Of the hundreds of demos available on PAX Online 2020, one of the strangest must be the creepy adventure game simply called Dap. In it, you control a humanoid creature exploring a dark and sinister forest. If you’re a Ghibli fan, these little fellas might remind you of the Japanese forest spirits found in Princess Mononoke. Like those spirits, these creatures fall somewhere in between ghoulish and adorable and make their home in a beautiful yet dangerous forest.
Dap is the name of the little creature you play as, but also the name for the species in general. The demo, which features the first 20 or so minutes of the game, shows off the exploration-adventure style of gameplay. Dap ventures out into the dark forest alone, but will come across other Daps as they go. Calling out to them with a “Dap? Dap Dap!” they’ll answer back, and then they will follow you until you reach the end of the level, or until they’re killed.
Daps clearly get their power from numbers. Your ranged attack, which will be your main form of defence from the enemies that lurk in the dark, gets more powerful the more Daps you have with you. But it can put you in more danger, too – there is an ominous red infection overtaking the forest, and it gets to your Dap friends, they’ll turn from friend to foe.
It’s not just exploration, though. There’s a story happening here as well, as evidenced by the suspiciously friendly flaming cow skull that you meet along the way. We don’t learn its name or its motive in the demo, but we do see enough to get the impression that there is more going on behind the scenes that Dap has yet to learn.
I’m dying to know more about the world of Dap, about the forest and its inhabitants, and about the red infection that’s taking over the place. In the demo’s short runtime, it introduces the basics of the exploration gameplay with some light crafting and survival elements.
At a first impression, Dap looks uncomplicated but well-crafted. The pixel graphics are beautiful in subtle ways: it’s got the enthral yet unsettling atmosphere down pat, and the dev team has made creative use of simplistic designs. if you look closely at the tree foliage, they’re made out of dense clusters of pipe patterns. And I’m far too curious about what that flaming cow skull’s deal is to let this indie be forgotten by the wayside.