The Future of Phone Gaming? A Look at “The Dark Meadow”


I wake suddenly  in a strange, filthy room. A kindly old man in a wheelchair is speaking to me from the doorway. I’m not really listening to what he’s saying as my eyes move around the room – it’s obvious that no one has been here for years. The wallpaper is peeling, my bed mattress is moldy, and there are piles of rubble everywhere. However, soft sunlight is filtering through the shattered windows of my room and hitting a portion of the wall beside my bed. Someone has tacked an “It’s a Girl!” banner on the wall, and underneath the banner are several brightly coloured cards and a baby book (none of which I can read).

“You’re the first live person I’ve seen in years,” the old man says, snapping me back to the present…

A few nights ago, I was laying in bed unable to sleep. I decided that I needed something mildly fun to do that was also free, so I checked my phone’s app store. When it comes to apps, if they’re not completely utilitarian, I feel that they should be cheap and cheerful – I’m usually not willing to pay more than $2.00. With that in mind, I looked through “top rated free” and found The Dark Meadow by Phosphur Games. After reading the basic description, “A dark fairytale of intrigue and mystery, where the sins of the past must be paid for… So sets the stage for The Dark Meadow — a visually stunning world of deep exploration, gripping story, and heart racing combat, created with the unrivaled power of the Unreal Engine 3” I decided to give it a try. It was free, so there was certainly nothing to lose.

Also, this is a game for phones….and they’re using the Unreal Engine 3?? Now I was even MORE intrigued. I fell asleep waiting for the game to download, but when I began to play the next day, I was instantly engrossed and accidentally played for close to three hours. Thank god it was my day off.

The description of the game calls it a “dark fairytale”, which usually means “fantasy” but there are definitely some horror elements as well, along with the basic elements of any RPG – looting/collecting/leveling up, etc.

The game starts you off with some basic weapons: a crossbow and sword, as well as an amulet. As you gather coins and level up, you can get better gear with better stats. Why you would have a sword and a crossbow in a hospital though, I don’t know…but I also don’t care.

My first task was to leave my room, and to move around you simply click the green circles on floors and doors. I wandered around my room and saw not only bags of money to loot, but also gemstones which you can eventually use to augment weapons. I ended up wandering down a hallway and meeting my “tutorial demon.” The combat controls felt weird at first, but as I killed more mobs  it got considerably easier.

Usually you start off with your crossbow, as things will come charging towards you. Once you get the hang of how to handle the crossbow, head shot mastery is a good thing. When the mob is in melee range, you can only use your sword which you can also block with. Sometimes mobs will spit at you and you need to dodge either left or right (screenshot below). If you successfully block or dodge an attack, the mob will wear itself out and you can hit it harder than you normally would. You only get a certain number of shield charges, but they, like your health, will regenerate once combat is over.

Currently, The Dark Meadow is only available for iOS, but a little research earlier today lead to the discovery that there will be an Android version available sometime this month, so keep an eye out for this one.

Although I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m extremely impressed – it IS beautiful, atmospheric, creepy and occasionally funny (the old man communications with you occasionally via the intercoms in “safe” rooms and, well…he’s been alone for awhile). I’m still amazed that the game is free – and after playing for a few hours, I can safely say that I’d pay for this…even more than $2.00.

To visit The Dark Meadow and to see more screenshots and videos, please visit http://www.thedarkmeadowgame.com/

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