Badland is a special game. With uniquely lush graphics, inviting sounds, and ever-so-simple controls, it appeals to players of all ages. Lately, I’ve been playing Badland just as much as Leo.
What’s it all about?
Badland is a magical type of flying game. Players control a mystical creature: a shadowy figure who can grow, shrink, and flap its arms to fly. One could reduce Badland to the genre of “endless runner,” but it’s much more than that. In order to win, players must think quickly, make daring moves, and solve puzzles on the fly (pun intended). In addition to flying, there are hills to climb, tunnels to roll through, and traps to conquer. It’s an absolutely mesmerizing game.
The visuals in Badland remind me of Tim Burton movies (e.g. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Frankenweenie). The style is captivating, twisted, and a bit dark. The landscapes in Badland are filled with towering trees, gnarly branches, and wildlife galore. But the Badland isn’t just any eerie environment; it seems to be a glimpse into another world. Some of the shrubbery comes to life as you pass. Certain fields are protected by natural wonders. More often than not, it feels like we’re trespassing in a dangerous place.
Badland has hundreds of missions and levels. With so many challenges to beat, there’s replay value for days and days. Each mission is different than the previous one, requiring gamers to continuously adjust to their surroundings. Some levels teach important lessons, such as when to use a speed boost to zoom past approaching rocks. It might be easier said than done, but that’s part of the fun. One of my favorite power-ups is the shrinking pod, which transforms your creature into a bat-like being. If you’re tiny enough, you can fly through practically any path, no matter how narrow the cave or how small the opening. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the growing pod is equally entertaining. If you pick up enough of them, you can balloon out to the size of a small tree!
Badland sounds just as great as it looks. The soundtrack, which is mostly free of music, is absolutely filled with glorious sounds. Right from the get-go, it feels like we’re transported to a different universe. Maybe I’m influenced by the sunlit environment, but I’m reminded of the mysterious island from TV’s Lost. Perhaps an even more accurate description of the soundscape is that of Pandora from James Cameron’s Avatar. The stereo sounds in Badland are truly magical. It’s immersive for the player and a real treat for anyone nearby. When Leo is playing Badland, I’m not annoyed by the same song or sound effects over and over. Instead, I can enjoy the serene sounds of a dreamy universe.
In case it isn’t clear, I’m a big fan of Badland. It has already entertained millions of gamers, Leo (and myself) included. First impressions are important, so don’t let the title deceive you. Badland is all good.