I may make this a new category of review: Games so addictive and interesting I can't stop playing them. And this week's winners are LIMBO ($4.99), and BADLAND (Currently free), two fabulous horizontal-scrolling games I could not seem to stay away from. LIMBO is not just a game, but a true work of art, immersing your adolescent character in a realistic, dark and very scary world (I was flinching and jumping in my seat playing this game). BADLAND offers similarly superb backdrop scenes, but with bouncy, full-tilt maze-style action that is just ridiculous fun. The polar opposite of the foreboding LIMBO, you use BADLAND for a spot of cheer! Uh, you'll need it...
1. LIMBO ($4.99)
LIMBO starts out like a Stanley Kubrick movie with eerily quiet sights and sounds. The crafty camera effects are just a touch off focus and dark at the edges to add a wonderful sense of being in the game. It gives no explanation or scrolling text to give you context of what is going on around you. Few games can pull off this kind of opening, but LIMBO sells it perfectly. Borrowing heavily from frightening but typical movie-like settings, LIMBO masterfully brings you (waking up) to the middle of a dark forest as a little boy, which in itself is scary, but the woods (as you will quickly learn) are chock full of deadly hazards that can and often do kill you in gruesome ways (the game is not for youngsters in my opinion, due to this fact). The scariness includes giant tree spiders that have no compunction about impaling your avatar and tossing him through the air in hideously graphic detail.
Like most platformers, LIMBO is about running, climbing, and jumping. But really, it's much more about cleverly navigating the various traps and using them and the environment to solve the particular conundrum you face in the game. For example: a giant bear trap you will at first stumble into (and that will grossly decapitate you), you can also drag (you will learn via several additional decapitations), along the ground to inflict damage on other enemies, like say, the spiders.
Controls are simple left right swipes to move horizontally and up/down swipes to jump or perform action triggers. The game is easy to control, and the sounds so deep and scary, that I WANTED to quit playing due to fear, but the experience draws you in way too much to stop once you start! You will keep playing even if just to see what the next horror or trap will be. It is a crazy cool game experience that was originally released on Xbox, and now a very good thing for iOS! Looking for something really different from a typical platform game? You simply must grab LIMBO (also an iTunes top pick).
2. BADLAND (Currently free)
Next up is a game called BADLAND, which is bizarre yet fun in a completely different way than LIMBO. Also making use of clever and superb background scrolling graphics, the game puts you in control of a flying, flapping, "whatever you want to call it" animated blob. Taps send it flapping upward like in Tiny Wings or Flap Flap. Doing nothing causes it to fall, of course.
The trick is to tap/fly skillfully enough to keep your blob (or blobs) moving forward through a constantly changing and evolving system of pipes, traps, fans, and other obstacles. Getting trapped, crushed, or smashed by any of the maze objects means the end. There are really ingenious concepts in this game like atypical power-ups that will make your blob multiply, change in size (to a fat blob that potentially can't make it through an opening), or become so small it looks like a mite. The sounds are upbeat ambient jungle sounds (at least in the first several levels I played), and the clunking, pinging, and bonging mazes keep the pace at a high level. BADLANDS uplifts, which you will need after a few hours of LIMBO.
LIMBO and BADLAND are both horizontal gems that deserve the highest iPhone Life rating. Great sounds and spot-on scrolling animations and physics bring to life attractively rendered 2D worlds in both cases. I usually list pros and cons at the the end of my reviews, but to be honest, I could not find any cons and just listed all of the pros. So what are you waiting for...? Grab them in the App Store at the links above!