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Boundland review - A platformer too simple for its own good

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Bound and gagged

Product: Boundland | Publisher: Umbrella | Format: iPad | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Boundland iPad, thumbnail 1
For a lot of games on mobile, stripping mechanics down to the absolute minimum is a godsend – provided everything else is up to scratch.

In the case of Boundland, while it's certainly nailed the "simple mechanics" aspect, the rest of the game feels similarly simplistic, and not in a good way.

It's not the worst game you'll ever play, but with frustrating menus, strange design choices, and a general lack of compelling content, it's certainly not one of the best.

Bouncing off

The main objective of Boundland is to navigate small, one-screen mazes to reach the star, all the while grabbing bonus gems and avoiding spikes and enemies.

To move, you slide your finger backwards like a slingshot to guide your character's direction, and release to send it flying. You can do this mid-air too, so there's no need to wait until you move again.

The trick is to make small movements around the stage, making short, gentle leaps as you go – lest you suddenly find yourself impaled on a spike.

There's two modes to try out – Story and Arcade – with the former offering a specific series of stages, while the latter randomises which order you play in.

Story mode is clearly the place to begin, as it eases you into the game with a steady difficulty curve, while Arcade is where you're expected to spend your time once the main levels are over.

Out of bounds

Sadly, neither mode is particularly engaging. Story mode has just 50 levels to play, which with a bit of persistence you can blast through in no time, and Arcade mode will spit you out within a minute of you starting.

The issue is that you only have one life per level – jump into any of the spiky obstacles and that's it, game over.

For Story mode the penalty is even more severe, as you're instantly kicked out to the main menu without warning, rather than staying in the mode with an option to try again.

Arcade mode offers the chance to keep going with a video ad, but only if you've cleared a few levels first – screw up too early and that's it, you're gone.

The menus themselves are nightmarish to navigate too, with a wealth of buttons on every screen but very rarely a clear way to just keep playing the game without further intrusion.

And the whole experience just feels lacking. The graphics are fairly basic geometric shapes with garish, bright colours, and once you've played a handful of levels, you've basically seen all there is to offer.

Bounce no more

Overall, Boundland may be a little too simple for its own good, and ultimately falls short of being an enjoyable experience.

While the basic movement mechanic is well-executed, the game that's been built around it doesn't do enough to draw you in.

With clumsy menus, frustrating game design, and a lack of content should you get past all that, there's really very little to recommend here.
Boundland review - A platformer too simple for its own good
Reviewer photo
Ric Cowley | 2 October 2017
While its core mechanic is strong, Boundland's overall experience is severely lacking
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