Frustrated with Dark Meadow - Complications Ensue
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

I spent about five or six hours yesterday hacking through monsters on my iPad in Dark Meadow. For me it was a very frustrating experience. Dark Meadow is really two games. One is an interesting game in which you explore an abandoned hospital, trying to piece together mysteries -- who are you, how do you get out, and should you trust the creepy guy on the intercom? The other is a game where every two or three moves, a monster comes down the corridor. You shoot it with your crossbow, and then hack at it with your sword. As you level up, the monsters level up, and you get more gear. Because this is a video game, there are bags of gold lying around randomly. You need them to buy more gear.

It's not a terrific combat game. The combat is fairly elementary - just a lot of stabbing at the iPad with your finger, really, and a lot of dodging. I am not very good at twitch, so this was frustrating to me, but to, say, Hunter, it would be fairly trivial, not to say tedious, since the monsters' combo moves are programmed and telegraphed.

It might actually be a good mystery game. But I didn't get to find out, because every two or three moves, I had to fight a monster. This got tedious fast. The monsters have almost nothing to do with the story. You don't learn anything about the mystery from fighting the monsters. They're just an obstacle. When I wasn't fighting monsters, I was reduced to poking at cabinets for money (they replenish themselves) so I could buy better gear. I was longing for a "Tell Me a Story" setting, where I could skip the monsters and just follow the mystery.

In the end, I got so irritated at the game, I killed off my save game, so I wouldn't continue to play out of sheer need for closure. It stopped being fun. I was just playing to get to the end.

In a good story, the obstacle has something to do with the hero and his goal. The obstacles are reflections of the hero in some way; they mean something to him. The obstacles are inherent in the goal; they arise out of the goal in some way. Otherwise you're just hurling monsters down a corridor at the player in order to stretch out the gameplay.

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2 Comments:

Hi! Well said. Although, that was a gutsy move deleting the save data. Despite all my half-finished games on my iPhone, there's only one game I deleted without finishing -- Gameloft's Prince of Persia. But I still find Dark Meadow interesting enough to continue playing. Do you think you'll ever go back and start over?

By Blogger App Unwrapper, at 7:11 PM  

Oh, Lordy, no. That was the point of deleting the save. No way I'm going through five hours to get back to where I left off.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:35 PM  

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