How Good Is Dap!? Dap Dap!

Will you protect the forest from corruption, restoring Mother back to her glory or lead your followers to a swift death? Dap Dap.

That title will only make sense once you play the game, but I will not apologise for the repeated dap use throughout this Dap review, covered on the PC.

Actually, there’s no insider information on dapping as that’s what these kodoma-like characters bark at each other throughout this fascinating little action puzzler. Fascinating is a strange word to use to describe it, so I’ll do my best. Ish.

The visual style of this little indie title by Melting Parrot is beautiful. At a glance, and I’m only talking a couple of minutes tops, I was a little on the fence if I liked it – or even got it. But the art style is exactly that: art, and the more you analyse it, the more you find meaning.

Dap Review

Yeah, I get that this sounds a little pretentious, but what I’m trying to say is I’d often stop and look at the visuals close up as they have this digital fabric aesthetic. It seems like simple pixel art, but (and perhaps bigging up the devs too much?), I found it to be quite intoxicating – in a good way, of course.

Dap Review - Mother?
Mother? Source: Screen capture

That comes from the atmosphere too, as your little dap will wander around the forest looking for other daps to help trigger switches, fight back adversity with magic, and build a community around a fire to tell stories and fart while eating beans. Oh, that’s the cowboy stereotype, isn’t it?

These little creatures are super cute, but the world they occupy is a little ominous. It’s dark, and the palette gives off this mysterious but dangerous world, and that’s soon validated by the nasties that hunt you down and paint the area red with your inner bits.

Dap Dap

Dap looks and behaves like a handful of titles: Fez for visuals – albeit the opposite when it comes to the colour wheel, plus Pikmin and Oddworld for the way you summon your followers to join your plight, creating this daisy chain of little dappers.

As mentioned, the world is dangerous, but at first, you’ll be scavenging for mushrooms and other ingredients to craft potions and fires, taking them down with a melee attack. With enough time to learn this little routine, you’re then introduced to enemies, whom you can attack with ranged magic – using the right stick for aiming.

Dap review - Deer
Hello, deer. Source: Screen capture

Shortly after this introduction, you’ll begin to find another use for your followers other than triggering switches. For the most part, you’ll need to recruit others by initiating a dap dap conversation and asking them to follow. They’ll automatically jump on the switches too, so no faffing about with dodgy AI. But their ultimate power is the charge attacks.

What The Dap?

The more followers you have, the more paths you can unlock, but you also have the opportunity to unleash a more powerful attack on enemies. These characters are corrupted daps. They’re red and scream when they charge at you. The tone shifts further, and it gets incredibly dark – you can’t help but feel something when you see your followers’ claret spilling everywhere.

Fear not: a quick charge, and you can blast these nasties away. When it’s not so dangerous, you can create a bonfire that serves as a checkpoint (sometimes) and recruits a few more followers – pending you ‘sign them up’. Most of the time, they’ll be expendable as some switches will take their lives, so back to one of these pods that fire off the daps, then rinse and repeat. It’s a shame as I was naming each one.

But ignoring the gameplay for a moment, the overall menace of the game is fantastic. Each time you progress, you locate a deer-like skull – the protector of the forest, it ignites in a ball of flame each time you approach. They’re usually there as a cryptic advisor, encouraging you to find some mystic orbs to deal with the forest and its corruption, notably on Mother. It’s all so delightfully unsettling.

Easy As Dap

The controls and general feel of the game is very natural. Dap is effectively a twin-stick shooter with disciples. Moving your character about is swift and responsive, plus you have a little dash to get you out of trouble, but there’s a gauge so you can’t spam it continuously. Sometimes you need that.

Naturally, through progression, it gets a little harder as enemies are much faster and stronger, and the fires aren’t just a place for recruiting and making potions, but a way of preventing your community – and you – from surrendering to the corruption and going mad. 

Dap Review - Corruption
Corruption on a mass scale. Source: Screen capture

When you do die, you’ll return to a checkpoint then start again. Nothing malicious or unfair. As mentioned earlier, you can collect ingredients to make potions that are assigned a hotkey for convenience. You’ll need 25 mushrooms for a brew, which is a little stingy. There’s no conventional HUD or similar, but you soon get used to the symbolism in the game, and it’s all an enjoyable experience.

If I could put this in better context, I’d rather play Dap again than write this. Also, if you’ve been following the site these past couple of weeks, I’ve had many games on my plate – switching between them as much as possible. Dap was one of those I kept coming back to, and considering this past fortnight has given up some demanding games, that’s a testament to its appeal.

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