Developer: Chillingo
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

gloomyhollow03There’s always been, and will always be, lots of speculation about what happens when we die. Some believe in reincarnation, others in special places meant to act as a reward or punishment based on a person’s life, and some think it just sort of ends. Gloomy Hollow, on the other hand, is all about the eternal “not quite alive and not quite dead” realm that is Limbo. It’s a cute take on a familiar theme, as well as a familiar genre (i.e. dungeon crawlers), but actually moving around can be a bit difficult.

Rosie, Smith, and Moustache Jim. Each former living person has been trapped in Limbo for as long as anyone can remember, and they can all be controlled as players scour the old-timey Underworld for a bunch of stolen Soul Crystals. Supposedly these crystals can get rid of, or at least calm down, all the monsters that have been making the place a bit more depressing than it ought to be. What this translates to is a “lively” dungeon crawler/loot fest that makes decent use of both the typical virtual stick and buttons control scheme, as well as one built entirely around screen tapping and gestures.

I have to admit I’m a big fan of Gloomy Hollow’s slightly odd twist on Limbo. It’s sort of a combination of the Old West and MediEval, which is about as cool as it sounds. The environments also start to open up a lot as players progress which makes locating the exit, tracking down all the enemies, and finding all five of the scattered souls in a given stage feel a lot more satisfying. And there’s loot. Lots and lots of character-specific loot with plenty of bonus attributes (life leech, attack speed, etc) that can also be upgraded.

gloomyhollow07It’s just a shame that I’ve had to fight the controls so much while trying to enjoy myself. Don’t get me wrong, Gloomy Hollow is a fun dungeon crawler, but neither control option works as well as it should. Tapping to move and target enemies (and pinch or tap with three fingers to activate skills) is clunky at best, while the virtual stick tends to get characters hung up on the environment and the buttons are way too small. Either will still get the job done; just not in an elegant fashion. I also feel like the free-to-play tactic of requiring premium currency to unlock more skill slots is also incredibly out of place in a game that is not, in fact, free-to-play.

Despite the control issues I still enjoy playing Gloomy Hollow quite a bit. It’s a competent dungeon crawler with an interesting theme, lots of loot, and a good stable of playable characters. All stuff which, in my mind, makes up for most of the “getting around” problems.


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