Badland Revisited: As the Clony Flies – a game review
Look! It’s a hedgehog with bird-wings, no it’s a flying ball of black fluff, no it’s Clony, inhabitant of Badland, flying through a fantastically strange world! Badlands 2 is out too, but we revisited the original award-winning game ‘cause we’re nostalgic–and it’s bad-ass in its cutely weird way.
When Hedgehogs Fly!
Clony is his name, the hero of the game! The game–Badland–is a multi-award winner released in 2013 with 30 million+ downloads. Badland 2 is just out of its long soft-launch-geo-restricted beta exile and raring to fly. But let’s go back…
Day 1–Morning: Clony our winged hedgehog (though he’s been called little black creature, rolling inhabitant and even tribble) emerges from a Steampunk looking dimensional time pipe (?) into a bizarre primeval forest. Tap, tap, tap and he takes to the air through the endless side-scroller environment. But the seemingly peaceful landscape is fraught with danger–falling boulders, deadly propellers, shredding turbines, impaling spikes and explosive mines to name a few. He flutters & rolls through the dark canopy avoiding or utilising the subterfuge to stay alive. Make it to the next pipe-portal and you’re sucked into the next forest segment.
It’s a hard life, but Clony has a few resources of his own. He has several possibilities to cluster and multiply into a horde of Clony clones which are useful as fodder. Only one must survive to continue, but getting as many through the next portal seems to be the main mission. Other power-ups shrink or enlarge him to get through tight spaces or push through barriers. Still others speed up or slow down his flight. Morning turns to day, then dusk and eventually night and Clony ventures on through Badland–dying quite often. As you’ll find out, the worlds are full of surprises!
The Mechanics of Beauty
One bad-ass thing about Badlands is the striking hand-painted artwork. Beautifully rendered backgrounds of the forest and its seemingly curious inhabitants and vibrant changes from morning to night scenes are downright ethereal! The silhouetted foreground where the action takes place holds new surprises beyond each portal dimension-level. Despite the stygian black of the foreground, detail thrives. It’s as if Clony flits through the undergrowth, the dark side of an otherwise enchanted forest. This darkness, combined with the vivid backdrops conjures a 3-D effect to its 2-D reality. But for poor Clony the forest is a poisoned chalice–the graphics & foreboding sound convey this perfectly.
Gameplay mechanics rooted in physics–another bad-ass aspect of Badland–we simply love! You’ll quickly get the gist of flying as the tap-fly controls are simple. As there is no instruction, figuring out what to do is empirical–deadly trial-and-error. The physics aspect especially comes into play when you hit a clone power-up node. Often several nodes are nestled in the dark crags, so suddenly one becomes many. Your tap controls remain the same, yet each clone has his own movement mechanic. It becomes obvious that getting as many clones through the next portal is the name of the game. Furthermore, the farther you go, getting past traps becomes mind-bogglingly challenging. With 80 ever-changing levels you’ll have plenty of opportunity to figure it out!
Frogmind Games, the Helsinki-based masterminds behind Badland have recently graced us with the sequel, Badland 2. They’ve gone one-up, taking the visuals and details beyond the beauty of the original, though the gameplay concept remains the same. Of course you can play it mobile, but there’s nothing like playing big on a huge screen with Apple TV , Android TV or Fire TV. Here at Couch-Games we felt Badland needed revisiting before venturing into the world of Badland 2. So if it’s new to you, go to Badland first and you’ll be all the more excited to get into the sequel!