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May 26, 2015

BADLAND: Game of the Year Edition Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $9.99
We Recommend: $9.99
  • Developer: Frogmind
  • Publisher: Frogmind
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
  • Released: May 26, 2015
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Playstation Vita
  • Reviewed: Windows

Even though BADLAND originally released on iOS back in 2013, the “Game of The Year Edition” comes never-too-late in 2015. While this is the first time it is coming to PC and consoles, and it is no less impressive than it was years ago.

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It is clear that the game receives enhancements for the debut on consoles and PC, supporting resolutions above 1080p. With the support of controllers, the developers at Frogmind rebuild the levels to suit the need of implementing full controls. The levels themselves are largely unchanged, but with more control from the player, there’s changes where needed.

For those who don’t know, BADLAND is a side-scrolling action adventure platformer that uses physics in unique ways across more than 100 levels, which contains all of the updates the iOS version has had. There’s no real story to the game, you play as this flappy hedgehog to traverse through each of the levels, which demand different things out of you.

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The striking silhouettes of the foreground contrast with the highly detailed and rendered backgrounds are full of mystery that never gets explained. The sound effects are minimal, but effective, often sounding like an aviary mixed with mechanical parts moving and clanging. The days you play spawn a full cycle of Dawn, Noon, Dusk, and then Night, with each part of the day visually distinct from the last.

Power-ups are strategically placed for the player to benefit from, and sometimes to get the player into trouble. For instance, there are power-ups that enlarge the creature (or creatures) you play as, giving them weight to break objects, but hinder their ability to fit through tight spaces. The inverse is also available as a pick-up, to get smaller to fit through tight spaces for quick navigation. And others such as ones that spin you, or make you stick to surfaces are much needed for precision movement where any wrong move can get you killed. BADLAND‘s constant need to change things up creates a vibrant and fresh experience, level to level.

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There’s a noticable “luck over skill” element to the game that’s too big to ignore. And it becomes apparent several retries in, when you’ve changed nothing, but barely make it by just by pure happenstance. It’s only after playing a level for the first time that you learn what the goals of each level actually are. It’s a bit frustrating that you can’t know them from the outset to try to achieve what you can for your first try, but it is clear that Frogmind wants you to improve through repetition.

Unfortunately, there is only local multiplayer still, a holdover from the iOS version and something easier to implement. There’s 100 multiplayer co-op levels and 27 battle levels, some of which have to be unlocked through single player. The game even supports 4 players on a single keyboard, or any combination of controllers with keyboards.

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BADLAND: Game of the Year Edition is worthy of the title. It is largely unchanged at the core, but it is all of the things around it that make it a worthwhile purchase: the ability to play it with a controller, the visuals, the ambiance, and the always changing gameplay that is never dull. BADLAND: Game of the Year Edition is rewarding no matter how little or much you give it of your time – perfect for quick pick-up-and-play sessions, or those you spend hours perfecting a run.

A Steam code was provided by PR for review purposes