Dandara, The Best Metroidvania You Haven’t Played, Is On Apple Arcade

Dandara, The Best Metroidvania You Haven’t Played, Is On Apple Arcade
Image: Dandara/Long Hat House

Dandara: The Trials of Fear, a Metroidvania-style game by Brazillian studio Long Hat House, is coming to Apple Arcade this week.

Content Warning: This story contains mentions of suicide.

The game follows a woman named Dandara on a quest to save the world of Salt from oppression. Its citizens oppressed and driven apart, it falls to Dandara to heal her nation and free her people.

The player’s primary verb in Dandara is teleporting. Teleporting is how you move your character about, a design choice that does a bit of work. It creates an extra layer of strategy in combat situations, and it opens the door to creative exploration and puzzle-solving. Dandara can only teleport to surfaces that are coloured white. While these white areas are plentiful at first they rapidly dwindle, leaving the player on the hunt for ideas and new ways forward. It’s a clever spin a standard of Metroidvania design, one that will appeal to fans of the genre looking for something new.

The character of Dandara is loosely based on a Brazilian folk hero of the same name. The real-life Dandara was an Afro-Brazilian warrior in Brazil’s colonial era. She fought against slavery and was part of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a community of escaped slaves. Dandara was said to be a master of capoeira. Her legend says she fought with the men and women of Palmares to ensure their continued freedom. When she was arrested in 1694, Dandara chose to end her own life rather than be forced back into a life of slavery. In the centuries since her death, stories about Dandara’s life and personality have passed into Brazilian legend, and she remains an inspirational local figure to this day.

The Trials of Fear edition of the game launched in 2020 and was a substantial quality-of-life update. Trials of Fear added three new levels and made substantial revisions to the way the game presented its story. The greater narrative clarity turns the game into a breathless race against time.

Basing its heroine on a local legend is just one of many cultural flourishes the Long Hat team work into the fabric of the game. From music, to story, and even the game’s colour palette, Brazil is the game’s beating heart. It’s wonderful and was originally designed with touchscreens in mind. For it to release on Apple Arcade gives it something of a homecoming.

That history lesson got a bit dark there at the end. Sorry about that.

Anyway, the game is great and you should play it. It’s out now on Apple Arcade.

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