Developer: Backflip Studios
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Band Together is full of creativity and youthful enthusiasm. That makes sense considering it was developed by students with assistance from Blizzard and id Software talent. However, its energy, while impressive, only brings it so far.
When a small-handed boy discovers a race of tiny, cardboard people called Bandies living in his great aunt’s attic, he does what all sadistic children do and subjects them to a series of platforming experiments like a pint-sized GLaDOS. Working together, Bandies will have to pull levers, navigate slopes, activate pressure plates and saw through Styrofoam to make sure that they can all reach the exit and escape the rolling baseballs and thumbtack death machines. In theory, it’s similar to Lemmings but in practice, manually dragging the Bandies themselves around instead of manipulating the environment beforehand gives the player a feeling of faster, more direct control. However, the controls aren’t the most responsive and have a bit of lag to them leading to some cases of accidentally dragging Bandies into their deaths and ruining a perfect score.
It’s easy enough to skip or restart a level, though, and seeing as the 30 levels can be breezed through far too quickly and easily, players might end up wanting to replay some of them. Luckily the puzzles are quite well-designed even if there are too few of them. Early on, the game reveals that Bandies need to stay near light to remain awake and active but usually only one Bandie will have the all-important candle on his head. Players will then have to carefully manage several different Bandies at once as proper placement becomes crucial. Crazier still, some puzzles actually require the player to sacrifice one or two Bandies for the greater good, like a communist version of LittleBigPlanet.
The game’s style goes a long way towards making up for its slight lack of substance. The musty cardboard world of the Bandies, while unchanging, is incredibly moody and atmospheric. Visuals have a handmade aesthetic along with a gothic whimsy like something out of a Tim Burton movie. This is achieved through an impressive engine with particularly great lighting. As for the sound, although the music repeats too often, the little chirps the Bandies make are the perfect mixture of cute and creepy.
In its current form, Band Together is really good, great even. It definitely deserves a look. There is still this nagging feeling though that with a few more levels, which are coming, or tighter controls it could be something fantastic.