Balloon in a Wasteland Game

Fly Off With the Balloon in the Wasteland

Shooter-upgrade games are a dime a dozen, and it takes plenty to get us curious about a game in this genre. With that said, Balloon in the Wasteland is an incredibly great title play when you are looking for a quick hour of shooting fun. The game boasts of an impressively stylized visual aesthetic with its dark overtones and monochromatic elements. The controls are easy to grasp, responsive, and fun to play around in. And lastly, the actually gameplay will fill you with so much amusement at shooting down monsters and deciding what to do with the spare time in between.

Middle of Nowhere

The game starts you off on your first day in the middle of nowhere. Your balloon is busted and all you have is a trusty little pistol to keep you safe until you can get the darned thing flying again. If you are wondering what the pistol is good for, you will be using it to take down strange creatures that seem to be after you. The monsters attack in large groups, day and night, so there not really much time for players to wander around. You have to keep the monsters away while getting the balloon back in working order. Fortunately, fixing up your ride is a simple matter of spending as much time as you can with it. Just how long will you take before you can get the balloon all set to go? Or will you be overrun by the hordes of monsters first?

Patience First, Controls Second

The thing about Balloon in the Wasteland is that it requires players to not just enjoy the action, it also involves a little thinking. You cannot expect to get to the very end of the game unless you know what you are doing. You must decide when to fight monsters, when to fix the balloon, when to sleep, when to build a base, or when to heal yourself. Sure, you can choose to do any of these actions at any given time, but unless you do them in a planned order, you can expect to get nowhere far in the game.

The game progresses in this manner: time lapses, and according to the ticker gauge on the bottom of the screen you can expect certain eventualities. These events can be either be a monster wave attack or a shopkeeper coming your way. Monster waves obviously bring enemies to the screen which will try to attack and kill you. The great thing about this is that this is the only part of the game where you can actually earn money to spend on guns and upgrades.

Shopkeeper events provide you with a passing truck that allows you to purchase upgrades depending on the type of shopkeeper coming by. Guns sellers will provide your character with improvements and upgrades for your existing weapons or a completely new firearm to play with. Fort sellers will provide you with a small tower which acts as a safe haven against monsters (sadly, you cannot use the tower as a vantage point to shoot monsters from) as well as upgrades for increasing your balloon repair speed and also for healing your own character. Turret sellers provide the player with three purchasable turrets that are outfitted on the fort (each of the three turrets requires a specific fort upgrade) and will automatically fire on enemies. These make for great support and cover fire against larger groups of enemies. Lastly, the traps seller will provide you with various ground based defenses made for slowing or incapacitating the enemy (such as barricades and explosive mines).

The game works like this: You play these events and every moment in between. During these events, you will either have to fight monsters or transact with the shopkeepers, in between, you must decide whether you would prefer to sleep and regain stamina, build your fort (if you purchased one from the shopkeep), or if you would be focused on fixing the balloon entirely. The game provides players with a handy little speed control tool which allows you to speed up any process -except for monster waves which will require you to fight enemies.

Resource and time management come into play when you see several shopkeeper instances in a row -it is up to the player to determine if the money they currently have should be spend on traps or on turrets (for example), or if they should pass up on the purchase and wait out a few more waves until the next fort or gun shopkeeper comes along. In between, you must choose whether it is to your advantage to sleep (maintaining stamina keeps your performance up) or if you should be fixing up the balloon instead.

Eventually, you will be able to fix your balloon completely and ride it all the way to freedom. And while it is a little anti-climactic since it would have made more sense to hitch a ride with all those shopkeepers, the essence of finishing the game remains the same and is quite fulfilling.

If you think that the fun stops there, think again. The developers behind Balloon in the Wasteland have provided players with a list of 20 various achievements to aim for while playing the game. Some are easy (such as killing your first enemy) while others take a bit of effort to accomplish (such as buying the full fort upgrades, getting the last gun available, escaping on the third day, or by killing off a thousand enemies in a single game). These add a bit of replay value to the game, and considering the fact that there is no save-game system in place, it makes every playthrough experience quite memorable.

Nice Looking Wasteland

Visually, the graphics in this game are quite immersive. You get thrown in right smack in the middle of what seems to be a dead forest with plenty of strange hostile and shadowy creatures hungry for your blood (we will just assume that they are trying to eat our character alive when they attack him). The mostly all-black elements of the game add a sense of comical macabre to senses. Our hero is a gun toting, balloon riding, top hat wearing man with a wiry build and a powerful shooting arm (just look at how he uses those large guns with just one hand). The monsters are large black masses of gooey creepiness that are just begging to be shot up close with a 12 gauge. The result is an insanely addictive gameplay that will have you eagerly blasting away clip after clip at this malevolent little nuances that are after you.

The menus are quite easy to understand, though the achievement screen does get pretty intrusive when it slides in from the right. Also, the pause button is so small that you may easily miss it when fighting a serious battle and you have no time to accurately aim. Aside from these, the rest are easy to use and understand. The icons are also nice to look at, providing the game with a very cohesive look.

The music for the game is also dynamically fun to listen to -it creates this interesting ambiance that feels both disconnected to the game's theme but at the same time, reflective of the bizarreness of the player's situation. The only drawback is the audio for the weapons fire -which seems quite out of place considering the quality of the other sound effects.

The Verdict

Balloon in the Wasteland is not your typical shooter-upgrade game, it provides players with a good challenge and a solid dose of fun. While most hardcore players will breeze through the first playthrough, there are plenty of fun achievements that are worth coming back for. Casual gamers will enjoy this game as it provides them with something challenging to sharpen their fangs with. With its solid controls, fun gameplay, and impressive visuals, this game is easily one of our favorites. We give this game a hot air balloon's 88/100.