I’m not sure who started the whole black foreground with single-coloured background thing ("silhouette graphics” being the technical term, I believe), but they have a lot to answer for: Totem Runner, Limbo, BADLAND, Miseria…
Dark Lands is the latest game to adopt said style, and while I didn’t much like it at first, it’s kinda growing on me.
Yeah, after my first 5-10 minutes with Dark Lands I was thinking: ‘I cannot wait to put this down,’ but a couple of hours later I was like: ‘Hmm, this is ok. Ish.’
In Dark Lands, the unnamed protagonist runs automatically from left to right, and the touch controls invite you to do three things: attack (with a tap), jump (with an upward swipe) and block/stop (hold two fingers on the screen at once).
There are two game modes, namely Survival and Adventure, the former essentially being an endless runner while the latter is split into 40 A-to-B levels.
In either case you have missions (run X metres, kill Y baddies, finish a level with Z% health…), and you’ll occasionally encounter over-the-top bosses in addition to the horde of minions scattered around.
There’s also the obligatory currency, crystals here, with which you can upgrade your guy’s stats (Health, Damage, Agility) and the potency of power-ups including - you guessed it - A MAGNET.
And that’s Dark Lands in a nutshell. Pros and Cons? After the screenshot, Jeeves.
One of my main gripes with Dark Lands, initially, was the difficulty, but I realised that when you mess up, it’s mostly – not always – but mostly your own fault. It’s possible to kill most things without getting hit (in theory), but there are a few blind jumps, and some of the traps (arrows, swinging logs, etc.) are pretty unforgiving.
But that’s ok; I like a good challenge, and I suspect Dark Lands wants to be the Dark Souls of endless running. Fair enough.
Other things to like about Dark Lands include the multitude of enemies (each with a unique attack pattern), different coloured backgrounds, and occasionally hilarious ragdoll physics that can see our protagonist launched limply through the air.
On the poop side, it seems like Dark Lands was perhaps intended to be a freemium game, as progress (in terms of upgrades) is incredibly slow, with in-app purchases (IAPs) at £1.99, £2.99 and £6.99.
Normally I’d be ok with that, but Dark Lands costs £1.99 on the App Store, so the brutal grind and slooooow sense of progress feels just a tad unfair here. Oddly, Dark Lands is free on Google Play. Hmm.
Bit of a strange one, all in all, but it’s a vague thumbs up for Dark Lands.
- I grew to like the difficulty
- Loads of different enemies
- Two game modes
- Really slow sense of progress
- IAPs in a £1.99 game
- Completely unforgiving at times
Summary: Dark Lands is an interesting endless runner type game, and while it clearly prides itself on being difficult, the slow sense of progress and presence of IAPs threaten to ruin an otherwise perversely enjoyable experience.
iOS compatibility: Requires iOS 5.1.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Android requirements: Gingerbread 2.3.3 and up.