You do not often see titles specifically designed for the mobile market to be transported under traditional consoles. We are used to seeing the reverse process, with conversions, spin-offs, or successful game adaptations on consoles in smartphone and tablet titles, which is pretty much taken in the current marketplace. But if a game created for mobile devices is transferred to real gaming machines, it usually means that it has achieved two main goals: it has achieved a truly extraordinary achievement and is characterized by a structure and a technical achievement that would not fade on notoriously more prestigious machines, facing a most demanding public.
This last point is of particular importance because the use of a title with the controller in hand and in front of the TV is necessarily different than that usually with a smartphone or tablet and only experiences of a certain level and of a certain depth can support the test of the navigated player. Badland had the cards in place to try the big step and this Game of the Year Edition demonstrates that the little creature of Frogmind has the strong enough wings to fly into much more ostentatious and selective territories than the App Store. The game then returns, after a couple of years of its first appearance on mobile devices, in this digital format for PCs and consoles, with a new edition including the substantial expansions released after the original launch, Day II, Daydream, Doomsday and a multiplayer compartment in a cooperative and competitive locale, in addition to a series of subtle but effective adjustments applied to the control system and consequently to the level design to kick the game on the controller and the new context of the home consoles .
Badland´s narrative is just mentioned in its enigmatic levels, hermetically engaging in the lights and shadows that characterize its graphic style, creating a fascinating solitude of mystery and magic around the wandering of the weird wing creature that we find ourselves in clatter awkwardly among thousand dangers. It's not hard to see Limbo's suggestions inside, turning to that line of games that mix melancholic and disturbing tones in bizarre and cynical interactive fables.
All we need to know is that the creature, called Clony, has to fly between so many obstacles to save his world, apparently threatened by strange machinery that can be seen moving in the background, with perceptible progression in advancing between levels while the day blur in the night and the tones become more and more dull, in parallel with an increase in the difficulty and danger that constantly surrounds the bizarre volatile protagonist. What is happening is, above all, intuitive, while the succession of levels within the four macro-areas formed during the various phases of the day is clear, starting from the morning, continuing to mid-day, then concluding at dusk and finally arriving at night a crescendo of difficulty and cushion that makes the idea of approaching the final battles of the challenge well. The original version of Badland was certainly out of the question for a great longevity, and even in this case, the Main Campaign does not require a large number of hours to complete, but the Game of the Year Edition has undergone a significant injection of content with integration of expansions released on mobile platforms and a somewhat rich multiplayer compartment, even though it can only be used locally for up to four players. In total, according to Frogmind, it takes about fifteen hours to complete all one hundred available levels for the single player, to which are added a hundred co-multiplayer levels and twenty-seven arenas for the competitive multiplayer.
Badland´s concept is extremely simple, but its implementation on the screen is enriched with a number of variables to which a mere textual explanation can not do justice, as is the case with a very good puzzle game. It is a complex mechanism whose gears are studied per millimeter in order to work properly, and the result is a balanced and profound game, though in its basic simplicity. Within forced scrolling levels, the goal is to reach the end of each section by trying to avoid traps and obstacles. Clony is controlled by the simple push of a button (one of the front keys or one of the triggers of your choice) that blows the wings of the creature, according to the setting directly borrowed from the original touch screen.
Transposition has inevitably lost that tactile synergy between the movement of the fingers on the screen and the flight of the protagonist characterizing the mobile version, but in this reduction something has gained in the introduction of the control through the analog stick. Unlike the original, in this you can give a flying direction of the creature, albeit in a just mentioned way, which has led to a slight but decisive overall level reorganization to accommodate this greater control. The first difficulty is represented by the need to learn to control Clony's flight, that is to say the real unlucky one, which requires a precise dosing of the pressure on the button (so it is preferable to use the trigger, which allows a certain "game "on its run) to avoid obstacles and not to stay behind with scrolling. The control system, however, expands and expands exponentially with the addition of various power-ups that can alter the behavior of the creature: speeding, slowing, amplifying movements or ensuring continuous rotation in contact with the walls or still allowing you to adhere to the surfaces. There are also dimensional modifiers that make Clony bigger or smaller, and ultimately the basic possibility of creating different clones of the protagonist with which to increase survival possibilities in particularly difficult steps or to divide on various paths to activate circuit breakers and ensure the passage and survival of at least one creature. The cynicism spoken about becomes apparent in these franchises, since sacrificing even a large number of clones is inevitable, when not really necessary, to allow even one creature to go to the end of the level, although the game naturally rewards the ability to bring as many clones as possible to save.
The use of chiaroscuro, as mentioned above, immediately recalls the Limbo mind and similar titles (Nifflas's NightSky may be another example), but the contrast between the dark silhouettes in the foreground of the protagonist and the sensitive elements of the scenario with the colorful and bright background creates a very special effect.
Following the tacit non-narration of the game, observing the colorful elements of the scenery, it is possible to perceive what is happening in the bizarre world of Clony, while the light degrades from the calming tones of the morning to the uneasy darkness of a night full of mysteries. The Game of the Year Edition has undergone further enrichment of the graphics segment with a full 1080p remastering, but the main element of the graphics industry is the particular style adopted by the team to represent the magic world of Badland. Without particular technological solutions, game makes us immerse in its world thanks to the hand-drawn designs and the strength of those dominant colors in the background that create a violent contrast to the dark figures we are forced to focus on. The mobile matrix is evident in its simplicity in the technical sector, but the artistic direction for once releases the game from the smart perimeter of smartphone production to distinguish it from the mass of titles also in the console and PC. Forget about polygons, pixels and frame rates, the game captures us in its bizarre world with no frills or verbose presentations, and although some graphic solutions are not entirely original, it is evocative and memorable even in the midst of thicker productions. The audio compilation contributes to the creation of dream and alien climates with the accompaniment of only sound effects during game stages and some rare music in intermezzo phases.
Although there are some critical discrepancies between the two worlds, Badland: The Game of the Year Edition shows that the best productions conceived for the mobile market can quietly shine even in the more traditional consoles and PCs. The sense of tactile control, which is based on a large part of the original experience, is inevitably lost here but Frogmind's great work on adjusting control with the addition of direction via analog and consequent calibration of the levels has to be recognized. Even the extreme simplicity of the concept, which might be unattractive outside of the mobile sphere, ceases to be a problem when it comes to the action, confirming how the title has been well adapted to home experience. It was only a pity for the relative brevity of the single experience, even in the face of a price obviously increased compared to the original.
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