Every once in a while, we return to games we loved in years past. From puzzlers to arcade games to minimalist gems, Android's vaults have something for everyone, and you can read about them here in our occasional series called Classic Game Reviews.
It's amazing that a game released four years ago can still feel so fresh and innovative, but such is the case for Badland. Beautifully designed with casual, side-scrolling puzzle gameplay, Badland garnered wide praise for its intuitive gameplay and artistic design upon its release. In spite of all the games and updated hardware that has come out since, Badland still stands out in 2017 as an absolute must-play on Android.
You play as these cute forest dwellers which you control by tapping to flap their wings as the screen scrolls along through the dark and mysterious forest. Start a solo campaign and you're thrown right into the game to start to explore the odd forest filled with dangerous traps, power-ups, and pods that clone new critters to join you. As you collect new forest dwellers, you control them all at one time as a swarm, and if one touches a power up the entire swarm feels the effect.
Sometimes your critter friends have to die, so don't get too attached.
As you play you quickly discover that you can interact with much of the silhouetted objects in the foreground, with the game offering subtle cues as to where you're supposed to fling your critters. Once you've been run through the basics in the early levels, this is where the puzzles really start to take shape.
You learn that you'll pass each level as long as at least one of your forest dwellers makes it to the end of the level... which means that despite how adorable you may think each one of those little critters is, you shouldn't get attached. Your goal is to guide as many of the clones safely through the level to the warp pipe at the end, but you'll occasionally find puzzles that require some clones to sacrifice themselves so the rest of the group can progress.
There are over 80 levels in the single-player mode, with missions available for each, and if that's all that Badland offered it would already be amazing. But on top of the addictive single-player mode, Badland also boasts impressive multiplayer modes for up to 4 players on the same device. You have the option of playing through the single-player campaign with a friend in Co-Op mode, or you can challenge your friends to see who can survive the longest. While this might get a bit crowded playing around a phone, it plays fantastically on a tablet with each player given a quarter of the screen space to tap for their character.
On top of all that, Badland still delivers more content with a full level editor available for you to design your own devious levels for single player, co-op, and versus modes. Of course, you're also free to check out levels designed by other players, of which there are hundreds to choose from. It all adds up to a really complete game with so much replayability that it still shines brightly as a game worth playing in 2017.