There are scary games to make you jump. There are horror games to make you run. And then there are those games that are so damn creepy, the hair on your skin will raise up and shiver in the slightest of breezes. Dap is THAT kind of game. There is nothing truly horrifying about it but it has hit the perfect point of creepy to give my goosebumps their own goosebumps. Day 12 of our Halloween Game Reviews will transfix you into the creepy world of Dap.
What is Dap?
Dap is many things. Dap is the name of this cute and horrifyingly creepy game from the developer at Melting Parrot. It is a horror-action/adventure RPG, set in an alien psychedelic environment. There is a broad map to explore with a few small puzzles included along the way. Essentially it’s a search-and-rescue in a new land, with all the terrors to go with it.
Dap is also the name of the ghost-like creatures you control. It starts as one Dap, falling through the darkness. There are many others, calling out for help in the darkness. Your task is to find them and protect yourselves from danger. It’s a bit like Pikmin or the Rot in Kena: Bridge of Spirits (read our review of Kena here). The Dap are your family and you need to find them. The more Dap you have, the more powerful and protected you are.
Dap is also the only word they say. Think, “Hodor” or “I am Groot” but with a far greater CREEPY factor. Maybe more like the Children of the Corn in the cute but vacant look. Either way, it is a sound that soaks into your soul.
Guide Me Through the Gameplay
A lot of this game unfolds as you play, so I’m going to try really hard to avoid any spoilers. You start as one Dap, looking for more to rejoin your group. It looks like you have fallen into a dark and overgrown forest, with ferns and swamps and mushrooms. It’s eerily captivating and does well to hide the monsters.
Dap is currently available on Steam and works best with the keyboard controls, which are fairly straightforward to use. You can use a controller if preferred but I found it a little cumbersome when trying to do simultaneous actions. In addition to the basic movement, you can also attack/defend, craft healing potions, create fire, and talk with your fellow Dap. While the story and map reveal themselves gradually, the gameplay prompts are apparent and supportive.
One of the attack moves is also used for collecting mushrooms and red plants; the former is used in health potions while the latter gives you fuel to make fire. The fire is important for attracting other lost Dap to you. And this game is about collecting as many of your fellow Dap as possible.
Please Don’t Leave Me Alone
Okay, let’s just take a minute to discuss the Dap. Dap is all about saving your fellow Dap. But nobody warns you how invested you will become with your little family. The way they call out for you in the darkness. Their absolute faith in you, as they follow you through the forest. They look like pale and dainty little spirits. Awww, they are cute.
Your job–your one job–is to protect them. Sure there are plenty of monsters around but it is going to hurt when you realize YOUR attacks can sometimes hit them! Now, you and I know you didn’t mean to do that. But when you are attacking the monsters who threaten your family, take a little extra care with your buddies nearby. It took a few deaths for me to realize you can tell the Dap to stay put while you scout ahead. See, you can talk with the Dap. Even though it sounds like a bunch of “dap dap,” there are at least two separate expressions. One is “follow me” and the other is “wait.” For the sake of your fellow Dap, please learn these. It will save you both great anguish.
Light Up the Shadows
Dap is a psychedelic trip of exquisite beauty. It draws you in like a moth to the flame before smacking you straight in the feels. I don’t think there was ever a moment where I felt comfortable and yet I could not look away. At first, I thought the graphics were softly pixelated to give a certain roughness to them. When you look closer at the images, you will see a squarish pattern underlying the color and images. It gives the pixelated effect to all–except the ghostly Dap. It’s a very clever visual trick, allowing far greater use of light and shading to allow for soft movement in things like leaves and flames.
Light plays a big part in this game. You have the opportunity to “light up” your surrounding areas, revealing hidden monsters amongst the plants. There are also plants with giant mouths trying to eat you, bats (I think they’re bats) waiting to swarm, and the heartbreaking realization you cannot save everyone.
Graphics alone don’t create the creepy atmosphere in this game. Dap has recently won two awards at BitSummit, including Excellence in Sound Design.
Dap Has the Numbers
This is a small indie game with the potential to go wild. Dap has captured the balance between awe-inspiring and aw-Hell-No! It’s an immersive experience with just enough complexity to draw you in and hold you in its clasp. Overall, it will take you about 3hrs to play and is suitable for kids from ‘tweens up (some younger kids might be creeped out too much). Perfect to set the mood during the Halloween season.
Dap is available on Steam. Evil Genius Mum received a demo copy for the purpose of this review; no other compensation was received. For more information about the game and developers, see their official website here.
Score: 4 out of 5 Dap daps.