The first thing to say in this Badland Game of The Year Review is about the beauty in simplicity and in Frogmind’s game. There is an eerie tone to this fantasy world you find yourself within, and your goal is simply to get through, one stage at a time.
You take control of a hedgehog like creature trying to explore the forest as you try and pass through the dark traps and obstacles that stand in your way. To move you tap the action button in a similar fashion to Flappy Bird, using it to propel yourself up and forwards using varying frequencies of tap to navigate through.
There is more too this title than simply avoiding things however. As you go through more and more of the land, you encounter more puzzles that require different power-ups, some that slow time down,some make you turn into a bouncing ball and, most common, increase or decrease in size.
Everything is so simple and well put together you may well find yourself swept up in this world, it might not be a long lasting feeling and, while it feels more suited to playing on mobile devices than a console, Badland GOTY Edition is an impressive indie game.
Look And Feel
When you start the game you are whisked right into the world, no menu and no options. The foreground is mainly in shadow and everything has a dark, eerie outline yet looks almost hand drawn. The background sees some stunning artwork catch your eye as you look into the colours, unusual characters and strange occurrences of this strange land.
Presentation wise, this game is beautiful and what brings you in more is the sound effects as you move your way through the stages. The dark shadows, sound effects, subtle sound track and ambiance of the forest really pull you into the experience.
This game is not all about graphics, but it is an incredibly artistic design that will really does impress throughout your time with the game. With the upgrade to full HD on this Game of The Year Version, this can now be fully appreciated in true, quality resolution.
Story and Gameplay
I say story and I’ve actually covered it already. The game is a simple one in both how it plays and its premise. You are simply a creature of the forest trying to explore and find out what is happening in as you make your way past the obstacles and puzzles in your way.
When you start the game you are thrust right into action, moving in classic 2D fashion from left to right. You do this by tapping the action button, A on Xbox One and X on PS4 as I played it, doing so raises you into the air, skipping taps has you falling back down again and leads for some similarities between this game and Flappy Bird. But this is, thankfully, where it ends since there is so much to think about as you try and escape each stage.
As you move forward the camera pans with you, but if you become trapped in the environment you are pulled off screen then it’s time to restart from the nearest checkpoint. Thankfully these are well placed and rarely leave you doing huge sections again, although some levels are short and fast and must be completed in one go.
In your way are some varying levels of traps, all based on an incredible physics engine that really makes everything feel like it’s falling to real gravitational forces. Rocks will come down, branches get in the way and paths narrow early on. But as you go further things come along that really hurt, big cogs grind you in an instant, harsh plants stab you to death and then you get strange lasers enter the fray later too.
Fortunately, you have a number of collectable power ups to keep you alive. Collect different ones as you go and you’ll be made bigger to smash some fallen objects, or ones will make you smaller and allow you to fit through narrow gaps. Slow down time, stick to things or turn yourself into a bouncing ball. There are so many different ones that that on their own are simple, but as everything expands around you and gets more complicated, you realise how in-depth the game actually is.
My personal favourite gameplay changers are the multiply power ups that split you into many versions of yourself as you try and pass certain sections. Only one has to get through but it’s fun trying to get as many as you can. And that’s what this game is all about, fun in the challenge of getting past the level. But while there is this fun element, there are numerous occasions where you simply, bundle your way through somehow. Most of the puzzles require thought and good reactions overall, so it does cheapen the experience slightly when you get past something based purely on luck.
While very fun to play and well designed. the novelty can wear off after a time, especially on a console. You’ll be very addicted as you play but then you can easily leave it alone for some time and play something more suited to console gaming. Playing on the Vita was my preferred method, but that’s not to say it wasn’t worthwhile on PS4, just perhaps not its best use.
Badland Game of The Year Editions packs some content, there are a huge number of stages to pass through, and then you have local multiplayer levels too. Whether or not your obsession lasts long enough to see them all is down to how much you get swallowed up by the addictive quality to this title.
I think this is a great game, it’s stretching itself a little going onto the console but it’s so well designed and has such addictive gameplay that you can understand why they did it. For the price of the title, it’s certainly worth your time.
Badland Game of the Year Edition may not be the best use of your console but its beautiful artwork and incredible gameplay, that offers a real challenge, make it a fantastic indie game well worth an explore.
Badland Game of The Year Review Format: PS4