One of my favorite games growing up was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which is coincidentally available on Android, right up there with Super Metroid. To say I have a soft spot for the metroidvania genre would be an understatement. Though Nintendo has let the Metroid franchise dwindle in the last decade and Konami can't be trusted with much, we've seen indies pick up the slack.
Hollow Knight is revered as one of the best metroidvanias ever, even ranking with the originals themselves; alas, it's not available on Android and I don't think it ever will be. But another excellent entry on that list is Dandara, and that's what we're talking about today.
You play as the titular character, who is tasked with saving the world of Salt. You're the only one who can do this, so you start off with a meager set of skills that you slowly expand through exploration and accomplishment. From this standpoint, Dandara is a pretty alright metroidvania. But where this game shines, and makes a name for itself, is in the movement.
Gravity is mostly meaningless to Dandara as you guide her through the levels and the movement scheme is a whole thing that you have to figure out and master. It takes some getting used to, but the game does a great job at teaching and challenging you. You'll be great at it in no time!
Normally, I'd only cursorily mention the touchscreen controls, especially as a passing thought for a game that supports external gamepads. But the developers did such a good job with these controls that I almost prefer to play without a controller when I sit down for some Dandara action. The right side is dedicated to your movement, the left for your attacks. They work so well together that this game feels a bit twin-stick at times when things get crazy.
Like any action platformer, Dandara can have a lot going on at once, especially with its unique movement. Though I didn't find Dandara to be too difficult, a lot of you may get stuck at points that require you to shift how you play.
I almost prefer to play without a controller when I sit down for some Dandara action.
Metroidvanias are defined by their sense of exploration and isolation, power-up collection, and a steady increase in strength. You will come across areas that you just can't access at a given point, but you'll be well-rewarded if you remember to double-back once you've collected the necessary skill. Even with a map, you still need to have one going in your head at all times while you explore.
Boss fights are another stand-out feature of Dandara. I won't spoil anything for you, but be ready for crazy awesome designs, unique mechanics, and challenges to push you. Overall, Dandara is more than worth the small cost to entry and it definitely earns its place in the upper portions of the list of best metroidvanias.
Speaking of best games, be sure to head over to our best Android games roundup, where you'll find an ever-growing list of the best titles you should be playing in a variety of different genres. And for past Game of the Week highlights, be sure to check out our back catalog.