Hands-on with Frogmind's beautiful auto-run puzzler Badland
By Mark Brown 12 March 2013
Game Name: Badland | Developer: Frogmind Games | Publisher: Frogmind Games | Format: iPhone, iPad | Genre: Adventure | Networking: on one device
Development on the absurdly handsome iOS adventure Badland is over, creator Frogmind tells us, and the game will hit the App Store "in a month's time".
It's essentially an auto-runner, (wait! Come back!) but with plump little birds that drop like stones if you don't keep tapping on the screen.
In each level you have to navigate the dangerous terrain by avoiding falling rocks, dodging explosive plants, and squeezing through narrow gaps before you fall off the screen and expire.
There are all sorts of understated and organic environmental puzzles along the way, and you have to solve them on the fly as you're constantly moving forward.
You'll need to nudge buttons, push pillars, and outrun tumbling boulders. The puzzles are ingenious, though it can be grating to have to go back to a checkpoint if you can't figure out the solution on time.
There are also different power-ups you can snag. One makes you speed up, another makes you slow down. One coats you with adhesive so you stick to the surroundings, and the most crucial one creates clones.
These replicants come in handy - you might need to split your troupe in two, say, sending one group to collect the power-ups that will shrink the other group until they are small enough to crawl through a narrow tunnel.
Sure, the first group will probably be squished by falling rocks or chewed up by saw blades, but that's sacrifice for you.
Badland has an amazing ambience to it. By marrying stark silhouette foregrounds - popularised by Xbox Live Arcade's Limbo - with rich and colourful backdrops, it looks outstanding, and has a moody, disquieting atmosphere.
There's also a really satisfying physicality to the game. Everything has weight and heft to it - even your podgy birds, who can barely hold themselves aloft with their diminutive wings.
There's a lot to Badland. It has a huge campaign, with one level spilling straight into the next. Or, you can go back and replay levels to finish sub-missions.
There's even a multiplayer mode which works on one iPad, and Everyplay support so you can record a video of your shenanigans.
More's on the way, too. Frogmind tells us, "we want to bring new content and features in updates".
Badland should hit the App Store in late March, or early April, we'd say. We'll let you know when we have an exact date.