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Badland GOTY Review

Dear little Badland creature,

Do not follow the commands of the controller, for this way is death. So is that way. Probably that way too. Your world is too cruel for motion, yet too beautiful not to see.

The sky hates you. Plants hate you. Saws hate you. And evolution? It's trying to eliminate your fluffy, winged existence as a species, so nature must hate you as well. While you are a durable, bouncy, and seemingly affable being, your life is short. You have an unorthodox death wish for survival. How contradictory. Hundreds of your kind are mercilessly slaughtered in an effort to – what – migrate? Escape? It is never made clear.

Something, though, is behind you. Your eyes grow wide in fear as the screen's image finder loses sight, so you must understand death, or instinct is activating your brain to signal that finality is coming. What fear you must feel – either risk bouncing dangerously between industrial age machinery or be consumed by unrelenting darkness. Stop. Die. Reset. Go. This is the only pattern you know.

Was it humankind who did this to your alien environment? The other organisms look on in fright, as if naturally spooked by the intrusion of loud, clanging metal, much like a puppy scattering at the sound of fireworks. They do seem curious, mesmerized, but also terrified so they won't intrude on your journey. Someday they will be brave enough to find an exit. For now though it is just you and hundreds of others who may be caught in the whims of a possible migration. Most of your friends will soon be dead too, probably in seconds. They share the same enemies, natural or otherwise.

Maybe you're food. The carcasses which have been squished, splattered, and squeezed into near nothingness must remain. That could be why the background onlookers are so focused; you represent the last of their nourishment scattered about on a dying forest floor. The scenery must be a grotesque vision of bones and blood. Mercifully, only silhouettes can be seen from this side.

Each new stanza you encounter brings new feelings. The sun rises and the sun fades. Your determination does not – it's part of what you are. You are going somewhere, searching for something. There must be a cause. These Badlands are so vile, the end goal must be extraordinary. Is it instinct? It must be instinct. No other reason makes sense.

Know that when you perish, whether it be by saw, spike, rock, or piston, more of your kind will take over. This is a repetitious inevitability. Try and repeat. No other known species has such cushion after death. Clearly, you're special, and so is your world.

But, what if? What if all of the opposite is true? Could it be that you, little being, are in fact a harbinger of suffering? It is assumed you are a flighty hero, zipping through rooms of organic and inorganic puzzles. They appear to be part of an almost impenetrable defense and you their invincible, determined foe.

Badland is purposefully ambiguous. What if you're coming for us out of revenge for decimating your home with gears, oil, and pollution? The mere thought is terrifying. Chances are, you'd win, and our final naive thoughts will be of excitedly seeing you glance off walls, break sticks, and navigate cautiously in-between spinning blades.

So please, don't follow the controller commands. This was all a mistake. The Badlands are only filled with regret.  

Bottom Line

The sky hates you. Plants hate you. Saws hate you. And evolution? It's trying to eliminate your fluffy, winged existence as a species, and yet, it's quite enjoyable.

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