About two years ago a side scrolling platformer under the name Badland appeared on iOS and took the world by storm receiving many awards. This game has now made its way onto consoles in the form of Badland Game of the Year edition and I’m just hoping it lives us to its reputation.
The game of the year edition comes in the form of the core game with some nice enhancements in the form of graphics, all the DLC and co-op and multiplayer modes, so we are not off to a bad start, but what is Badland..?
Badland itself is a side scrolling puzzle platformer where you take the form of a Clony, a very dark little critter that can just about fly, it looks like an angry bird with attitude, and your main task is to traverse from one end of the forest to the other, sounds easy doesn’t it? However the forest is a dark mechanized world where at every point there is something wanting to slice and dice you up preventing you from reaching your goal.
Still sound easy? Well, apart from the death-dealing, saws, spiked gears, chains, falling debris preventing you from reaching your goal there is also the screen itself. As you start to navigate your way through the level the screen starts to also move to the right on its own accord, bringing a sense of urgency to the game. So not only do you have to contend with dodging all the above you also have to now worry about the getting caught by the screen. If your Clony gets caught or stuck the level itself will catch you up and swallow you whole leading to game over. This forced me on many occasion to rush through the level and many times face an unsightly death by one of the forest machines, while trying to avoid the screen so a real balance needs to be taken on skill and timing, whilst at the same time keeping your cool.
As mentioned your Clony can fly and this can be achieved by holding down the A button or one of the triggers. I soon discovered as I hurtled to my doom into a giant chainsaw that by tapping the A button you could, if timed correctly, hover. Very useful and once mastered, key to the success of navigating the tiny gaps and obstacles to achieve victory.
As with every side scrolling platformer there needs to be power ups and Badland doesn’t fail on this. As you navigate your way through the various stages you can pick up power ups that can alter your physical form making you very large to extremely small, speed up and slowing down time and even multiplying you but like any game there is a time and a place for all these and not all of them are useful. When I did manage to clone myself I did find that they tended to be more sacrificial than anything else and as a navigated my way through a level I would look back to see the trail of destruction as my clones tried to follow (in the loose sense) and get mangled and chopped to pieces. However saying that they did have their uses and can be used to set off traps and mines or move obstacles that would otherwise hinder your way forward. (You have to be cruel to be kind).
Like most platformers I have tried and played you are going to meet a lot of failures as you try to solve each level and Badland is no exception. However when you finally do manage to crack the level there is some feeling if inner satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, I watched over and over as my Crony kept dying at the same point time and time again but just when you think you have reached your tether and are willing to fling your controller across the room you get through and peace and harmony returns once more if not for a brief second as the next level loads.
I could not help wonder if this was intentional (by Frogmind Games) as far too often these games are easy and take no time what so ever to master but this one I really did feel at some points I might be beaten.
The game itself is breathtaking and looks amazing, thanks to the HD improvements that have come with the GOTY edition. Each level has such detail and colour, dragging you into the world, just then to be reminded of the sinister machines that lie in wait which in contrast are all black and spikey and really do look menacing against the backgrounds. Add to this a very simple soundtrack that combines beautiful forest sounds, wildlife, waterfalls and oh don’t forget the machines smashing and slicing this game really does draw you in but is there enough to keep interested?
I would have to say yes to this, with over 100 levels in the single player and each one averaging a few minutes to complete (or maybe 10 if you are as bad as me) there is definitely enough to keep even the most hardcore platformer focused. What got me really excited was the co-op and multiplayer modes that come with the GOTY edition. Even though these are both local play only, they bring a huge amount of extra content to the game, with a 100 levels for Co-op and 27 multiplayer death match stages allowing you to battle it out with three of your friends. All this extra content brings a new dynamic to the game and as mentioned before in earlier reviews I find it better when you don’t have to play with yourself all the time. Out of the two I found the co-op to be the most rewarding even if it did mean my youngest constantly shouting at me for getting killed all the time. I blame age and reflexes personally.
Overall what do I think? The conversion to console has gone well, yes there is some problems with the controls sometimes but it’s definitely a game that could entertain you for days and will have you revisiting it over and over even if it’s just to see if you can create new ways to kill your Clony, not that I ever did that. Add to this the Co-op option and I think it truly deserves a place on your console. Yes I know there are other games like this but if you are looking for a darker side version of say Ori and the Blind Forest and then you won’t go far wrong.
Thanks to Xbox for supporting TiX
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