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Dark Meadow Review

By , on October 6, 2011


Dark Meadow
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5

PROS

  • Luscious visual style; menacing without resorting to gory cliches.
  • Top-notch vocal work; adds life where there is ostensibly none.
  • Interesting approach to 'found' narrative.
  • PRO TIP: Pay attention to what you see on the blackboards - it could be very helpful.

CONS

  • Pacing shot in the foot by constant pauses; movement/post-combat etc.
  • Lengthy random encounters quickly become tiresome.
  • Poor handling of in-game learning; need to access an external website for finer details.

VERDICT

Dark Meadow a gorgeous and at times engaging take on the Infinity Blade style of gameplay, tempting players to delve ever-deeper, but quickly getting stuck in a rut all the same.


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Infinity Blade did something clever when it originally came out - and no I don't mean the graphics or oddly enough the gameplay itself, but rather the way in which it embraced the all too common trope of an amnesiac hero and spun it in to gold. While Dark Meadow by Phosphor Games Studio attempts to capture the engaging spirit of this new breed of RPG, it stumbles in key points, making it hard to truly fall in love with it.

The main character is a mystery - essentially without identity or memory after having woken up in a dilapidated hospital. You're quickly spurred on to wander the corridors of the facility, chasing after a violent spirit guarded by oodles of grim and nightmarish monsters. Should you take the time to explore (and you should), you'll uncover snippets of story as well as the occasional gem to collect (a full set rewards you with a healthy bonus to your stats).

These 'stats' can go a long way to determining your play style when encountering a random wandering monster. Initially fights start out at long-range with the crossbow being the weapon of choice here; headshots do extra damage, but you'll also need to dodge vomited projectiles as well. If the creature survives you'll switch to a melee combat system that keeps things simple, allowing you to dodge out of the way if you can predict a strike or otherwise block them. The game goes out of its way to tell you when the monster is vulnerable, making it easy to learn patterns even when they learn new moves.

Aside from stats that boost your battle prowess, weapons and amulets can provide additional effects such as stacking damage bonuses; damage over time; or a constant aura that burns creatures as long as you're fighting them. Cash earned via combat or in the world itself can be spent on better items, though the occasional item drops from monsters and In App Purchasing can shortcut the process.

All of this is well and good except for two features that work in harmony to completely kill your sense of momentum. Once a monster is dead you're forced to wait for a screen to flash up the experience, cash and items earned without the ability to skip or speed it up; combined with players being forced to respawn in the very first room when they die, this can result in painfully long 'resets' as you trundle slowly back to where you were.

Where Infinity Blade handled this problem by adding new content with each iteration (at least enough to handle a single, full playthrough), Dark Meadow starts to skip a groove early on and what was once a freakish monster becomes an annoying waste of time. The occasional 'special' creature such as the golden 'exp' monster or the speedy 'cash' monster make for a nice reward when exploring, but is too little an offering to offset the oft-repeated battles against a handful of monster types.

Fans of horror titles will dig the atmosphere and attention to detail in not only the gorgeous Unreal engine environments, but also in the story left behind. If you enjoyed Infinity Blade and you're after something to bulk up your repertoire of Action-RPG slashers, you'd do well to check out Dark Meadow, just don't forget to heal up - it's a long walk back to where you were.

Screenshots

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Comments

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AppUnwrapper 2 years, 8 months ago

Great Dark Meadow review! If you'd like to read more about how Dark Meadow compares to Infinity Blade, check out: http://www.appunwrapper.com/2011/11/09/dark-meadow-iphone-game-review/
 
Enjoy :)

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cjohnston 2 years, 9 months ago

lads infinity blade is absoloutly crap

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Cobra007 2 years, 9 months ago

This game had such potential for a great point and click adventure or a horror first person adventure. Instead, they ripped exactly the same gameplay concept from Infinity blade with only 3 kinds of enemies. The only good side of this game are the graphics and the voice acting.
My advice: Wait until it's on discount.