For me, Phosphor Games’ The Dark Meadow was one of the first mobile titles to challenge the way I thought about mobiles and tablets as actual gaming platforms. Alongside hits such as Ravensword and Infinity Blade, it pushed boundaries and made for an enjoyable, almost console-like experience, when it released around two years ago.
The Dark Meadow kicks off in an ominous fashion with the player waking up in a run-down hospital. After being confronted by an old man in a wheelchair you are then free to explore the derelict building and unearth it myriad of mysteries.
The best way to describe the game is as a first-person adventure with action role-playing elements. Unlike mobile shooters such as Modern Combat which use virtual joysticks, navigation is done by tapping nodes scattered along the corridors and hallways. Peppered throughout the overgrown building is a number of collectables and, as you will soon find out, demon-like creatures.
Stumbling upon the latter will trigger a combat sequence which splits into two parts. The first has players loosing crossbow bolts at the enemy as they approache. When at close-range, you’ll automatically switch your sword, the mechanics mirroring that of popular mobile RPG, Infinity Blade.
Using on-screen buttons and gestures you can slash at opponents as well as dodge and block incoming attacks. It’s an effective system that has been replicated in many other games and will prove engaging if this is you first encounter with the mechanics.
Combat isn’t the only other thing Dark Meadow has in common with Chair’s acclaimed iOS hit. Progress in the game is charted via the weapons and other items you equip, as well as money and experience points. Dark Meadow even borrows the same flow in design. Inevitably, you will come face to face with opponents who are just well out of your league. In such circumstances you are literally meant to die and respawn back in the room where you first awoke.
Though interesting when featured in Infinity Blade, the mimicry does feel all too apparent in Dark Meadow. For a game that focuses on narrative and the exploration of a huge environment, it seems counter-intuitive to keep sending players back to the starting line.
Yet, considering the game is more than two years old, it still holds up nicely. The Unreal Engine has done a fine job in bringing the asylum to life and the voice acting isn’t half bad either.