The combination of Epic Games’ Unreal Technology and the iOS platform has been a match made in heaven ever since we first caught a glimpse of it through a tech demo app called Epic Citadel, which dropped a jaw or two after its release. Then, Epic Games published Infinity Blade, which a year after release could easily be one game I don’t hesitate to recommend to any new iOS gamer. Now a new game has been released that uses the Unreal Technology that takes a lot of its inspiration from Infinity Blade, but it offers a completely different environment and intriguing story that will certainly keep you on your toes.
The Dark Meadow starts off with the you waking up in a room in an abandoned hospital. You have no idea how you got there, but an old man in a wheelchair greets you once you get up. After a short introduction, he proceeds to scurry off as he hears the hospital’s witch approaching from the hallway. The old man then begins to speak to you over the hospital’s intercom system as you make your way through the abandoned hospital to not only find out where exactly you are, but also why you were brought here.
Using the Unreal Technology, The Dark Meadow looks as stunning as Infinity Blade does. Hallways will look old and withered, light will randomly shoot into the building through boarded up windows, and the environment outside, from the little time you’ll get to see the outside of the hospital, looks amazing. The enemies you’ll face off against also have a unique horror look and feel to them that allows each of them to be completely distinguishable from the others. In short, this is a beautiful game.
As with Infinity Blade, combat is done in a Punch-Out!! style “wait for an opening, then hit ’em with some combos” gameplay mechanic. One thing The Dark Meadow adds to the mix is the opportunity to do some ranged damage with a crossbow to your enemies as they either slowly creep or sprint their way down the hallway. Each enemy has their own style of fighting you, both by means of ranged and melee attacks. Early on in the game, your enemy’s attack could probably be predicted if you learn their movements, but later on in the game, enemies will hit harder, faster, and will often psych you out requiring a bit more strategy.
Once you’re done killing some enemies, you’ll be rewarded with experience points that are used to level yourself up, as well as gold to be used to purchase new equipment from the store. The store allows you to purchase one of three items: swords, crossbows, and amulets. Each item has its own set of stats that will enhance your character’s stats, such as melee, ranged, and shield. When your character levels up, you’re given points that can be used to permanently increase stats.
Playing between the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, I’m torn to decide which is the better version. With the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, The Dark Meadow looks stunning, but with the iPad 2’s A5 processor, the game performs much better on it. Seeing as the iPhone 4S will come with an A5 chip, it may be the ultimate platform to experience The Dark Meadow on.
FINAL THOUGHT: The Dark Meadow may borrow much of its combat mechanics and leveling system, but it can certainly hold its own with its gorgeous visuals, unique enemies, and its intriguing story. This is a game that shouldn’t be missed.
The Dark Meadow ($5.99) – [iTunes Link]