A little boy enters limbo to save his lost, baby sister. An alien has crash landed on a strange world and has to clone himself in order to survive. These may sound like odd circumstances, but Limbo(developer: PlayDead Games) and Badland (developer: Frogmind) are two games that you NEED to play.
I have always been a fan of simple design. Websites, buildings, documents, appliances - if the designer can take something that is complex and make it simple, yeah, they’ve got my attention (and money). So when I first saw each of these games, I knew that the complex had been made simple in all the right ways.
Both have been out for some time now, but thanks to recent updates to Badland and the recent conversion of Limbo from it’s PC version to iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), they are both featured on the Apple App Store as “New and Noteworthy”. Come to think of it, Limbo is the current “Editor’s Choice” and Badland, when it was released a few weeks back, was also the “Editor’s Choice” on the App Store.
Curious yet? Well, there’s more.
With any worthwhile game, there is usually an emotional connection. Someone is dying of something and can only be saved with an antidote that you eventually deliver to them, someone needs to be rescued that only you can do - these are simple examples, but if you feel the need to fight the forces of evil (with whatever form it takes), then you will play that game until your eyes and fingers hurt (and beyond).
Both Limbo and Badland are two-dimensional sidescrollers that have rather intricate backgrounds that will almost distract you from how beautiful they are. But even with the amount of detail that each of the developers for these games put into the backgrounds, what happens in the foreground is all the more enticing.
In Limbo, you play as a young boy who wakes up in a land that is both dark and yet, I’ll admit, calming. But with very few exceptions, the type of ‘calming’ that I’m talking about is like that quiet moment before a freight train comes out of nowhere and...you get the point.
With the boy that you play as, other than his completely black figure, the only emotional aspect to him is seen through his completely white eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, between the creatures, other people and various puzzles that you have to solve in order to avoid dying in not nice ways (hint: decapitation is involved), there is definitely an emotional draw to the game. There is always the challenge and drive you have to eventually reach your little sister so that you can rescue her from her descent into Limbo. And because of that, Limbo is worth the challenge.
The flipside to Limbo is Badland; with it’s lush backgrounds, plethora of ambient noise and puzzles that you must solved in order to get to the end of each level. It is different in how you must clone, shrink, enlarge and spin through the various challenges that are presented to find the end of the level. But when it comes right down to it, Limbo and Badland really aren’t that different.
What’s ironic with the similarity to Limbo is that, with very minor details to the character, the alien that you play as in the game is also a primarily black figure with straight, white eyes - which is where the emotion is shown with the character; especially right before the alien dies.
Puzzles in this game need to be solved a lot faster than with Limbo because even though it’s a 2-D sidescroller, the scrolling is always moving. Hence, if you get caught up trying to solve a puzzle, it’s game over.
So which do I recommend to you? That’s simple: both. Neither is that expensive, and both are worth a few minutes of play at a time while you wait in line at the store or relax at home or at the coffee shop because they not only send you on a journey, they also present puzzles that will test your patience and push you to the limits of problem solving fun.
Badland can be downloaded for your iOS device here, and Limbo can be downloaded here.
I hope you enjoy these games as much as I do.
Thanks for reading.