Fantastic artistic styling and simple gameplay are hard to turn down — and it's free to play as well

I have to say that I'm not the biggest mobile gamer out there, but when I find a title that I like I tend to sit down and sink a few hours into it. This week that game is BADLAND, and its simplistic gameplay and great design have me hooked. BADLAND reminds me a lot of the game Contre Jour because it's extremely simple in terms of both control and design — you tap or tap and hold to move your character through maze-like levels while avoiding obstacles, all cast in jet black with a colorful background providing contrast.

There's very little strategy at play here, really. And against my usual tendency to like structured games I actually quite enjoy it here in BADLAND. As you move through the first handful of levels it does get difficult, but there isn't a set way to do things — you kind of just float around and do everything by feel and impulse.

The goal of each level is to make it from beginning to end quickly and without being destroyed by one of the many objects swirling or hacking to get you. As you grab power-ups, the pace of the levels increases and decreases accordingly — and I've found that it's just difficult enough in the early stages to give you a sense of immediacy without being ridiculously hard. That's a tough balance — especially for a casual-level game on a phone — but something they've nailed here.

One of the best parts about all of this is that BADLAND is free to play for a good while before you're expected to pony up for paid versions with more levels. The developers don't gouge you with in-app purchases either — once you've played through your allotment of free games, you can pay just a few dollars to unlock all multiplayer functions and new levels. It's a small price to pay for a well-designed and fun game that you'll undoubtedly find yourself spending hours on.