Developer: Pixel Heart
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Vanished drops players straight into an unknown realm, leaving them to fend for themselves against a host of evil beings, guided only by the sounds of the world.

Firstly, Vanished did an excellent job of making me feel like my space was being invaded by incorporating all of the sound effects a horror fan could wish for: glass shattering, creepy chanting, doors creaking, demons wailing, and much, much more. It definitely feels authentic, and had me jumping or recoiling in my seat on more than one occasion (Warning: do not play this game in public, one will look mad). Between ‘scenes’ a narrator guides the story along, adding a touch of class and foreboding with his suitably rich, baritone voice. As each level begins it’s suggested that players close their eyes, which is good advice since the frankly ugly game screen is better left unseen. Thankfully, the visuals have almost nothing to do with Vanished.

20130929-165752.jpg 20130929-165724.jpgThe controls are simple: hold the screen to move, rotate or point the device in the desired direction, and shake it to attack. Despite these simple commands, gameplay can often become misguided. In more than one instance I was running around for a couple of minutes with no clue where to go. Turns out I was suppose to be making my way towards a creepy chanting guy. That wouldn’t have been my first instinct, as it sounded more like background noise than anything else. A police siren on the other hand, stood out much better. There either needs to be a clear goal for each level, or a more distinct sound to begin with. Also, while on many occasions I heard myself bypassing by a ghoul or slithering creature by intentionally giving them a wide berth, on others I ending up running into one out of nowhere, losing all of my health in the process. Presumably I was suppose to fight the foul beast, but I had no clue I was actually in a fight to begin with.

Overall, Vanished still manages to create a creepy atmosphere, even if it does occasionally lose direction. With a few tweaks to gameplay, an overhaul of the game screen and menus, and a much more forgiving handling of conflicts it would cement itself as the best horror audio game on the App Store.

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