Short Takes - Badland: Game of the Year Edition (PS4)
Title: Badland: Game of the Year Edition
Platforms: PC/Mac/All PlayStation Platforms/Xbox One
While I'm not a big advocate of phone games, I will happily admit that — amongst the whopping three titles I've managed to get into on mobile — Badland has been one of the most enjoyable on-the-go gaming experiences I've had to date. That said, I was thrilled to hear this title was making its way to consoles in a “Game of the Year Edition,” making it a no-brainer purchase for me. I set Destiny down for an evening this week to finally check this one out on PS4, and I can happily report that it's a seamless transition from my Xperia to my big screen!
Badland tasks players with navigating a strange bird/hedgehog-looking creature through danger infested skies. Obstacles range from saws and bombs, to twisting boulders that are difficult to navigate, and players must do their best to make their way through each stage’s maze of hazards unharmed. Each level offers different power-ups, such as the ability to slow the game down or speed it up, in addition to bonus points for making it out alive with your clones intact. What are clones you say? Well, clones are exactly what they sound like: more copies of your little buddy that players are tasked with attempting to keep along for the ride until the end of a level.
The amount of chaos happening on screen at any given moment feels much more manageable with a controller as opposed to a tiny phone screen. While I suppose it could be argued that the game feels more responsive when playing on a touch screen device, I honestly feel that many of the levels are much easier now that I'm not covering a tiny portion of the screen with my hand. Before, when playing on my phone, my hand may have inadvertently been covering a bomb under a stick that I bumped on my way through the level, so it’s nice not to have to worry about this aspect of the game anymore. The increased field of visibility alone has exponentially increased the re-playability factor of this game in my book, as I feel it removes the only major gripe I had playing this game on mobile.
Many of the game’s obstacles can seem pretty daunting at first glance. I mentioned on our podcast that, at times, this game can come off as extremely challenging. It has an almost Dark Souls quality to it in this respect. While this comparison may be a gross exaggeration in some eyes, many times I found myself needing a half-dozen attempts to complete a section that required me to navigate through size-shifting saws in slow motion, or race a boulder in order to squeeze through a patch of branches up ahead. The game does a fantastic job pacing itself, gradually introducing these elements before putting your skills to the test in some pretty intense, yet extremely enjoyable ways. While failure is inevitable, I was never left with the sense that my mistakes were the fault of anyone but myself. Frustration is kept to a minimum as the game doesn't severely punish you for failure; many of the more complex bits are found around checkpoints. Several puzzles even had my girlfriend looking up from her phone to see what was going on as I was "Ohhhh come on, come oooonnnn-ing” my way through various close-call scenarios. It proved to be a rather entertaining thing for her to watch. She seemed pretty engrossed watching me hilariously try to navigate a small pack of clones through a patch of sticky ball-things that were instant death traps.
I feel that I've only scratched the surface of Badland: Game of the Year Edition, as this game offers a ton of levels. While there is plenty for me to play through myself, local co-op play is available as well. At some point, I hope to check this out with my girlfriend after I replace my second controller. If you enjoyed this little gem on your phone, you'll feel right at home navigating your way through each level with the comfort of a controller in your hands. Also, you no longer need to worry about your phone’s battery life while playing! I highly recommend picking up Badland: Game of the Year Edition on your gaming console of choice...unless it's a Wii U. #SorryBender