Sometimes the cutest things can be the most unsettling when placed in disturbing scenarios. It’s not common where you get to experience the story of something adorable trying to survive in a terrifying world. The thing is that is exactly what the devs at Melting Parrot have crafted in their upcoming title Dap. It follows a nameless forest spirit who is called upon to save their forest home from an unspeakable evil with whatever power they can muster. It’s a hauntingly hectic experience that can make you panic at the drop of a hat. However, sometimes it’s worth it to brave through in hopes of reaching the light.
What’s All This Dapping?
Unlike the internet, there’s no dabbing to be found in Dap. It presents its story with a heavy focus on visuals and atmosphere. Any text that does appear is from dialogue between characters or helpful game text. That being said, there’s a fair amount of turmoil going on and it’s possible to get a handle on things. In a nameless forest, a number of mysterious creatures live together under the watchful gaze of a being called Mother. The most numerous are the Dap that resembles the Kodama from Princess Mononoke. One day, dark energy spreads throughout the forest corrupting the creatures and twisting the wildlife. As a lone Dap, you must unite the Dap to purify the forest and save all from Corruption. It’s a harrowing journey that keeps you on edge.
A Healthy Green
When it comes to caring for and preserving nature, you want to keep things nice and green. In Dap, there are plenty of things it does to accomplish this with the first being atmosphere. Since it takes place in a forest, the game does what it can to emphasize the sounds and noises. You’ll spend a lot of time wandering around the dimly lit areas looking for any signs of activity for fear of being left alone in the dark. However, anything that moves can be a possible threat and will be all too eager to attack you. At points, you’ll start to value loneliness.
Then there’s the balance between the creature and horror design. The Dap look and sounds cute and innocent which contrasts with everything even before monsters appear. It really gives the feeling that Dap is harmless and somewhat helpless. Even when you take control of the hero with all their special abilities, you never feel totally prepared. It prompts you to move slowly and cautiously while exploring for boons at your own risk.
As horror games should be, this one keeps you in suspense. There are less than a handful of areas where you’ll feel safe and you’re always at the mercy of monsters and the forest itself.
If you don’t care for plants properly then they’ll begin to wilt until they’re all dried out. Despite Dap’s best efforts, it does have some problem areas. The first being its lack of direction. While there are characters who’ll fill you in and give you a goal, you’ll be left to your own devices to figure out how to accomplish it. While this adds to the feeling of helplessness, it’s also just confusing. You’ll spend a lot of time wandering around in the darkness with very similar-looking pathways and no indicator as to which direction leads forward or to potential goodies.
Then there’s the combat system. Being a horror game, it can be expected that combat should be frantic and tricky to encourage avoiding enemies rather than confronting them. Unfortunately, that isn’t always an option. Every enemy behaves as if you’re the first thing they’ve ever seen and charges towards you to see what you smell like. It’s impossible to run away from most of them and your melee attacks are quite helpless against the ones that just want to bite your face off.
Finally, controlling the Dap is lackluster. Their main purpose is to help you press switches and charge up power for buttons. You do get a shotgun-like attack that makes this more useful, but the Dap have no survival instinct. They don’t attack or evade monsters or help you out if you’re in danger which makes them feel like props rather than units. It’d be interesting if more had been done with the group-control mechanic.
Dap It Up
Dap is a 2D horror adventure game where you unite a bunch of helpless creatures against an ensuing evil. It captures the elements of panic and suspense with audio and visuals to support it. It could use some touching up in terms of mechanic versatility and guidance though. Get past that and you might want to dab with the Dap assuming the forest hasn’t eaten them already.
TechRaptor reviewed Dap on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
- An immersive emphasis on sound and music
- An effective balance between cute characters and scary environments
- It maintains tension and keeps you in suspense
- Lack of guidance and direction
- Hectic combat that's unavoidable and tricky
- Little variety in controlling and guiding a crowd