Developer: Frogmind
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

BADLAND is a quite beautiful amalgamation of side scrolling platform action, with a dash of Endless Runner about it. The latter part comes more from the one touch controls that ensure that BADLAND is easy to play for any ability, albeit not necessarily easy to complete thanks to a series of challenging obstacles.

40 levels pave the way and, while early stages are quite easy, later stages prove rather fearsome and tough. Even better, there’s plenty of replayability through the acquisition of clones which boost the rating of a level, once captured. BADLAND might sound immensely restricted due to its one touch controls, but that’s quite far from the truth.

At first, tapping on the screen is used more to keep the cuddly yet mildly sinister creature afloat, thrusting them through each stage and avoiding simple obstacles. Get pushed off the screen and it’s game over, but when early structures simply consist of pillars and platforms, it’s no great hardship. As things progress, however, and the player learns more about how to play, the imaginative nature of BADLAND shines through. Orange colored globes affect the size of the creature, either making him grow or shrink to some degree. Both have advantages and disadvantages, the former allowing him to crush certain things, and the latter allowing him to sneak through small gaps. Other power-ups emerge, too, such as one that allows him to stick to walls or roll at speed through the scenery.

Further more, the obstacles change, too, with mines and seesaws vital to progressing further, yet also providing quite a challenge. Puzzle elements emerge from the fast paced platforming, greatly expanding what can be done with such a simple idea. Throughout, BADLAND maintains an atmospheric edge with levels themed around the times of day and appearing distinctly eerie. Destructive saws play a pivotal role in adding the slightest hint of frustration, but regular checkpoints ensure there’s always that urge to try again.

There’s a Multiplayer mode, too, enabling players to join together to complete a level as quickly as possible. Such gameplay only requires one iOS device, something that works well on the iPad but I’d be cautious of whether it could work as well on the small screen space of an iPhone. It’s a nice touch, regardless.

BADLAND is full of such nice touches, ably demonstrating what can be accomplished through some stunningly memorable visuals, and a simple yet well thought out control system. It’s a challenging and immensely enjoyable romp.

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