Are you ready for a trip to a mesmerizing land that is a living environment filled with hazards around every bend? If so, it’s time to take a journey to Badland, which is the furthest thing from bad. We got to preview Badland at GDC, and now it’s available to everyone, providing a side scrolling action adventure that is set to take platformers to an all new level. Most game have one or two high points, but Badland is bursting at the seams with remarkable qualities to make for a literally amazing iOS experience.
It’s tough to decide where to begin with so many outstanding qualities, but the level design is the true stand out. Every single one of the 40 levels is unique to keep the entire experience fresh, while always keep you guessing at what’s coming next. The levels are composed of all kinds of intricacies with moving gears, spinning blades, falling rocks, bombs, sticky pillars, collapsing pipes, and so much more. There’s always something moving in every section of a given level, and most combine for some juicy traps to try to avoid on the fly.
The levels are living thanks to a brilliantly designed physics engine for each object to react to your main character’s angle of impact, and size. Speaking of your main character, it’s a little black fuzzy creature than can float in mid-air, and you control its movements with a brilliant one touch control scheme. Platformers on iOS usually rely on virtual controls, but not Badland. It uses a one touch control scheme reminiscent of Tiny Winds, and Jetpack Joyride where you simply tap, and hold for your character to rise. The game brilliantly balances the casual nature of iOS while delivering a relatively complex action experience to make the genre accessible to anyone, and great for touch. In each level, you end up tapping repeatedly in an attempt to hover in the middle of the screen, and there’s a surprising amount of precision when maneuvering through a tight squeeze with death traps at the top, and bottom of the path.
What really takes the game to the next level is the inclusion of unique power-ups placed in specific spots in each level. Your character can change size, stick or bounce, and even be cloned with the different collectibles placed very methodically to aid you in moving forward. The power-ups heighten the action like very few games so you reach points where you duplicate your character ten times over, minimize all ten, and then speed through spinning saws that cut down your pack, but give you enough for one to push forward. The placement of the power-ups tie to the brilliant level design, so that each one is almost essential to the upcoming hazard, and later levels throw a wrench into the works with multiple choices, and hidden power-ups.
The gameplay is simply unlike anything else in the App Store with so much going on in each level as everything is triggered together so smoothly. At some points in the earlier level it does feel like you’re just going through the motions, but after the first set of ten levels, you’re in for one extreme challenge. You will die numerous times, but the game has an absolutely brilliant checkpoint system with seamless integration where the game restarts almost instantly at the beginning of a given trap. The level flow is never interrupted if you die, and you’re always right back in the action before you can even be frustrated that you died. The screen moves automatically ushering you forward, and you need to stay ahead of it, or else you will die, which is just another hazard in addition to all of the environmental traps. The main game pushes you forward through the 40 level campaign, but you can always go back to the level select screen to aim for the three different objectives on any given level.
All of the included action is rendered so beautifully so multiple characters bouncing around being crushed or sliced, all flow at the great speed of the overall game. The art design is absolutely exquisite with bright, and colorful backgrounds that ever so slightly change as you go by. In the foreground is black machinery to establish a very contrasting art style. The soundtrack works to further immerse you in the atmospheric nature, and both visuals and sounds combine to make every tap and death so jarring. Every single part of the game is so surprising, and to round out the package, there’s a hectic multiplayer mode with up to four local players, though no online component. The game also includes Everyplay, like Nimble Quest, to show off video of your crazy Badland run to others.
Badland ($3.99, Universal) is such an immersive experience that is not to be missed if you have an iOS device. There are just so many marvelous aspects whether it’s the ornate level design, beautiful graphics, immersive soundtrack, action packed layouts, touch friendly and precise controls, and combination of traps and power-ups. All of it works together in harmony to make Badland an absolute must that is one of the best experiences on iOS.
Our Everyplay Demo: