Badland could be described as a physics based sidescroller, but I find that it doesn’t really fit neatly into any one genre. At times is feels like an endless runner, but at others it’s almost a platformer. What it comes down to is that you move your little animal by flapping its equally tiny wings and drift up into the air. That’s the extent of the controls in Badland. The longer you press, the higher the fluffball bird will fly and the farther to the right it will go. Simple!
The first few levels are easy. You’ll get used to the weight of the flier and the feel of Badland’s physics. It’s all relatively easy to control until Badland throws you some curveballs. You’re not just trying to save one tiny flying creature, there is a whole swarm of them. Throughout the levels there will be pods of more fliers, called clones. They join your flock when picked up, but the flock doesn’t move as one monolithic unit. Sure, they all flap when you press on your controller, but each unit has its own momentum and trajectory. You can only control them so much, but that’s part of the challenge.
Just when you think you’ve sorted out how to manage a swarm of these things, you’ll start encountering the plethora of power ups in Badland. There are objects that make your birds larger or smaller, others that make them sticky or bouncy, and a class of doodads that make them roll like wheels in one direction or the other. These are not just visual changes either. The birds actually respond differently to your tapping when their properties change. Grabbing a power with any one of your clones will translate the effect to all of them too. There are times you have to use this to your advantage to make it past some trap or danger, but there are no instructions telling you what’s dangerous and what isn’t. You’ll have to learn the rules of this strange world by trial and error frustrating at times but hey! Why make a game easy?
Badland has inky black silhouettes in the foreground that make up the terrain and your flock of clones. The background, by contrast, is incredibly bright and vivid. It’s a good look! Badland is beautiful and lovely to look at while playing. There’s a ton of detail in the brightly colored backdrops and the perspective shifts as you fly through the level. It’s actually several layers of backgrounds that get hazier the farther away they are. The effect makes this 2D game feel like it has some impressive depth.
Even though the part of the game you’re interacting with is almost entirely black, you can still tell what things are. A tangle of dry branches, decaying pipes, a hollowed out log, and deadly saw blades; you will instantly recognize what kind of terrain you’re traversing, though the traps and puzzles aren’t quite as obvious. What I do like about the game is the way the regular checkpoints keep things fluid.
I haven’t seen a hint of lag, even with a ton of clones on the screen bouncing every which way. I thought the game might slow down but it performs flawlessly. I have to say I still have a lot of levels to play but, from what I have seen so far, this game is a pleasure to play and, with all the incredible visuals and atmosphere, this really is complete eye candy.
So anyway, let’s get down to the price. Badland: Game Of The Year Edition is currently selling for £9.59 on the Xbox store and I think it’s fair to say it’s worth every penny. The sound and visuals really make this game and give you an amazing experience. I also have to say that currently indie games from all the developers are starting to get better and better and a joy to play. I’d even say some are far better than AAA games.
A Beautiful and well designed game with amazing colours and textures. A great break from the AAA games scene. Worth every penny!