Crickey O’Riley. Only one quarter into 2013, and we’ve already got a hands down contender for mobile game of the year.
Badland is to Limbo style artsy silhouette physics games what Rayman Jungle Run is to cutesy platformers; which is to say it boils the whole lot down to one button, and that it’s also bloody, bloody good. That’s a summing-up for those of you interested in the aesthetic of the game, anyway – in gameplay terms, it’s the physics of Locoroco with the controls of Jetpack Joyride.
If you even made it to the end of that paragraph without stampeding toward the App Store, then obviously you’re wrong and need telling. Go on, off you fuck. The rest of us will listen to the Locoroco song while you’re gone.
There. Now that’s sorted, you’ll need no telling that Badland is about a flock of flying hedgehogs flinging down a dark corridor of whirling blades, falling rocks, spinning fans, crushing gears and other assorted killy stuff.
The odd thing about Badland, which is actually sounding pretty horrific now that I type it all out on the screen, is that it’s an unexpectedly whimsical-feeling game. This is due in no small part to its lightweight physics which, for all the bleating morons complaining that the game is sluggish and unresponsive in the iTunes views, feel delightfully light and airy. To describe it, flinging your hedgehogs down the game’s gauntlet and watching them bounce off the scenery brings on a euphoria which feels oddly like the relaxing pleasure of chucking a few balls of scrunched up newspaper into a fan and watching them bounce about a bit. Ponk. Ponk. Ponk. Only, every fifth ponk is the sound of a paper ball exploding or getting snagged in the motor.
Naturally theory thing better than a giant hedgehog gestalt hurtling through is four giant hedgehog gestalts hurtling in competition, one player each taking a corner of the screen. I admit I was skeptical as to the inclusion of a PvP mode rather than a co-op, but after under five minutes of playtesting, myself and my barely legal second player were actually laughing out loud. That’s a strong testimonial for a game which already made me feel like I’d got two pound fifty worth of fun out of it before I’d finished the first of the game’s areas. When I’ve finished it, I’m going to keep it of the iPad just in case I’m ever in a pub again with more than one other person. It’s going to be epic.
New level packs will be coming soon, but that’s no reason not to adopt early. Trust me, this is going to be one of this big ones of 2013.