Dap Review – Planet of the Daps

Developed and published by Melting Parrot

Available on PC

MSRP $13.99

Here we are, quite some time after I reviewed The Wild at Heart. In that review, I admitted that I’d never played Pikmin. Now, a couple of months later, I’ve been tasked with playing another Pikmin-like: Dap. There must exist some subset of game playing people that absolutely love having a tiny little army of things that follow them. I don’t mind the mechanic, but it surprises me that it’s popular enough for multiple games to try the formula. When I was offered Dap, I jumped at it. I admit that The Wild at Heart was pretty fun, and I wanted some more of that style of gameplay. Maybe one of these days I’ll buy a Pikmin game. Until then, it’s me and my daps.

The first thing that grabbed me about Dap was its visual aesthetic. It sets itself apart from other pixelated indies by having the world look like someone hucked an SNES cartridge against a wall and then put it back in the machine. The trees and leaves in the forested areas have a strange, almost corrupted appearance. This is on-brand, because Dap is a game, at its heart, about corruption. You play as Dap, who is a dap. Daps are like little forest spirit things. Your world is corrupted, and you must gather some special orbs to return to the mother of the forest. This is not explained through a cutscene or dialogue. Both of those things are very sparse in Dap.

You’ll be getting most of your story beats from the world around you, and a flaming deer head perched atop a pile of trash. In the first half of the game or so, a forest guardian named Deer will give you cryptic hints. You’ll then set out to find the orbs. One thing that differentiates Dap from other Pikmin-likes is the combat. You don’t order your daps to do the heavy lifting for you. They’re kind of like batteries. You can attack without a scraggly, rag-tag group of daps following you, but it won’t be as effective. Holding down the ranged attack button allows you to charge up your followers and unleash a volley of energy projectiles. Later in the game, you’ll gain the ability to harness their energy into a short range shotgun blast.

Combat is not at the forefront of Dap, though. Most of the time you’ll be exploring the world, and solving simple puzzles with your daps. Even though Dap tries its hardest to be spooky, it kept coming off as more relaxing to me. A big part of that is the soundtrack. It’s almost unnoticeable ambient beats. Once you let it get into your head, you won’t be able to not notice it. It is some of the chillest music I’ve heard in a game in a while. If someone could point me towards the Dap official soundtrack that would be great. The music makes the game. It just feels relaxing. It doesn’t matter that a corrupted dap is trying to rip my face off, I’m just gonna bob my head to the music while I smack it in the face.

Speaking of smacking things in the face, I have one small problem with Dap: Why am I allowed to smack my daps? So, on top of the ranged attack, you have a melee attack. You’ll use this attack to break mushrooms for the materials to make potions, and flame pods to restock on campfire supplies. When you swing, you sometimes just catch an unaware dap follower in the mouth. They make a pitiful noise and then I feel bad. I looked for an option to turn dap friendly fire off, to no avail.

I touched on crafting potions and campfires. In Dap, you can destroy mushrooms found throughout the forest. The material these mushrooms drop can be used to make potions at a campfire. Campfires are a necessity in the game. By holding down the assigned button, you can start a small campfire. This is a place for daps to rest, and for you to make potions. If you want more daps for your army, you’ll need that campfire. Building it near the wellsprings where dap spirits emerge will draw them into the welcoming warmth of the campfire, where they can be recruited with the rallying cry of, “dap”. Like Pokemon, dap can only say what they are. You can push the “talk” button on idle daps to hear them squeak out “dap dap dap” more times that I liked.

I’ve been classifying Dap as a Pikmin-like, but I may be wrong. With the campfires, potions, and at times challenging combat…I’m gonna call it a souls-like. I’m just kidding. It takes a bit of inspiration from Pikmin, Souls games, and others to make a cohesive whole bigger than the sum of its parts. It presents a world, drenched in and consumed by corruption, and tasks you with doing something about it. The aesthetic is a whole mood. If you go in looking for something different, Dap will not disappoint.