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Badland: Game of the Year Edition Review

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I must admit to having passed Badland by on its mobile release. How that happened, god only knows as by all accounts it was a pretty massive thing a year or two back. But hey, mobile games are two a penny with a market saturated by tappy tappy touchscreen affairs…even if the decent ones are a little less common. But now Badland has made its arrival onto the big screen with a Game of the Year Edition, I just can’t let it pass without having a little play. Am I going to be kicking myself for missing out on the fun first time round? Or could I have lived without experiencing the delights of the clumsy Clony?

Well, that’s a very good question. Badland is more than good enough to hold its own amongst all manner of five minute time wasters that frequent the mobile divisions – indeed, the huge number of awards the game has won points to that – but whether it’s got what it takes to have a lasting appeal on console would be completely down to the individual.

BADLAND 5

You play as Clony, a clumsy flying creature who you need to help navigate his way through hundreds of levels. Set within a dense forest, beautifully realised with outstanding visuals and filled with all manner of deadly contraptions which come to life the further Clony advances, Badland features a single player mode that contains no less than 100 levels split across two separate days, with additional Daydream and Doomsday sections completing the full on Game of the Year adventure. What starts off relatively easy, soon progresses into some of the hardest side scrolling physics based gameplay that I’ve seen on Xbox One.

At times, too hard. But hey, we like a challenge!

The controls are simple enough, with a push of the left stick you can direct Clony towards his goal, whilst a press and hold of the A or RT buttons is just about enough to get your strange friend flapping his way around. Don’t expect precision with placement in Badland, because that’s not what you’re going to get; instead each and every press of the button slowly moves Clony around the obstacles in place, Flappy Bird style. If there were any form of lag taking place in Badland, then things would very quickly transcend into a horror show; thankfully each and every press is defined and takes hold well. But you’ll need to be quick with those buttons as the constantly scrolling screen will see Clony end up dead if he doesn’t make his way through in time.

BADLAND 3

But Clony isn’t alone. For his unique party piece comes in the form of being able to clone himself into dozens of other Clonys, all who are controlled by you, at the exact same time. As you can imagine, with multiple clones on the screen at once, all trying to find their way through tight spaces at the same time, disaster is very much on the cards. But death is something that is positively encouraged in Badland and it’s not all bad! If Clony himself gets hit by a spinning saw blade or crushed between some mechanical structure, and there are others around, then you’ll be placed in control of one of his brethren – ready to continue the journey forward.

Whilst Clony and his friends struggle along their way, the inclusion of well placed power ups (and downs) mean things get mixed up a bit. At times, you’ll need to collect a floating orb that decreases everyone in size, just so you can fit through the tiniest of gaps; other times you’ll need to be as large as possible in order to break through the structures in front of you. Include orbs that speed things up massively, slow the whole pace right down so you can move your way through the trickiest of situations, make Clony stick to near on everything or bounce around like a powerball, and you’ll quickly see why Badland is not just an addictive playthrough, but something that will keep you going forever more.

The sole aim of the game is to get one, two, three, or as many clones as you can to the special magical pipe at the end of each level. The more you rescue, the higher you’ll place on the worldwide leaderboards and the less likely you are to have to go back over the same level in order to 100% complete the game. Although, if I’m being honest, if you manage to 100% complete Badland Game of the Year Edition, saving all the clones possible or dieing very few times then you’re a better man than me. A much better man. The sheer scale of the task at hand in obtaining all the mission ‘eggs’ for each level could well see you still battling away with Badland well into the next decade!

BADLAND 2

And then there is the multiplayer. Whilst online multiplayer is sadly missing – the issue of network latency holding Frogmind Games back on that one – the local co-op and deathmatch multiplayer modes are cleverly played out. Taking up to three more friends with you on a journey through the Badlands, all controlling separate Clonys (or his new name equivalent), spawning clones and picking up orbs at the same time is great fun. In fact, I’d happily go with the fact that cooperative cloning is more rewarding than that found in the single player campaign. At times you’ll have to sacrifice yourself in order for the ‘team’ to progress, hoping that they’ll be able to spawn you back into action sooner rather than later, or will need to work together as a big butch battering ram in order to stay on screen together. With 100 levels again available for cooperative play, if you can grab a local friend or three, then you’ll have great fun battling your way through.

I can’t however say the same for the multiplayer versus modes though. With one clear goal of making it through to the end of each stage quicker, and with more clones in tow, than your opponents, it’s good fun for a while, but quickly gets a little stale and boring. Being able to set up tournaments consisting of multiple levels and stages is a nice touch but ultimately, unless you’ve all had a few beers, you’ll quickly tire of it. For some strange reason, the multiplayer side of things also brings about a fair amount of screen lag, stutter and overall slowdown. I’m not sure why this should happen in the deathmatches alone and can’t put it down to numerous players causing the issues as it wasn’t found in the coop mode, but for a few seconds every now and then, the multiplayer matches became horrid to play through.

BADLAND 7

There is no debating Badland is occasionally frustrating but in the end, completion of a level brings about a great deal of reward; even if at times you may not have a clue as to how you’ve got Clony to safety! Well thought out levels filled with puzzles, cleverly placed checkpoints and the option to skip ahead to a further point in each stage once all else has failed, ensures that you should just about get a chance to experience the whole damn thing.

Whether you’d bother going back to run through each and every level once more in order to save more clones is probably different for each individual, but if you do fancy a challenge, you won’t find anything harder or more satisfying.

Neil Watton
Neil Wattonhttps://www.thexboxhub.com/
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S - mostly with the brilliant indie scene that has come to the fore. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.

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9 years ago

[…] Neil Watton (neil363) I must admit to having passed Badland by on its mobile release. How that happens, god only knows as […]

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