Badland for iOS review: an instant, indie classic

I follow a lot of app blogs online, and have tons of notifications going off everyday regarding apps that have been discounted or set as free for the day. The vast majority of these apps that go free though, are crap, and I end up deleting most of them after the first use, thankful that I didn’t waste any money on them, while feeling sorry for those who did. Recently though, in celebration of the App Store’s fifth birthday, the net went wild with the list of apps that had been made free. Among them was an indie game from Helsinki called Badland (US$3.99), I decided to check it out.

Firstly though, a word of warning: if you are reading this at work, please wait until you get home to play Badland. Not because it’s NSFW or anything like that, it’s just highly addictive and you can pretty much kiss your productivity goodbye once you start playing it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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So, what is Badland all about? Let me tell sum it up for you in a little recipe. Take the atmosphere and experience of Oddworld and combine it with the innovative gameplay of Superbrothers: Swords & Sorcery. Then, mix that up with the most realistic physics engine ever, throw in a huge dose of WTF and you have Badland; a 100% indie developed, atmospheric side-scroller that will have you glued to your device for the next couple of weeks as you navigate though numerous buzz-saws, prickly mines and all types of dark machinery looking to crush you and your fellow clones.

The idea of the game is to guide your little character (a blob with a weird set of legs/claws/fins) from one end of an eerie forest-meets-factory landscape to the other in the fastest way possible, without being killed. As you progress through each level, you’ll be faced with puzzles that need to be solved, as well as power-ups that help you get through tricky situations. You’ll also pickup clones along the way that also need to be controlled and guided safely to the little vacuum pipe that takes you to the next level. Sounds pretty much like every platformer out there right? Yes, but no (but).

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What sets Badland apart from anything you’ve played before is the sheer level of detail and effort put into every single aspect of the game. First of all, the game is an absolute treat to look at; taking full advantage of every single pixel available to it, without cluttering your experience with unnecessary flashiness. The sound effects are top-notch and contribute greatly to the game as a whole and as such quality earphones are definitely recommended to enhance the experience. 

The simplicity of the controls combine exceptionally well with the first couple of levels to ease you into the gameplay and make sure you understand everything about this seemingly simple, yet quite complex game. From the objectives to the power-ups available, Badland is something that anyone can pick up and get addicted to in a matter of a few seconds.

But in all honesty though, the main thing that blew me away way about Badland is the manner in which developers Frogmind have utilized the physics engine for this game. Never before have I seen such perfection and mastery in terms of what can be done in a mobile game; from bouncing off oddly shaped stalagmites to carefully navigating past massive buzz-saws in slow motion, the realism will amaze you and leave you wanting for more.

Make sure you add this to your games collection on all your iOS devices, it will instantly be your new addiction and is definitely one of those games that will go down in history as a classic.

Download Badland directly from iTunes for US$3.99 (R40)



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