The indie games scene seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment. Whether it’s one of the indie developers slagging off Tomb Raider trying to hype up a fellow indie game, or another indie developer offending gamers on a forum by calling them nerds, or simply a decent game coming out, we do seem to be hearing quite a bit from them. It is rather a competitive market in the indie game sector right now which means the standard is exceptionally high. This is great for gamers and bloody stressful for the developers. It is into this stress-filled, three-ringed circus that our next game developers boldly step into, without the theatrics and parlour tricks mentioned above – just a solid game. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Badland.
Badland is the brainchild of Frogmind, a Finnish indie developer consisting of Johannes Vuorinen and Juhana Myllys, both of whom worked on Trials Evolution for the Xbox 360. The game is set in a mythical forest full of wonderful creatures and plant life but something is not right. The world is beginning to slowly fill with man-made contraptions such as pipes, rotors and blades. The player controls one of the forests creatures – a flying furry haggis like chappy – on his journey of discovery. This is as much story as there is to the game. The cool thing about it is that it’s not even explained to you at all – you are just dumped into this magical world and off you go.
Badland is a right to left side scrolling puzzle game. It is also a game of perpetual motion, meaning that the world is constantly scrolling by and if you fail to keep up with it, you die and have to restart from your last checkpoint. Preventing you from completing this task are a host of obstacles that block your path so that you have to go over, under, between or simply avoid them. The obstacles start out as branches, weeds and falling rocks but become more mechanical such as blades, rotors, mines, and sticky pipes. The game consists of 40 levels, split into 4 chapters and takes place over the course of a day. Each of the chapters representing a time of day: Dawn, Noon, Dusk and Night. The world is navigated primarily by flying. In some cases you cannot fly and are left to hop along. Helping you navigate your way through each level are various power ups. There are power ups to make you smaller, bigger, speed you up, slow you down and make you spin. There are even power ups that slow down time and speed it back up again. Each of these power ups are revealed at a steady pace throughout the game to aid in overcoming the puzzles. The difficulty curve in Badland is a gentle one. New elements or obstacles are introduced at a gradual pace to let you get used to navigating around them, with slight tweaks being added each time you encounter the obstacle. This makes for a truly immersive gameplay experience that gives you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment once you complete the later levels.
In addition to the single player mode, Badland also comes with sixteen multiplayer levels. The core idea of multiplayer is to survive. Up to four players compete on the on iPad or iPhone, each using a corner of the device the control their character. After a brief countdown, the world starts to scroll and the battle is on to see who can survive the longest. Not only do you have to contend with the environment but with each of the other players, as not only is knocking each other into the way of traps allowed, its encouraged. As with the single player campaign, Frogmind have taken a very simple premise and turned it into a well-crafted, fun experience. Expect arguments to be had when you break this one out!
Graphically, Badland is one of the best looking games I have seen this year. The backgrounds of the worlds are beautiful with the brightly coloured trees and landscapes. The creatures that are dotted in amongst them are drawn the same way as the main character – a solid black shape with white eyes. It may sound sinister but it isn’t; they kind of have a Disney-esque feel to them. The pallet of colours used and the creatures themselves change with each of the chapters, getting darker as the day goes on. The levels in the Dawn section are yellow and bright and reminiscent of the world of Gravity Rush, noon has a green pallet mixed with the yellow to give a cool vibe whilst red is the order of the day for the afternoon levels. The final 10 levels of the game are dark and sinister as you find out the true nature of what is going on in this once magical world. Just important as the colour of the worlds are the sounds.
The sounds start off as babbling brooks and birds chirping but evolve into the more sinister mechanical sounds as the game progresses. It is all of these elements put together that make Badland not just a game, but an unforgettable experience.
Badland is one of those “one in a million” games. It has a simple premise but still manages to charm you into loving every aspect of it and at the price of £2.49, its worth every penny.
9 Furry flying haggii out of 10Badland Review (iOS),