App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Phosphor Games has just mentioned that a series of updates should be coming out "in the very near future." These will include bonus features and tweaks such as an increased level cap (from 40 to 50), a lower spawn rate for Montclair's unsavory denizens, the addition of multiple save slots and a New Game+. In addition, the game will be on sale for $2.99 (half off!) from now until the end of Halloween.
I'm trapped. I woke up to find myself stuck in some sort of abandoned hospital with no idea of how I got there and even less of an idea as to who I actually am. The possibly crazy old man who's been talking to me over the intercom seems to know a bit more about what's going on, but his answers are vague at best. But it gets worse. The old man and I aren't alone. There's a menagerie of horribly twisted monsters roaming the halls, and they're just as friendly as they look. Which is to say not at all. Then there's her.
And thus begins the journey through Dark Meadow. Or rather, through Montclair Hospital. A journey filled with dark mysteries, even darker monstrosities, first-person gesture-based combat against those monstrosities, new gear to find or purchase and plenty of scouring for items and money. It's unfortunate to think that a few people might play this and think of it as nothing more than an Infinity Blade knockoff, but it does follow the gameplay formula extremely closely. In fact, with the exception of sporting fewer equipment classifications (no helmets or shields, for example), no magic spells or special attacks, no parrying, no item leveling (the main character still gains experience, though) and the addition of a crossbow, they're mechanically identical. Oh, and monster encounters are random and they'll start towards the end of the hallway so there's time to try and pick them down while dodging their demon loogies before they get within striking distance.
These similarities help make Dark Meadow great, certainly, but it's a fantastic game on its own merits. It's sporting the Unreal Engine, but that wouldn't mean squat if the creature designs and atmosphere of Montclair weren't so well realized. Exploration is on-rails, but it's on an intricate system of two-way crisscrossing tracks as opposed to a one-way trip with a few forks along the path. But above all else, credit goes to the script. The old man's monologues are all intriguing, and his delivery is amazing. This just might be the best voice acting/script I've encountered in an iOS game.
Some might bemoan the lack of a map to aid in navigation, but Montclair isn't really big enough to get lost in. Likewise, searching every nook and cranny for money can be a grind, but it's not really an essential activity. Even starting back in the first room once the game is turned off can be easily overlooked because all items, money and experience is retained. It actually makes what little grind there is easier.
I don't consider Dark Meadow a "copy" so much as a new entry in a young genre. A genre that it fits very, very well. Fans of gesture hack-n-slashers, gothic thrillers or both are in for a real treat.