In Dap you collect mushrooms, make friends with little Daps and fight horror-inspired monsters while scavenging a forest and attempting to find your way out using your Dap friends.
I recently checked out the Dap demo following its inclusion as one of the 20 PAX Online Indie Showcase games and spoke to the developer of the game, Melting Parrot, a husband and wife team based in Melbourne, Australia about the game. They’ve been working on Dap for two years now and note The Legend of Zelda, Abe’s Oddysee, Studio Ghibli and Phillip K Dick as influences.
With a psychedelic and attention-grabbing pixel art style and eerie music, Dap grabs your attention from the moment you start playing. For me, the little Daps reminded me of The Binding of Issac simply because I thought they looked like monsters based on the trailer, but after playing the game, I was finding them rather cute.
Playing Dap, you move through an eerie forest while saving Daps and getting their help to progress through the level. Certain sections will be blocked until you have X number of Daps able to stand on platforms. What’s stopping you on your path are corrupted Daps that have been taken over by an evil source seeping out of the forest, bats and other creatures nightmarish creatures. You can fight back using a simple slash attack or magic that you can charge up to produce a more sustained and stronger attack.
You’ll also have to move through sections of the forest that are corrupted. You can stop at fires that protect yourself from the corruption or build your own as a makeshift checkpoint. You can then craft potions using mushrooms you forage from the forest at your campfires to replenish health.
Dap is mixing horror elements with fantasy in unique ways. For instance, the creatures and corruption are all rather horrific. The music is creepy. But you’ll also come across floating Dap seeds that turn into full-grown Daps if you build a fire under them. Hearing them pop into full-grown Daps was oddly comedic.
This isn’t a rogue-like either. Even if it may seem it’s headed in that direction at first. Each level is a dungeon with an exit and in-between levels you’ll ascend to a Spirit World where all the Daps you save appear to be making their new home and you can also plant seeds. Which I wasn’t sure about when I played the demo, but I asked the team of Iris and Paul Anstey about below.
After playing through the demo I’d describe it as a depiction of my worst times on drugs, so I’m intrigued if it’s based on a bad trip or a good one?
Iris: I’d say a mix of the two extremes are depicted, but rather inspired by a good one.
At a glance, I wouldn’t have seen the Studio Ghibli influences in Dap, can you explain what the animation studio influenced most?
Iris: The most obvious influence is the Kodamas from Princess Mononoke. But a lot of [the influences] are the forest environments and also quite a bit from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. There is a forest beset by these spores, harmful to humans, but looking so beautiful…
Paul: I’d say the way [Studio Ghibli] mix humour, horror and innocence together into a unique package.
Would you say the story is going to be easily understood by the end of the game? Or will the creatures and story themes be up for interpretation?
Paul: We’re aiming for a mix between those two extremes.
Iris: There will definitely be room for interpretation. We’re trying to present a main thread but some details and creatures might have a meaning that we won’t reveal and leave room for personal interpretation.
I can definitely see the Abe’s Oddysee influences with the Daps. Do they require different commands as the game progresses to solve puzzles?
Iris: At this stage, we prefer a more fluid and contextual approach of the mechanics. The Daps will do the right thing if you take them to the right place. They are almost like a hive of some sort, seeming like they are all one creature together.
What will growing plants in your spirit base do? Is that all part of the core experience? Or something optional?
Iris: The trees are growing from seeds that you can find in secret areas in the game. So it is optional but might have some effect in the end.
Following up on some press kit notes: it’s a 3-hour game? Is that focusing on the core path only? And will there be any collectables or additional material to seek out?
Paul: 3 hours is the core path. It’ll be a focused and streamlined experience. This also ties into the last question: you’ll be finding things like seeds to bring back to the spirit world. Also, the Daps themselves are a kind of collectable. You’re trying to save as many as you can.
Iris: Yes, to add, we are debating to add a different story ending, so you have a reason to play again. And also, to find all the seedlings in the game.
Thank you to Paul and Iris for taking the time to talk to me about Dap!