Casual Monday: Badland

We know how it is. You worked hard for your 10:1 KDR, but sometimes, you just want to take five, relax, and enjoy a quick game on your phone. Unfortunately, finding good games is anything but quick – most mobile gems end up buried under a mountain of trash. But like we said, we know how it is, so every Monday we shine a spotlight on a great diversion to get you through the work week.

As much as we all enjoy the mindless matching of games like Candy Crush and the endless running of others like Temple Run, sometimes what you really need is a classic, sidescrolling platformer to meet your gaming needs on the go. Frogmind’s Badland, while not exactly a platformer in the traditional sense, represents one of the best this category has to offer, and is well worth a spot amongst your other favorite time-killing stalwarts.

Badland is a physics-based platformer that has you flapping your way through a forest full of increasingly lethal traps and contraptions. Placing your finger on the screen makes your round, fluffy character rise, while removing it causes him to fall. Similar games might be constricted by such simple and limited controls, but Badland manages to continuously inject creativity and challenge without sacrificing the invaluable accessibility of its design.

screen640x640 (2)

Over the course of the game you’ll come across a multitude of power-ups, changing everything from the size and shape of your creature to the speed at which levels scroll, and these combined inventive level design prevent Badland from becoming repetitive. Instead it becomes quite challenging, but with no limit on lives and perfectly placed checkpoints, the perplexing difficulty is never overly cruel or unforgiving.

Perhaps the most notable of these power-ups creates clones of your character, and it shows up frequently in most levels. Whether you’re given just one more creature an entire flock, it’s always a satisfying and frantic change that shifts your focus from simple avoidance to group management. Leading a cluster of critters through the hazardous gauntlet before you is a real challenge, and few will make it it to the hose-like vacuum at the end of each level. You’ll see your flying friends torn to shreds, zapped, and blown up by the endless traps set along their path to freedom, but as long as you finish with at least one of your creatures alive you’ll pass the level. Saving more earns you accolades though, and you’ll earn more tangible rewards as your adventure progresses if you keep them all alive.

screen640x640

Badland’s simple design is nothing short of elegant. The game is beautiful, employing a dark, shadowy foreground that clashes brilliantly with colorful and detailed backgrounds. It lends the game a sense of foreboding that is only magnified by the tense, echoing atmosphere. Every flap, squish, and grind is audible in the gloom, and you’ll gain a tangible feeling of solitude and tension as you progress.

Badland is perfect for solo sessions of any length, but you can also enjoy it with up to three of your friends in surprisingly addictive co-op and PvP modes. Each player is given a portion of the screen to tap and guide their character through the traps of each level, flapping for their lives. It can quickly become chaotic and fiercely competitive – a nice bonus packed into an already robust single player package.

With tons of well-designed, highly replayable levels, Badland is an absolute steal at $3.99.  It’s both adorable and menacing, and easily one of the most stylish, polished, and consistently fun games available for mobile devices. What are you waiting for? Get flapping.