We’ve been playing The Dark Meadow for the past several hours on our ASUS Transformer Prime and it just made its debut in NVIDIA’s Tegra Zone for its quad-core Tegra 3 devices. First – we’re blown away by the graphics. Second — it’s so addictive (and pretty scary!) that we didn’t sleep too well last night. Here’s the gist:
You awake in what appears to be some sort of abandoned hospital — you learn later it was called “Monclair,” but my spoilers will stop there. There’s an old man in a wheelchair that tells you you’re ok before he wheels off. You leave the room and you wander down the hallway by tapping the screen chasing some sort of ghost-girl. She quickly disappears and then a tutorial begins that teaches you how to slash the screen with your sword, shoot an arrow and block enemy attacks. Enemies (super ugly monsters) spawn randomly and the goal is to kill them, level up, earn gold and eventually, get the heck out of this asylum!
In the beginning of the game I accidentally opened the wrong door to the second story of the hospital, after which I was given a scary montage of baby footprints and cribs. I assume this ghost has some serious childhood issues and could use some time in a therapist’s chair. She handily whooped my behind and I was presented with the message: “You’re not ready.” Ok then.
After I died I was presented with my kill streak number (I only got to 7 kills before I died, Joey’s the real gamer in the house, you know that). I was given the option to reawaken, which I did, and found myself back at the beginning of the story in the maternity ward. That’s where the addiction comes in: you need to start over and figure out how the heck to get out. It’s not easy at first, but it gets much easier as you level up.
After I woke up I quickly found a key and realized that exploration is the key (pun!) to this game. In many ways it reminds me of an interactive Macbeth-style play here in New York City called Sleep No More. There’s old audio playing in the background and you have to explore rooms to understand the storyline. The same goes for The Dark Meadow. You’ll wander rooms finding money, health kits, notes telling you about “Deals with Him” (presumably the devil or that creepy old guy, I won’t tell you which), newspaper clippings, birthday cards and other clues on how to escape. As you move throughout the game you begin to understand what’s going on and who exactly this guy in the wheelchair, who speaks to you erratically over a loudspeaker system, is.
The graphics are amazing, no doubt due to the Tegra 3 processor’s gaming prowess and the game’s Unreal engine. NVIDIA told us anyone using Tegra 3 will see “higher polygon count, animated textures, water effects and dynamic particle effects” and I couldn’t be more impressed with how the game looks. In fact, the whole experience reminds me a lot of PC games just a few years ago, which is incredible considering I’m playing this on a tablet.
My only gripe is that swiping the screen can get repetitive and the enemies get pretty tough to kill if you’re not good at blocking or dodging attacks. You can use and buy “Sun Coins” to purchase more powerful bomb weapons (or earn 1 Sun Coin per ever 5 monsters you kill), which drop a foe in one hit, but otherwise you’ll need to keep killing enemies in order to level up and increase your stats. Thankfully, however, you’ll also earn and find money as you progress, which can be spent on amulets and better weapons, too. There are super funny weapons later on in the game, including a candy cane and a foam finger. I chose the foam finger and it was pretty hilarious beating baddies with it.
I don’t want to give away any more of the game because the whole idea is it’s a mystery. I’m about 3.5 hours into it myself and I don’t plan on stopping soon. You can pick up your own copy of The Dark Meadow today in the Tegra Zone Market. The price is definitely worth your time, especially if you want to kick back with killer graphics and a good mystery to solve.
[Disclaimer: NVIDIA provided us with an early copy of The Dark Meadow in order to write our review. We’ll also be giving away devices as part of a giveaway with NVIDIA later today. NVIDIA had no part in this review and we honestly and truly enjoyed the game.]