Too much Ready Brek?
With imitation rife on the App Store, it's surprising that the success of Infinity Blade hasn't created a whole line of similarly designed adventures. It would, perhaps, be rude to call Dark Meadow an imitation, but it certainly has many similarities with ChAIR's game.
Dark Meadow is not, however, a fantasy game, it has its feet firmly planted in the horror genre. Finding yourself in an old derelict hospital, you're soon acquainted with an old man who guides you through your first steps and is a constant source of information throughout the game, mostly over the intercom.
Unweaving the mystery of your surroundings and why you are there is a large part of the adventure and the control system works well to provide this. Movement is limited to a 'turn by turn' basis, as in the aforementioned Infinity Blade, and just as with that title, items can be found by looking around and picked up by clicking. Dark Meadow does provide a further element to this, as you pick up odd scraps of paper, diary entries and medical notes which help you to piece together the puzzle.
Things aren't quite as easy as that, though. Every journey through the seemingly endless corridors between rooms will be met with monsters, demons and otherworldly beasts who attack you at a moment's notice. Combat begins with long range attacks from your bow, equipped from the start, and then upgraded throughout the game. Once the enemy is close enough the weapon is exchanged for close combat with a knife, sword or other instrument with which to dispatch the spooky enemies that cross your path. Slashes and pokes form your attacks, with two buttons to dodge during enemy attacks.
Combat can be a little sluggish, especially when the obvious comparisons with the Epic/ChAIR game are made. It's by no means a game breaker, but it's slightly irksome when you realise that defeat means going back to the initial room you started the adventure in. Then there's the spirit girl. You'll spot her ghostly form beckoning you from the beginning of the game and if you're anything like me, you'll follow her out of curiosity. The first time you meet her, you'll be killed pretty quickly. It will take plenty of levelling and subsequent attempts to defeat her and find her secrets.
Going back to your room in the hospital when killed may seem harsh and the attempt to explain the fact that you've woken up again rather than rattled off the mortal coil may be slightly convoluted, but it does lengthen the adventure and you do keep all your stats for the next attempt at unravelling the mysteries of Dark Meadow.
The sound and environment throughout often provide the perfect atmosphere to invoke shivers down your spine. Use of the Unreal Engine is certainly justified by the atmosphere it manages to create. The old man's ramblings are spot on and while some help you discover more about the story, others provide the odd chuckle or strange aside. Graphically, the game is a beauty, especially on iPad where you can fully take in the details of your surroundings. Enemies are well designed and the spirit girl is perfectly ethereal. This is certainly a game that will impress anyone watching over your shoulder (or from behind a pillow).
Despite the odd control issue and a slight case of repetition, Dark Meadow is a fantastic horror mystery that straddles point-and-click adventures and the combat style Role Playing dynamics of Infinity Blade. If you're a Horror fan with an iPad or iPhone then you should sign up for your stay in the Dark Meadow hospital straight away.
- Sound: 10
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 9
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