Badland Indie has managed to craft two games thus far and both of them are of the puzzle genre. Awe is the less expensive product that manages to be quite entertaining for the one euro (0,49 euro during the Christmas sale) it asks of you but it does feel incomplete. When you are launching any game you expect to have some introduction before you get started, a tutorial to lead you into the complex gameplay. Awe is hard to understand at first. Even the starting menu can make you wonder what to press in order to begin playing. I mistook the exit button for a start one because it was the first thing I saw appearing on the screen. Yes, I guess the door icon should be enough to let you know that it will close the game but I have never seen before now, another game that brings up the quit button before anything else. It's is a design choice that just makes you keep on wondering why it was done in that particular way. It baffles the mind to be frank. Once you have fought your way through the main menu, three planets will be presented. Two of them have their own names- Halloween and Christmas, the third one should be available for you to name even if I haven't been able to do so. I tried clicking on the unnamed planet, typed a couple of letters on the keyboard but nothing changed, because of that I have to believe that something isn't working right. It has to be a bug and I am not aware of the developers have been alerted to it and plan on fixing it soon.
Rest and Relax
Although the description would leave you to believe that Awe is a serious puzzler, that is far from the truth. Yes, it might take you a couple of minutes to figure out exactly what to do in order to advance to the next level but after you have gained the needed knowledge, things are pretty easy. I can't call this game a true puzzle experience because I am in deep belief it never aimed to be that. If you listen closely to the music even in the start menu then it's a quick realization that this product tries to relax you. Awe is meant to be played after a very hard day where you feel that the world isn't in sync with you. To be very correct, it is more like a therapy session than a game. The gameplay is awfully simple and the art is made in such a way that it can't cause frustration in anybody. Even if you have a harder time then I did playing this wonderful casual puzzle, it won't anger you like many other puzzle games do. When you combine the exquisite sound coming from the musical tracks and the easy to enjoy gameplay, the game does give you this feeling of tranquillity. It does try to put you in a trance and you might be more interested in relaxing to the music rather then trying to play the game.
Spheres that are suppose to represent planets are you challenge in Awe. The oval objects are covered in hexagons where different items can be placed. Awe really misses the point when it comes to creating a world, the game is simply not that advanced in that direction. The objects you can place in these hexagons are connected to the theme of the planets. On the Halloween planets you get to choose between pumpkins, scary Halloween trees and coffins from which zombie hands reach upwards while on the Christmas ones- shooting stars, reindeer and others. So what exactly are the puzzles? They consist of pressing the right color on the planet but you have to follow a specific model. Things start with two base colors (on lower difficulty/starting planets) and reach three colors (for higher difficulty planets) from which you can solve the very first puzzle sequence. After that happens, an object will unlock for you to plant on the sphere. Once you do that, another color will be unlocked so you can continue solving the puzzles. That keeps on going for five different items and after you have collected them all, things come to an end.
There is a catch in all this. On the left part of the screen there is an Awe meter which shows how much points you have collected so far, in order to plant an object on a sphere- a certain amount of awe is required. What I found out was that it didn't matter much if you tried solving the puzzles right, you will still get awe after clicking on the planets' hexagons a couple of times. If you want to gather a bigger amount of point quickly there is a way to do it. You have to follow the sequence on top of your screen and you will receive a couple of points at once. From what I was able to figure out, the base objects are worth ten awe while the special last object on each level is worth a hundred and that becomes a problem. What is most interesting about this game is that it actually features a lot of achievements. I was pleasantly surprised by this. While some are very easy to complete because they require you having unlocked a certain amount of objects, others will want you to become a certain level and in Awe that doesn't happen very fast so you will have to spend some serious time with the game. I certainly got bored with it after a good three hours. I was feeling like it had showed me everything it could offer for the 300 megabytes it is.
Meant to be a relaxing experience
Easy puzzle solving
Lack of a tutorial
Lack of planet variety