Daily iPhone App: Badland is a gorgeous alien journey

Mike Schramm
M. Schramm|04.05.13

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Daily iPhone App: Badland is a gorgeous alien journey

One of my favorite things about the App Store is that it can offer some completely original and crazy ideas. Developers do have to get approval from Apple to be published, but that approval doesn't require a game to make sense or be clear, only that it works as advertised. Badland is one such product of this system. It's a wild and wacky, totally alien experience that I don't think would get published anywhere else but on a platform such as the App Store.

It's a platformer of sorts. You guide a little creature with some weird, flappy arms through a 2D environment on an alien planet, touching the screen to send him flapping upwards and releasing it to let him float back down. I don't know what your creature's name is, or even what he is -- the game works without words, communicating the premise and the story entirely through gameplay. But as you move through the levels, avoiding dangers as best you can, you collect various objects that give you other abilities: You can split the little guy into a few different creatures, grow or shrink him, or speed him up or slow him down.

That's just in the first levels. Badland is simply oozing with creativity, both in terms of the gameplay situations it throws at you, but also in that incredible art. The actual levels are essentially drawn in black 2D outlines, but the game's background is a colorful, crazy planet, full of life that seems completely alien. The game's audio is very impressive as well -- you can clearly hear each clank and thump as your creature bounces his way through the world, and the ambient sound is also very well done.

Badland is a treat, and we're lucky to have it. It's available for US$3.99, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a must-play game. Developers might argue about how "open" Apple's platform is, but being able to see such an original game like this on iOS makes me believe that Apple's doing something right.

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