Badland is an award-winning game, and deservedly so. My young one first saw the captivating adventure on a friend’s tablet. Since then, he’s been playing on our home computer. In Badland, players control a bunch of mysterious winged creatures. They look silly, flap their arms to fly, and tumble along any path. Badland is definitely unique, and it’s definitely fun.
I should mention that Badland might be a bit too spooky for very young children (much like The BoxTrolls or Coraline). It’s not a haunting Halloween game, but it’s not as bright and cheery as Cut the Rope. Badland has stunningly pretty graphics, with a glowing sun that lights up a foggy, interesting world. Old trees are overgrown with alien-like flowers and oddly colored bushes. Withered branches hang from high above, occasionally covered in autumn leaves. The world in Badland is deeply imaginative, and it may provide a strong source of inspiration for our creative little ones.
Learning how to play Badland is easy. When gaming on a computer, simply click the main mouse button or press the “up” arrow key to fly. Every single movement stems from that one button. Flying, rolling, and climbing all happens by flapping your character’s arms.
Despite having easy-peasy controls, this game isn’t easy to beat. As we’ve come to expect from single-player games, each new level is harder to beat than the last. At the beginning of the game, your child might progress very quickly, spending no more than a minute or two on each level. After that, the landscapes get tougher to cross, with all sorts of new variables coming into play.
Most of the action in Badland involves interacting with Mother Nature. Players must fly above hills and glide through caves. Certain branches are in the way, but they can be pushed aside or bent. In more advanced levels, dubious traps challenge gamers. There are windmill-like blades that block paths, teeter-totter barriers, and dangerously large boulders. The sheer number of special obstacles and traps makes Badland much more than a standard arcade game. It often plays like a puzzler, daring players to think creatively to cross the forest.
Badland has realistic physics, meaning everything acts as it would in our world. No two games play the same way. There’s a randomness to the levels, in what you’ll encounter and how you can win. I find this to be one of the elements children like the most, because there’s no repetition. Every time they play, something new happens. In fact, many new things happen.
There are ways to shrink your flying character and grow to massive sizes. Depending on the level, you might need to be very tiny to squeak through an underground tunnel. Or, you might have to be huge to barrel through a cluster of rocks. Each of the 300 missions is different, and that’s a very good thing. Badland is free, it is wonderful, and it’s parent-approved. Have a go, and you could end up playing it just as much as your young ones do.