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Video Game / Dandara

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Explore a Directionless World.

Dandara is a Unity Metroidvania game with aspects of Soulslike RPG developed by Long Hat House 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 Mar 5, 2020.

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


This game 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.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Dandara is Freedom personified, and Nara is the living manifestation of Protest, with her songs as their Voice. Meanwhile, Tormenta, the True Final Boss, is the manifestation of the Salt's fear of change.
  • Author Avatar: Thommaz is one to Thommaz Kauffmann, the game's composer.
  • Creative Sterility: 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...
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Defeating Bélia will free he from its stone shell and make it friendly. In gratitude, Bélia will force the maws of the Hidden Realms open with its roots, allowing Dandara to enter them.
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  • 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.Bélia crossed it before the game's events, when Nara disappeared due to Eldar's actions. She hardened herself and went mad with grief.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Dandara is always barefoot, though she does wear several ankle bracelets on each foot.
  • Dream Land: One part of the game is called the "Dream Lands".
  • Eldritch Location: 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Tormenta, the True Final Boss. The living manifestation of the Salt's fear of change. A monstrous creature shaped like a human head, with glowing eyes and throat, but with large amounts of tentacles protuding from its neck. Its sheer wrongness can be seen in its appearance, as Tormenta's main body is a three-dimensional model, instead of the two-dimensional sprites of everything else in the game.
  • Fallen Hero: The Old Crone was once like Dandara, and fought Eldar when he was weaker, but she ended up trapped in the Ephemeral Station and fell into despair, deciding Freedom was nothing but an illusion. She's so far gone, that whenever she meets Dandara, she tries to convince her to give up and let Eldar win. When Eldar is killed and the Salt grows hesitant, she tries to convince Dandara one more time. If Dandara accepts, the Salt will revert to the moment before Eldar died.
  • Final Death Mode: After beating the game once, Johnny 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, summon smaller enemies.
  • The Generalissimo: Augustus, Eldar's Dragon. He lead the Eldarian Army against Dandara and Lazúli, and wanted to purge the Village of Artists by throwing it into Oblivion.
  • Gravity Screw: Dandara can attach herself to any flat surface colored white in the game, and she stands upright related to it after getting there.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Eldar, the Big Bad, wears a golden mask.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Lazúli is Dandara's guide throughout the game, but the Salt's fear over Nara's freedom and Eldar's death leads to her brutal death by Tormenta's hands.
  • Metroidvania: Unusually for a game of this genre Dandara cannot run or jump and can only move through the world by zipping her way through from one white surface to another.
  • Multiple Endings: Since the Trials of Fear update, the game has two endings:
    • Normal Ending: Defeat Eldar without freeing Nara: Eldar falls into Oblivion, and the Writer creates stories of Freedom.
    • Golden Ending: Free Nara, and defeat Eldar. The Salt hesitates in accepting his death, Tormenta merges the Hidden Realms with the Salt and kills Lazúli, but Dandara defeats it, 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 is only one thing that can kill Dandara in one hit, and it's by getting crushed by moving walls. Eldar in his first form can also crush her. (Fortunately, he uses it far less after the Trials of Fear update.
  • One-Winged Angel: Eldar's second form, The Relentless Choir, is a massive ovum-like ball covered by a shell of golden masks. Inside the ball are five naked Eldars with different expressions and strange protusions embracing a pink orb. As he gets more damaged, he launches more masks and sperm-like arrows.
  • Point of No Return: Averted, a rarity in Metroidvanias. Dandara can return to any place she has 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 respectively coexisted as these in the Salt.
  • Shout-Out: The design and position of the character Tarsila is a homage to Brazilian modernist painter Tarsila do Amaral, being based on her most famous painting Abaporu.
  • 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 bosses. 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.
  • Soulslike 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, power 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. Salt is even the same level-up currency used in the more well-known example of the genre Salt and Sanctuary.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Dandara can only move from one white surface to another, and there is a limit to how far she can travel with each jump.
  • Teleport Spam: The player must master this technique to defeat the game's more difficult enemies.
  • 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 wanted the Salt to be greater than it was and sought to take over the realm and protect it with his golden walls. Unfortunately, he utterly rejected the Creation half of the Salt, considering it a poison that had to be destroyed, and in doing so, he brought upon his own downfall and death.
  • World Tree: Bélia's roots extend throughout the entire Salt, including the Hidden Realms. She can feel and perceive everything near them.
  • Wham Line: The fakeout of the old ending that appears before the True Ending:
    As Eldar fell into Oblivion, the Salt felt the changes that were to come...
    But it feared them.