Badland – iOS Review


Let’s talk about the iOS game, Badland (I want to add an ‘s’ so bad, but I will resist). This game has been on my radar for a few weeks now, but that I have finally been able to get my hands on thanks to a sweet sale when it won the WWDC Apple Design Award. So lets just start there; this game is incredibly beautiful both to play and watch. First I want to talk visuals. Look at those pictures above, that is all gameplay, and I promise you if you took a picture of the screen anytime while playing you would have a shot very similar to any of those above. This game takes the minimalistic design of other games like limbo with simple silhouettes making up the landscape in the foreground, but then they pair that black architecture with a bright, lush background that really just makes you want to sit back and stare at your screen, which you have the option to do as there are moments scattered throughout where you simply just glide as you watch the landscape roll by for a few seconds. A very nice touch.

The wonderful aspect of the game though is that not only is this game great to look at but it plays equally as well. Badland can best be described as a cave flyer with a heavy emphasis on physics based gameplay. Think Jetpack Joyride meets Tiny Wings. The game runs with a consistently smooth framerate, at least on my iPad 3rd gen, which is fantastic because when you get forty of your little flying bat creatures on screen along with everything else I could see lesser games losing a few frames. The game is extremely well polished in that respect. I will say though that the game can be challenging to play though, and this coming from a gamer. It took me a few rounds to adjust to the way my little creature flies and even longer to adjust to the effect of the various power-ups scattered across the stages. I could see some people getting turned off, but I would encourage those people to not get frustrated and try again. The pause screen even has suggestions every time you pause.

ImageSeriously, what am I? 

The goal is always to simply survive to the end of stage, avoiding both the environmental traps and the always encroaching edge of the screen (fall off the leftmost edge of the screen and lose). While these environmental puzzles start off simple enough they quickly escalate until it becomes truly challenging to get to the end of the stage. And that is where my second concern comes in. The physics are set up in such a way that sometimes it feels like more of a trial and error game than the tight physics puzzler that it may pretend to be. This identity crisis can be supported by each stage’s challenges, which range from getting more of your little creatures to the end of the stage to making it through the stage without dying (and many, many others). I am usually a perfectionist when it comes to these types of challenges, but I don’t find myself coming back to accomplish these because I feel like the result would be more frustrating that challenging because of the often emergent physics system. This system is exciting most of the time because of the often erratic behavior of the environment and player’s creatures, but I am concerned that if I went back and attempted to accomplish these goals I would become quite frustrated. But that is not a deal breaker for me because for the price you get dozens of levels and a constant stream of new level packs (as of writing the second level update just came out) and each set brings with it new traps and exciting level layouts. These designers are not simply rehashing old tropes but iterating. Seriously, some of these later levels are ingenious, I love it.

So to wrap this review up I just want to say that Badland is a testament to the brilliant new development team at Frogmind and I can’t wait to go back and play more levels with my strange new bat creature crew. Yes the physics can be a little unpredictable and the challenges a bit too much, but that doesn’t dimiinish the brilliance of the visuals and the exciting and fun gameplay, which is why  I am giving BadlandMust Play.



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