Headland is an action-adventure from developer Northplay. The team spent quite a few years working on the game, aiming to create an action-adventure title that felt at home on mobile. To see whether or not they achieved this, wen handed the game over to some members of our App Army community.

Here’s what they had to say:

Oksana Ryan

This is a very colourful and fun game to play. It has all the things that are expected of an adventure game. There is a clear goal – find the lost parts from the imagination core of the hero’s robot friend. Collect keys, wood, gems, etc. to buy upgrades, fight enemies and journey around a beautiful world. It all has the makings of a brilliant game and for the most part, it is. However, there were two things that distracted me from the gameplay.

The first was the fact that the characters had a strange gurgle instead of actually talking. There were subtitles but it would have been nice to have proper voices too. The second and most important were the controls, which were very unpredictable and, on occasions, made it difficult to move around when battling enemies. Getting past the faults though, it’s a good game but it needs to be tweaked.

Jt Hernandez

Overhead one-handed action adventure with some cool colourful, cartoony, and kind-of-but-not-quite-trippy graphics and a decent story. You play a sword-wielding adventurer, fighting dogs and acorns while trying to restore imagination crystals to your dream robots. 7 weapons to choose from, each of which can get upgraded 5 times by collecting sticks and rocks and coins. If you have access resources, you can also use those to buy some ship decorations.

The gameplay is on about 10 different map levels, plus 3 gates (where you can earn new weapons and farm upgrade resources), and the final boss level, and most of those have secret areas to find. It’s designed to be a one-handed control, where you drag your finger around to move, tap to swing, hold to activate a shield, and (on some weapons) swipe for a charged attack. I hope that the developer takes some time to improve this because it is currently the biggest downfall. Getting the character to move the direction you want isn’t really reliable. Holding to activate the shield practically hit-or-miss (in other words, you’ll probably get hit).

If the dev added some configurable control choices, it would be a huge improvement. Luckily the game is very forgiving about death. After losing your 5 hearts, you get resurrected at your last save point with your hearts (and your enemies life) refreshed, only having lost some upgrade resources. Besides the controls, the second most frustrating part is that you can sometimes get trapped in the landscape. If you fall behind a tree or if a building pops up around you, you’ll be trapped and have to quit the level and start over. I like the game and recommend it despite its shortfalls. I’m close to finishing it, but it doesn’t seem too high of a replay value. In any case, I do hope the dev make some improvements in controls and eliminates trap spots.

Naail Zahid

After playing through more of the game, I’ll admit the devs put a lot of heart into the game, and the story is charming. But omg the controls! They say a game is made or broken by its controls and now I know what “they mean”, this game suffers a lot from the janky controls and the fact that we can’t adjust it makes it all the worse. Often times I’ve died because the enemies gang up on me and my character is neither moving the way I want nor attacking the enemies I’m aiming at. And that makes it more frustrating than it should be.

I’d love it if they had controller support or some way to adjust the jerky movement of the character, but there’s no option and the game is dragged down by this fault alone. Sadly, the controls made me sour on the game and I’m not really keen on giving myself a migraine playing any more of this goofy game. Perhaps others will be less critical of the game and actually enjoy it a lot. But for me, it’s a big no.

Michael Purdy

This is a simple adventure game that feels like a top town Zelda. Touch movement works pretty well. It’s very responsive. Combat, on the other hand, I find awkward and frustrating. Everything feels imprecise. Graphics are simple but appealing. Reminds me of classic SNES games like zombies ate my neighbours despite the 3D graphics style. the story is simple and didn’t grab me. Still an enjoyable game that doesn’t quite meet its potential.

Armaan Modi

I was excited to see this game since it was a colourful, nice looking game without pixel art; since I’m always looking for a game like this. Headland is a fantasy adventure game with cute and funny characters in a colourful world. The graphics are nice and seem well made. I liked the game overall since the gameplay was fairly quick-paced and the robot in the game helped me along the way. The language in-game is simple and there’s no deep, complex story here, which is great and the game is in portrait orientation, which I appreciate. It is fun trying to navigate and collect resources while fighting off enemies.

The cons are that there is no Google Play games support (no achievements etc).Other issues – character looks blurry while running, can’t see the character while he is standing among enemies, not clear how to activate a shield, why and when certain things happened, like groggy head, social icons are low resolution(UI). I’m hopeful that these will be fixed in future updates. I do recommend the game, although the price is high for a 5-6 hour game and most people won’t be okay with that so I don’t recommend this at full price.

Adam Rowe

I was excited to try this game and initially put off by the controls. Like others have said I couldn’t figure out the shield activation at first and kept getting killed. I eventually figured it out and have really enjoyed it since.
The game is colourful, lightly strategic in the need to kite large groups of enemies while dashing in to attack and retreating to reposition, and has a number of unlockable and upgradeable weapons.

I also love the fact that there are no IAPs beyond the one payment for the full game and the fact that the game has a clearly defined end. I’m a parent of two young kids and having a game I can finish in a reasonable timeframe is a real plus for me at this stage.

Speaking of kids: I have been playing it with my 3.5-year-old son and we are loving playing through it together. He runs around the house afterwards yelling, “I’m getting this sword now. I’m putting it down and getting this one!!” It is a ton of fun in that context. If you are spending the holidays with young kids in any context this is a really fun game to play together!

Mike Lisagor

I was really looking forward to Headland. I love adventure games and platformers, so this looked right up my ally. The graphics are okay and the sound effects are adequate. The one-handed controls are okay on a phone but definitely a bad idea on an iPad. There are moments of lag as well that prove frustrating. I’m not sure why the developers went with this control scheme. There are so many games that have figured out how to do touch screen controls, why try to reinvent the wheel?!?

The map gets a bit confusing too, I often found myself going in circles. I believe this has to do with the objectives not being well laid out. There is a lot of potential here but the execution fails. This is not a $5.99 game at this point. Several of these things can be fixed but it would have been nice to have these things at launch. I still will go back to this hoping to overcome these issues. I like the effort that was put in.

Matt ARen

Headland is a top-down action-adventure game that appears to be set in the imagination of the main character. Pale villains steal the colours of your imaginary robot friend, robbing him of his imaginative powers. It’s up to you to traverse this land and reclaim the shards.

The music is pleasant but forgettable. The tracks make sense for setting and action but make little impact. Some of the sound effects are very pleasing, and I especially like the sound made when traversing the imagination portals. Whimsical set pieces like giant chairs dot the landscape in vivid colours. These are contrasted by the arrival of the pale villains that literally steal colour from the world. The game is just pleasing to view, and animated smoothly on my iPhone XR.

A top-down experience that is reminiscent of old Zelda titles. I especially like the resource collection elements to upgrade the various weapons, and the ability to choose a weapon that fits your play style. Headland’s downfall is unfortunately control issues. Targeting enemies and making precision moves becomes extremely difficult as the game’s difficulty increases. Also, I’m still not really sure how the shield works, and just kind of disregarded it as a playable option.

I have to admit, I was concerned when Headland opened with the developer’s message about pouring their hearts into the game. I do believe they tried, but some serious technical aspects came up very short. It could be a great game with a tighter control scheme.

Roman Valerio

At times it just happens so that no matter how much heart, soul, time and efforts you pour into your brainchild, you still come up short. At least this is the way I see it, because although Headland might have a lot of potential, for me it has left much to be desired. The gameplay and story did not impress me much, the graphics look very poor on my archaic iPad Air and the game lags a bit, especially during combat sections. You can control your character with just one finger, but on a bigger iPad screen, I found it not really comfortable.

Headland seriously pales in comparison with Oceanhorn, which is undoubtedly the staple of the action-adventure genre on mobile. The world and the characters that populate it look rather simplistic and after half an hour of wandering and slashing enemies I grew somewhat reluctant to explore it any further. The best part of creative work is that you can do much better next time considering you are willing to learn from your mistakes and try something new.

Mark Abukoff

When I first got a look at the trailer for this game, I was pretty excited to try it. The colourful backgrounds. The simple hack and slash. The funny-looking characters. The interesting looking world. It could add up to a fun little rpg. But the controls kill it. They aren’t always responsive. The shield is a good idea that I had too much trouble activating that got me killed. It all comes down to the controls that are unreliable and kill the experience. An update could fix this, but quite honestly if I’d paid for this I’d be pretty unhappy right now.

Paul Manchester

A well presented and colourful light action RPG starts to tick the boxes. Unfortunately, the swipe and press controls just annoyed me no end, as it lacks any kind of precision. Not too bad during the early stages where the game is fairly forgiving, but a real pain later on. I do find with this type of control mechanics I get a kind of dry finger which then just ends up stiffly squeaking around the screen. Change the control scheme and I might dive back in. If not there’s not enough new on show here to stick around for.

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