One day, when you’re older, you might think it’d be nice to retire to a small, sleepy town, and live out the remainder of your life happy, surrounded by the rustling of trees and the rushing of water.

Or, evil things will happen and you’ll wind up going crazy and then committing suicide, which is apparently what’s happened to the majority of the residents in Indigo Lake [$1.99], a superb first-person survival horror game by ThreeCubes.

It starts off simply enough, you sitting on a boat in the middle of a lake. Upon picking up your first item, which serves as an introduction to why you’re here and some slight back story, the boat pulls alongside a dock, and your adventure begins.

One of the first things you’ll notice, despite the small size of the download, are the graphics. They are terrific, and really draws you into the creepy atmosphere surrounding everything. Leaves fall downward, trees rustle, buildings and environments are very well detailed. Lighting effects are great, which you’ll get to enjoy throughout the course of the game, thanks to your ever trusty flashlight.

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Sound design is just as detailed as the graphics, helping to draw you in further. From ambient noises to shuffling noises, to the spectral noises to the odd cry of a baby that seems to pursue you now and then, you’ll really feel like you’re here in this town, wondering what has happened. There is limited voice acting throughout, which is a good thing; it sounds kind of forced and isn’t all that good.

Within the first minute of docking, you’ll come across a jeep, which is yours for the taking, and you’ll soon find out why Indigo Lake is very open-ended and free roaming. You can drive pretty much everywhere, and while the game world does have boundaries, they’re not obvious, and fit in well. For example, instead of coming to an open field and just not being able to traverse further, you’ll come to a mountain range that extends over the lake; clearly, you can’t cross this.

As you wander around, you’ll come across various story notes which help to explain things, as well as some scary set pieces. I can’t give examples without spoiling parts of the game, but rest assured there are some scary scenes throughout. The game definitely lives up to its psychological horror description.

There are puzzles to solve during your exploration as well. Some of them are challenging, but none of them require you to search for a walkthrough or guide. You have an objectives screen, but it isn't very detailed, which is a good and bad thing; good because it leaves it up to you to figure out where to go and what to do, but bad because the next subsequent action isn't always obvious. Some of the puzzles require some backtracking, which again might not always be what your first instinct might be.

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Indigo Lake uses a basic first-person control system, where the left side of the screen controls movement, and right side controls direction. Tapping the center of the screen interacts with the world, while tapping elsewhere will fire your tracer gun. I found that hit detection was off somewhat, both with shooting enemies and using objects. For example, tapping directly in the brackets of a key wouldn't always register me picking it up. You also need to manually save your game, as there are no checkpoints.

The game initially starts off with a fetch quest, but about thirty minutes into it, things change, and it really comes into its own. You’ll be fighting creepy figures, seeing things, and generally having your sanity slowly stripped away. For me, the creepy game world and story elements were much more fun than the combat.

To access the in-game menu, you tilt your device to the right. To access your objectives, you tilt to the left. This gestured way of accessing menus is either a love it or hate it kind of system. It may be annoying to tilt your device as opposed to tapping an icon, but by keeping the HUD fairly clean, it more immerses you into the world.

Through the menu screen, you can enable recording of your game, which is pretty cool. Perhaps you came across a unique moment you want to share, or you’re doing a walkthrough, whatever the case. You can also enable picture-in-picture, which uses your front camera, and shows your face in a little box as you play the game. Clearly there are some good opportunities for reaction videos here, and is a nice bonus.

Throughout my time with the game, I really only encountered one bug, which was with saving the game. However, the developer is very active on the forums and is quick to reply to people, and they've already given a solution to the save issue, which is detailed at the bottom of the description in the App Store. Aside from that, on my iPad 4, whenever I would leave the game via the home button, going back into the game resulted in a loss of sound. I had to force quit the game to have sound return. Hardly a big issue, though.

I finished the game in just over seven hours, and that didn't include exploring every nook and cranny, finding all the little items (such as the dolls strung around everywhere), and there is definitely more fun to be had just in finding and seeing everything. With a price that is very generous, and no IAP, Indigo Lake will leave you wanting more.

It’s almost Halloween anyway, it’s time to scare yourself silly.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Lazer Kat

    Sold. I generally go for the more casual 2D experiences on my iPad, but this looks great.

  • phillippeo

    I really tried to "get it" but I have to say this game was gone from my 4s after an hour. I don't think I'm a retard? I truly loved resident evil 4 and this started out feeling like that but minus... everything... a virtually empty world that is really a series of hairpin bends, a jeep that drives like a forklift truck, a soundtrack that goes in to overkill, No clue as to what you are meant to do apart from shoot some glowing dolls out of trees, Then when you get a key you think things are going to take off.. but they don't. I ended up scratching my head and thinking that with Dead Trigger on the way, this baby's got to go to free up some space. I'd happily reload Dead Effect and play through again but I got to say, this one was a 4/10 and the 4 was for the stellar graphics.

    • VirtualBoyFreak

      Then it's easy: you're not into this kind of games. According to your post, you're better off buying FPS such as N.O.V.A., Modern Combat, Call of Duty or things like that. This game is more a "Where am I? What's going on?" Than a zombie-killing spree.

      I'm not into FIFA's, I think they're games where a bunch of guys are kicking a ball, but that doesn't mean they're bad games. It just means that they don't fulfill my gaming needs ;)

    • sagek

      Stellar graphics? Interesting since the first feeling I had was, man, these are some extremely ghetto graphics they went for.. After seeing games like NOVA3 and Shadow Gun (both of them quite old), this feels like playing a Xbox 1 game during the Xbox 360/One era.

      • Benste

        I thought this too from watching videos of the game, but the real game's graphics I think are very well done. I don't know if you have it or not, but if you don't, try looking at it on a real game. It's so scary!

      • Maniacfive

        They also take up WAAAAAAAY more space than this does. Is it the best looking game on the App Store. No. Does it take up gigs of space? No. Does it look great regardless. Yes.

    • Based Xatu

      Dead effect was boring too.

  • LORE

    Thanks for the review James Paterson, btw ur books rock!

    • Th3R3n3gad3

      One question, is the book writer and this guy the same person?

    • drwifflesniffle

      I'm pretty sure these people are different. The author's name has 2 t's.

      • Th3R3n3gad3

        Ok, thanks for clearing that up.

  • Boris Nguetie

    GUYS the game is scary and creepy as hell!! and thats all we want for this type of game. all those complains of yours were irrelevant.

  • Kane

    So creepy is this game after reading rumours on the forums... The game has been sitting on my iPhone home screen for the past 1.5 days. I STILL need open the app :) but I'm too afraid, so I'm occupying my mind by playing - Cover Orange.

  • http://www.onebagtravel.com/ OneBagTravel

    i dig the aiming, reminds me of red orchestra

  • gaucho86

    Kid you not... Had the game going for 10 mins and I had to turn it off... I am a pansy but this thing is for real

  • phillippeo

    Actually agreed sagek, the stellar graphics comment was me trying to be positive! They are nothing against the likes of Modern Combat etc.. but as VirtualBoyFreak said, maybe this just isn't my kind of game.

  • Rickard Olsson

    Does anyone know how well this runs on iPad 2?

    • funny_man_vanya

      Seeing as how the debs manage to make it such a great looking but minimally animated and smooth running, ( don't take just my opinion) but I'd give it a shot. It's only two bucks anyways, right?

      • funny_man_vanya

        Whoops, *devs*

      • Rickard Olsson

        Thanks, but I've reached a point where even a buck is a buck! Though this looks almost too interesting to pass on! :)

  • zdanee

    Gotta tell you, I'm not impressed with the graphics. There are some nice textures, but the body animations are like in the first HalfLife from '98...

  • Maniacfive

    Devs just can't catch a break. It's either "oh my god this game is so big, I'll have to delete stuff, why can't they make them smaller" QQing, for the stuff that's really shiny. Or like this 136mb installed, "looks really dated. They should jazz it up."

    Can't please everyone I guess. I for one am finding the scares more than outweigh any negatives regards the looks. And it's a 136mb installed! Doesn't even make the top 50 installed apps by size on my phone.

  • thestapler

    Sick!! I was hoping this would be good. Kudos to Touch Arcade for getting this review up so quick for a game that could easily slip under the radar.

  • doublezz

    What the xxxxx the video scared my ass off!!

  • DopamineAddicted

    at the end i almost threw my beats studio headphones through my monitor. damn good trailer. buying now

Indigo Lake Reviewed by James Paterson on . Rating: 4.5