If Erica Page can't battle her way through a haunted mansion filled with horrific beasts and break an ancient curse before sunrise her life is forfeit, her soul trapped for all eternity. Doesn't that sound like fun?
In my experience a game that begins with the protagonist trapped in a haunted house can go one of two ways -- Alone in the Dark or Luigi's Mansion. WayForward Technologies' Til Morning's Light, available now for iOS, falls somewhere in-between -- it's goofy fun, but the threat is very real. If our heroine doesn't unravel the curse that's been trapping souls for hundreds of years, she's toast.
Luckily Erica Page isn't your average teenage girl.
She's a Buffy. She's Veronica Mars. She's the type of girl who can take gruesome creatures and the ghosts of the departed in relative stride. Her relaxed attitude towards her unfortunate predicament immediately sets the game's tone -- things are bad, but nothing we can't handle.
What we're handing is a disembodied voice named Crowes who isn't too happy about you being in his home. It's room after room filled with nightmare creatures we must face in rhythm-based tap combat. It's finding the keys to open new rooms to find the clues necessary to find the next key.
Some might say it's a standard adventure game with monster combat tacked on -- and they wouldn't be far off. There are times in Til Morning's Light when the bug and boogeyman battling gets to be a bit much. Rooms filled with wriggling worms, each a tap-based combat encounter, feel like they're simply there to waste time. Of course they are, but that's not something game developers want the player noticing.
But whenever the veneer starts to slip, WayForward ups the charm factor, restoring the game's charm with a witty piece of well-spoken dialogue, a particularly clever puzzle or an entertaining boss fight.
Ultimately Erica Page might be a little too good. Maybe it's my penchant for rhythm games, but the combat in Til Morning's Light is a breeze, each new, more powerful creature is just a couple more taps hit on cue. Boss fights mix puzzles into the formula, but as long as one's taps are true and their mind sharp, they don't pose much of a threat.
And really that's just fine with me. I prefer a more proactive sort of horror adventure. When I'm breaking a curse, I want that curse to be afraid of me. Better to have it on the run than to constantly be looking over my shoulder.
Til Morning's Light is the latest title in Amazon Game Studios premium game initiative, joining previously-released Tales From Deep Space and Lost Within as a game that trades a premium mobile price -- $8.99 -- for a more traditional gaming experience completely devoid of micro-transactions.
It's got a level of polish that's far beyond that of average mobile titles for iOS or Fire devices, attempting to raise the bar in a market whose customers seem more than happy having said bar repeatedly dropped on their heads. I'd love to see more games like it on mobile.
Til Morning's Light
Genre: Horror Adventure
Developer: Wayforward Technologies
Price: $8.99 -- No in-app purchases