Headland is developed by Danish company, Northplay which is surprising to me, because I got this idea that good games do not come from Denmark. Well, times change, and considering the low price of the full game, this is actually not a bad game.
Yes, the developers are on to something, and yes it is great there are no micro-transactions and no pay-to-play, which seems to be ruining mobile gaming for everyone these days. However, the game does have some minor issues, mainly around the controls causing your character to face the wrong direction when attacking monsters.
Since this game does not include pay-to-win, I really hate to criticize it; but the fact of the matter is that the issues with the controls are just too disrupting. It makes it difficult to hit what you want to hit, and you constantly die because the controls are so handicapped and there is no way to heal but pick up hearts on the map. Note that the friendly robot that you follow around will also drop hearts — I did not realize that until close to the end of the game.
With that out of the way, I do like the concept, and the graphics are cute.
The ability to upgrade your weapons is the best feature of the game. As you fight your way through Headland, you will gather resources that you can use to upgrade your weapons. Unfortunately, you max-out the upgrades rather quickly, and then you are left with buying useless "decorations" with robot code disks; in some places, these do seem to serve a small purpose, like moving the game forward, but in terms of end-game content they serve as mere useless eye-candy.
It also seems like weapons is the only thing you can upgrade, which is sort of strange. Would it really have taken that much extra time to introduce armor to the game? It sure would help mitigate the negative impression from the handicapped controls.
The shield would be an obvious thing to allow upgrading since it is rather clumsily implemented. After building up enough blobs to activate the shield, you only got a short time to do so before the blobs disappear — just a tiny annoyance. It would be obvious to extend this, and even extend the amount of time the shield stays up once activated.
The controls are handicapped
Some of the enemies, like the wasp thingies, behave so erratic that it makes it hard to hit them. I constantly got in situations where my character would accidentally hit in the opposite direction that I was tapping. Not sure what the developers are trying to accomplish; if they are trying to mix-in an element of skill without providing proper controls, or if this is just a accidental flaw in the game? You can even tap directly on the enemies, and still end up facing the wrong direction. This significantly disrupts the experience for me.
Maybe this would be less disrupting if there actually had been a decent way to heal? Diablo had potions and spells. That worked well.
Activating the shield is also very hard — I often got myself killed while trying to activate my shield. To make the best of the shield, it should be activated before engaging. It would be easier if there was a button to do it.
What makes it worse is that — at least from a developers perspective — this problem should be relatively easy to fix. The problem happens because you must move in the direction you want to hit, and then stop precisely in front of what you want to hit. So this probably would not take longer than a few minutes to fix by creating a function that turned around your character in the direction you tapped with your finger.
Even PC games automatically turns your character, and the controls are much, much better on a PC.
The game is short
The game is very short. It felt like the game was over before I really got into it. Maybe I spend just a few hours over a couple of days to complete the game. At this point I could of course continue to gather "robot code" , and build all the decorations, but what would be the point in doing that? It would have been more fun if the game had more weapon and armor upgrades.
Graphics are okay though, so maybe someone will enjoy this more than I did. In total I think I build 3 decorations, and stopped after realizing they did not have any effect on the gameplay.
Bugs in the game
Almost all games has minor bugs, and they will often be fixed with patches. No surprise.
Besides the weird controls, I have only found one bug in this game. Basically, I fell through the ground and got stuck, and had to go back to the robot raft. Even got a screenshot of it:
Mobile gaming has potential
I have never really been much interested in mobile games, but I think if you smooth out the issues and include some more content, then you could potentially have a game with much higher replay value.
What I find strange is that the developers mentioned they were inspired by games like Diablo, but they have not really included any of the same elements in the game; except for maybe the hack-and-slash aspect. I would have liked to see more ways to make your character stronger — maybe some item drops — at least they could had allowed upgrades to continue after finishing the game.
The thing that made Diablo so fun to play, was that you could continue to improve your character after completing the game. The items system in Diablo is a fantastic addition to the leveling system.