is filled with references to Brazilian culture and history, from the graffiti and street culture of the village to the military uniforms of the early-game enemies. Supporting characters refer to famous Brazilian landmarks and works of art, while Dandara herself is named and designed after the famous Afro-Brazilian warrior from the colonial period. Some players have even compared the game's movement mechanism to the martial art of capoeira.
  • Single-Palette Town: The Intention Capital is dominated by purple buildings with glowing aqua accents.
  • Souls-like RPG: It uses several of the genre's mechanics: Dandara can only heal and restore her power from limited-use items that refill at checkpoints, which respawns all the enemies; she also has to stop at a checkpoint to spend Salt to level up and improve her stats (although the game has comparatively limited RPG Elements, meaning she can only increase her maximum health, maximum energy, and the effectiveness of her restoratives); if she dies she drops all her Salt, leaving a spectral afterimage she has to return to and reclaim before dying again or else it's lost for good. Salt is even the same level-up currency used in a more well-known example of the genre: Salt and Sanctuary.
  • Teleport Spam: The player must master this technique to defeat the game's more difficult enemies.
  • Travel to Projectile: The Displaced Presence, found at the top of the Ephemeral Station, is an orb that can bounce up to twice and teleports Dandara to any white surface it lands on.
  • Warp Whistle: Late in the game, Dandara obtains the Pearl of Dreams, which gives her the ability to travel from one campsite to another by dreaming. That also allows her to enter Eldar's Golden Fortress, as there's a camp just behind the walls.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Eldar wants the Salt to be greater than it was and seeks to take over the realm and protect it with his golden walls. Unfortunately, he adamantly rejects the Creation half of the Salt, considering it a poison that must be destroyed, and in doing so, he brings upon his own downfall and death.
  • Wham Line: The fakeout of the normal ending that appears before the True Final Boss:
    As Eldar fell into Oblivion, the Salt felt the changes that were to come...
    But it feared them.