The Games We Play (lyrics)

The morning star is rising again
Reborn out of a candle flame
It is but just a silly game we play

Seconds chasing one another
The time draws near but scarce few bother
It is but all these silly games we play

The honey tongue spins sweet little lies
Rumpelstiltskin in disguise
It is but all these silly games we play

Pawn and bishop play as equal
The golden yarn shines lustrous to all
It is but just a silly game we play

From Voxel EP.

All Tomorrows (lyrics)

Jenny’s got a brand new song
It keeps on playing in her head

I guess she liked it first
But now she’s hoping that the song would go away

It’s always so easy to crave
All tomorrows that will save
From the silence that life still
Feels like today

The thing is that no matter what she does
The song sits stuck tight in her head

It’s numbing repetition makes her think
It’s like these days, their all the same

She walked into the diner
Humming to the song and missed a change

The world slipped for a moment further from her
Gave the change the space to grow

It’s always so easy…

Now Jenny sees the change she’s brought about
By humming to that sticky tune

The contrasts have grown deeper
Sunlight scatters in a new, peculiar way

She looks out of the window
At the people hurrying down the street

And no one stops to note her Mona Lisa smile
She knows how they must feel

It’s always so easy…

The Morning (lyrics)

The children play the games they play
The schoolyard’s empty
The morning’s on the way

It looks as if
The world will split
And they’ll get caught in the thick of it

They knew this day would come their way
They failed to hold
The rats at bay

The schools are empty
The children play
Their parents worry
Their parents pray

I’m not yet ready to go
I’m not ready to go
I’m still new

“This is the end, my only friend”
The final broadcast
There’s nothing to append

It’s come this way
This is the day
The morning sun sends the night away

A silent whistle
A rising sound
The huddling folk
The first inbound

The schools are empty
The children play
Their parents worry
Their parents pray

I’m not yet ready to go
I’m not ready to go
I’m still new

Badland is All Kinds of Awesome

You seldom come across something so inspired to haunt you day in, day out. Badland is one of such things. An iOS game that manages to combine a great deal of gaming tropes into a package that is at the same time hauntingly familiar and completely original.

In Badland, you guide a bizarre afro hairdo (or an owl?) through a selection of weird landscapes loaded with circular saws, explosives, strange sticky goo and other dangers that you must steer your protagonist clear of. The gameplay is simple: by tapping the screen you can make your little ball of fur fly or roll through surfaces. That’s about it. The game is loaded with various hazards and power-ups, the favorite of mine being the squaring teleports that somehow remind me of a classic Carl Barks Donald Duck tale.

The game combines, by intention or not, elements from such awesome predecessors as Contre Jour, World of Goo and Portal, managing to create at least as enchanting a gaming experience, if not even better. You feel for your little afro hairdo just as you do for your little balls of goo. The design aesthetic is reminiscent not only of Portal, but also somehow of other Valve titles such as the first Half-Life. And the squishy poison bushes, as well as the black-and-whitish color scheme bring to mind the outstanding moodiness of Contre Jour.

But while influences can be singled out, the game plays out as something completely original. A cross between a platformer and an infinite runner, the gameplay is fluid and enticing, yet challenging enough to keep things interesting. Some of the puzzles are really troublesome at first, but then produce that delightful heureka insight once you figure out some new element in the environment to tap into. In fact, I think Badland is flow-wise the best balanced game I have played since Psychonauts.

Badland is a game that I would recommend to anybody keen on the titles referenced above; to anybody tapping into tablet gaming for the first time; to anybody looking for moody, deep and challenging casual gaming (almost a paradox, yes, but they nailed it here); I guess to anybody, period.

This is a truly inspired game that has the feel of being produced by a big studio, and yet is the work of a Finnish duo, augmented with an outstanding sound designer. The international media has been wondering what they feed the Finnish game-makers to produce such outstanding titles. I am starting to wonder too.

Check out the game here.