I am what you would call a horror genre fangirl. I wait with baited breath for new installments of Silent Hill (or used to anyway, when Team Silent was at the helm), sucked up every survival horror title that didn't look totally terrible (and a few that did, just for kicks), and and pretty much lived and died by how perfect I could get a photograph score in Fatal Frame. There's something about decaying hospitals and shambling, unidentifiable demons that just appeals to me, I guess. I think what this says about me is that I have a taste for the weird, I may or may not collect strange objet d'art, and that I possibly may have a bonafide future as a crazy cat lady. I hope I'm wrong about the latter.

At any rate, the very first screens of The Dark Meadow [$5.99] had me foaming at the mouth, and rightfully so -- it was a first person perspective exploration game with pieced-together baddies, a super atmospheric setting, and best of all, powered by the rather esteemed Unreal Engine, which is still winning awards to this day. It had all the makings of a truly standout game on the iOS platform, and I wont deny that my hopes were very high for it.

Speaking of atmosphere, when it comes to making the setting appropriately spooky and weird, The Dark Meadow has it down to a fine art. The game itself looks terrific, and the music is dark without being overpowering or ridiculous. You will navigate your way around with simple touch controls and by moving from spot to spot, which foregoes the need for a directional pad. And I truly appreciated how little clutter there was on the screen -- Phosphor Games wanted this to be a clean, immersive experience for the player, and the attention to detail is evident.It's easy to get lost in this world.

As you explore darkened hallways, you'll come across baddies that you'll need to clear out in order to progress. My first few go-rounds with them, I was pretty pleased with the way combat worked. They always appear at a distance, so when you first see them you'll be armed with a crossbow (and later down the line, other weapons will be available.) You'll use your finger to aim and you'll let go when you want to fire, which feels smooth and makes the experience pleasant overall, at least initially.

Once your enemy is really close, you'll switch to melee. The fights are designed so that you can slash with a finger swipe and dodge by tapping an arrow to the right or left. The game is good about telling you when to act, so if you pay attention, you can really get the rhythm of fights down. For instance, after a dodge, if the game prompts you to "attack now!", it's time to get your slashes in, but if not, there's another attack coming, so wait for it. It works a little like a toned down version of Infinity Blade [$5.99], although missing most of the finesse and feeling fairly basic comparatively.

Keep up your fights, and you'll keep gaining experience, and the game makes sure you know it. After each fight the game grinds to a halt, at which point the game tallies your experience while you wait, which not only feels really unnecessary, but also hurts the pacing of the game. When you hit a level, you'll be able to assign experience points how you please. Enough of these and you'll gain new weapons as well, so know that your efforts will be rewarded.

You aren't completely alone on this journey, either. There's an old man you'll meet in the beginning who will communicate with you via radio and give you advice on how to survive in this dark world. His advice can be quite handy (and in addition, it's pretty decently voice-acted, too). In fact, if you die a few times, he will tell you different things, and some of it is pretty hilarious - -bravo for the writer or sticking in bits of tongue-in-cheek humor! You can also find scraps of paper and notes that will shed some light on the world you're in and divulge its backstory. It adds some nice detail, some of which will factor in as you get further into the game.

If The Dark Meadow has any weakness, it's that the fights eventually begin to feel a bit rote, and I found myself wishing creatures would stop popping up so I could just explore my surroundings and progress through the story without hinderances. On the other hand, I'm sure I'd feel the same way if the situation were real, but hey, there's some pains in the ass in every dark and twisted universe, and this is one of them. As long as you don't mind the grindy feel to the combat, then you really shouldn't be bothered by this much.

Overall, The Dark Meadow is a standout in almost every way. From look to setting to the touch-centric gameplay, it shines, and you can tell this title was crafted with much love from its developers. Any horror fan will be thrilled by it, especially if your traditional iPhone fare is stuff like that wretched Silent Hill game [99¢] (even this fangirl couldn't swallow that.) It's quite a bit more expensive than the usual iOS title, and it's worth every bit of the money you'll spend. It doesn't quite hit the note of perfection largely becomes of the combat mechanic, but it edges damn close -- and even at that distance, it's well worth your time and money.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Anonymous

    Considering this takes up 1.1 gb of space and it's not getting a complete 5/5 rating, not to mention the price here, I'm gonna wait and see what Infinity Blade 2 serves up. Might be a better deal to me. Gonna wait and see. 

    • http://www.the-app-shack.com Matt F

      If you like Infinity Blade the combat here wont be

      • http://www.the-app-shack.com Matt F

        a problem for you at all. The Dark Meadow has more exploration and story-telling than both IB combined...

    • Matthew Welch

      My lord, 1.1 GB!  That's like....a fraction of anything you should care about.  And not a 5/5!  Nothing gets a 5/5 these days 'cause reviewers are afraid to give so-called "perfect" scores.  If you never buy anything that doesn't get a perfect score you'll never buy anything period.

  • Anonymous

    Bated breath.

  • http://twitter.com/back2this Sean Yuan

    Now that's a motherf**king review. Good read. Tried out a bit of the game earlier and enjoyed it greatly.

    @back2this:twitter

  • http://twitter.com/Ramminchuck David Kibblewhite

    Son of a bitch I need to come here more often. Forgot this was coming out! Great review Collette!

  • http://twitter.com/Sanuku Sanuku

    I am playing the Game since Hours and can't put my iDevice out of my Hands. So far this Game has fulfilled every of my expectations and I am glad that I did buy it the moment I saw it on the iTunes Store.

    It's a great iOS Game with one of the best Storylines that i have seen so far on the Apple iDevices since i have played the first iOS Game back in 2007.

    I am still wondering why it is sold for only six Dollar because you normally would get those AAA Games at an ten Dollar Pricetag.

    Anyway, get this Game if you wana play a Game that will literally sop you up like a good Book.

  • Anonymous

    oh wow, Colette you sound just like me when it comes to survival horror games. Completely loved Silent Hill, so much rich background story. I think it was after the room where I stopped kinda getting into the games as the stories didn't seem so intuitive (the room sucked as well). But I have tried a few of their other games I just didnt seem able to beat them though cause my interest wasn't caught. Fatal frame games were always fun as well. The siren series was sorta bland to me, but I thought the stories were decent. Resident Evil...is hit or miss to me at times. Seems to much arcade shooter like then a real survival horror most of the times, but I did love dead space games even though it was more action oriented. Hmm...Idk If i can remember any others. But I definately love survival horror <3

    I just thought that was awesome. So I guess I'll check out this game then.

  • Anonymous

    Is this game similar to Dead Space?

  • Chris Forshaw

    I am a horror game nut in general, so I was eagerly looking forward to this.  Unfortunately the limitations of the hardware have made me disappointed in the overall experience.  It feels like a bolt-on to infinity blade.  Movement is extremely restricted and seems a waste of the powerful unreal engine.  Combat is a clunky affair and has no sense of trepidation or urgency, especially as retredding steps often means repeating fights and cheap xp gains.  I was hoping for a superior experience to that which Dementium and its sequel offered on the DS some years ago, unfortunately they are both vastly suoperior and with a follow up coming out on 3DS, I will look forward to that instead.  A shame as with the release of Shadowgun I was hoping more console quality games would arrive, but this is definately a mobile game rather than a console game.  The 3DS and Vita will not lose sleep over this.  A good game, certainly, but just re-tredding the same ground infinity blade did some time ago.

    • Robert Reaser

      Well the IPhone is a mobile gaming device and not a console thanks for pointing out the obvious.

  • Zac Bentz

    Sounds interesting. Colette, could you talk a bit more about the plot? Strange? Scary? Deep? Shallow? Since I couldn't care less about the combat, I'd like to know what kind of story it tells, if any.

    • PJ Moreno

      It's a dark fantasy setting, not horror per se, but about the dark nature of human desire. I haven't invested a lot of time to it, but this game is very history driven, as you try to discover your motives in notes and books scattered in this lonely, crumbling asylum. There is something to discover about your identity and your only link to "sanity?" as you face allegories of adult decadence mixed with childhood innocence.

  • Anonymous

    others have said it but i was thinking the same thing... good review. left in no doubt how the game plays or how the battles work etc. well done.

  • PJ Moreno

    Love the story, ambiance & production values, but I'm struggling to get used to the crossbow controls and gameplay mechanics. Seems to have a lot of depth and backstory to it, lots of little details to discover, the Guillermo Del Toro influence it's all around the game with the monsters design and the dark atmosphere... very different and unexpected, totally worth it's price.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2KPHYY3ZMDAHAUHYAETT53RUHE Benjamin

    anything like amnesia?

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

    I'm quite enjoying this, but it would be a whole lot better without the combat. It just gets in the way and is really repetitive. Had this been a pure Myst style adventure with puzzles, it would have been greatly improved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Quickmix Frank Quickmix Hassas

    I bought it today. I can't stop to play. Great Story + Action & Adventure Parts!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HWFBLUKORPPHWEQXBLSY7OAXZI Sokun Ros

    Great game...But I wish they would somehow include free-roam mode in their future updates.

  • Freddy Saunders

    Completed it now, and gotta say it was a fantastic play ! Well worth the money, can't wait to see what they do next.
    P.s you will all love/hate the ending :P

  • Aswad MN

    i still think Dead Space for ios has the best graphics, best story, best control, and best action.. the top game so far on ios...

  • Kelly Freeman

    No. I have deleted this game after playing for a few hours.
    Reasons:
    1. Battle is slow and boring.
    2. I can't sell my spared items.
    3. I cannot restart immediately if I failed in the battle.
    4. That old guy's voice is very annoying and makes my crazy.
    Except the graphic, this game is nowhere close to infinity blade. Epic fail.

    • Nathan Cook

      Well I think that was rude but hey it's your opinion. Personally I liked the game. It's fun so far.

      • Pedantic Douchebag

        I think you should probably look up the word "rude" in a dictionary before using it again.

Dark Meadow Reviewed by Colette Bennett on . Rating: 4.5