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Video Game / The Dark Meadow

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"This is a terrible place. A once great institution of healing twisted into a terrifying pit of corruption and death. I've been here longer than I can remember. But now that you're here, maybe we can work together to escape this nightmare. After all, you have to trust someone. And since I'm the only one not trying to kill you at the moment, it might as well be me! I am not going to lie to you, the most likely outcome for you is ceaseless torment. I probably should've lied to you... shouldn't I?"
The Old Man

The Dark Meadow is a 2011 Survival Horror game for the iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android operating systems. It was developed by Phosphor Games, a fledgling company that utilizes Unreal Engine 3.

At the beginning of the game, a nameless man wakes up in an abandoned hospital uncertain of how or why he got there. An old man, who mostly speaks to you through the speakers, warns of a beautiful witch whose minions roam the halls seeking the living. Equipped with a crossbow and a sword, it's up to you to take on the white witch and her hordes of grotesque creatures.

Much like Infinity Blade, the game plays like a sword-fighting version of Punch-Out!!. After a few seconds of firing with a crossbow, enemies are then fought one at a time and player movement is limited to quick dodges rather than actual sidestepping during fights. The warrior can also block attacks, and retaliate with his sword.

As the man kills the monsters, he gets gold to buy better equipment and experience to make him a better fighter. He also starts to pick up journal entries and documents that tell the real reason why he is there. In short, many things are not what they seem in this abandoned hospital...

This game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The main setting of the game, where you have to fight your way from the first floor up.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: If you choose to stab Trickster, he'll simply pull the sword out and reiterate that he cannot be killed. Then you will collapse and be sent right back to the first room. The Trickster foreshadows this fate in a monologue, but if you do so anyway, you will just repeat the old cycle over again.
  • Bad Liar: The old man certainly is this. It's mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Trickster, in his second and third forms.
  • Beauty Is Bad: The White Witch. Or is she?
  • BFS: Even the swords that look small in the shop are massive in-game.
  • Big Bad: The old man sees the White Witch as this... until you gradually discover that the White Witch is your daughter's soul. The REAL Big Bad is, in fact, the old man (The Trickster).
  • Bittersweet Ending: The option where you sacrifice yourself by jumping into the pit. You are now dead, but you've redeemed yourself by emancipating your daughter's soul from The Trickster and the Abandoned Hospital falls shortly after.
  • Black Comedy: The old man's sense of humor.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Like Infinity Blade, there's some brutal finishing moves that don't result in the High-Pressure Blood you'd expect.
  • Blood Knight: The monsters, it seems — which probably explains why they get stronger as you do, and the game outright tells you that stronger monsters are taking notice of you if you're on a solid killstreak.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Using real money, players can buy massive amounts of gold. Because gold can be used for new weapons and amulets, with enough money you could have every weapon and a maxed-out character before you fight your first enemy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: That dirty fountain in the outdoor plaza? It's a portal that takes you directly to the final area of the game, saving you a lot of time if The Trickster kills you the first time around.
  • Class and Level System
  • Cool Sword: Lots, and also cool crossbows and amulets.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The White Witch can and will deliver this to you if you aren't prepared for her.
  • Deal with the Devil: This is what kicks off the events of the game. Ben Jacobi's parents sold their son's soul in exchange for being cured of his illness and receiving 17 good years. Later, Ben sells his daughter's soul in exchange for 17 more years in his life, which weren't anywhere near as rosy as the years that came from the first deal. Ben's reached the end of his contract, hence why he's in the hospital.
    • According to the "Scrawls of a Madman" clippings, Jacobi's ancestors in general were doing this in succession, starting with Silas Montclair trying to strike it rich in the aptly-named "Bleak Meadow". The Trickster apparently liked the quality of Montclair's soul, and so decided to take the entire bloodline.
    • It's even lampshaded by the Trickster himself, who states the trope word for word and then notes, "ah, but I'm not the Devil. I have met him, though." He then goes on a spiel about the time he actually met the Devil himself.
  • Door to Before: If you were defeated by The Trickster, you can just keep clicking on the cicada pool in the courtyard to instantly jump to the final boss arena.
  • Downer Ending: If you choose to defeat your daughter's soul one last time and toss it into the pit, you'll awaken at a modern mental asylum. The Trickster double-crosses you and locks you up in chains for the next 17 years of the contract.
  • Easter Egg: If you head to the second floor elevator even after you've gotten access to the final boss, the Trickster will get annoyed at you, and then decide to put you on a 'guided tour' of sorts through that section, with more of his hilarious commentary, including details of how the monsters were made, and the revelation that the boss of that particular section is against the horribly mutated soul of the doctor who had made a deal with the Trickster.
  • Endless Game: If you manage to defeat the final boss, you get a choice of three cool ending sequences and the ability to reawaken. You can repeat this sequence of events as long as you want.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Trickster, AND HOW!
  • Evil Gloating: The Trickster absolutely loves to do this. He gives GLaDOS a run for her money, which is really saying something.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: Monsters won't attack you in any room that has light coming in. (Although a little bit getting in through a crack is OK for them, apparently.)
  • Evil Laugh: Being a middleman from Hell, it's only natural for The Trickster to do this.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Arguably Ben Jacobi versus The Trickster.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The old man, aka The Trickster.
  • Fan Disservice: Most of the enemies are naked, but they all have grotesque heads and huge scars.
  • Going Through the Motions: The warrior's weapons include swords and crossbows, yet the combat animations never change.
  • Good All Along: The White Witch, who is actually your daughter's soul.
  • Guide Dang It!: You have to find 10 gems in order to gain additional stat points that will help you beat the White Witch. Good luck trying to find them all without referring to the internet forums.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Let's face it: even if you deck out your weapons, you are not going to win your first battle against the White Witch, let alone The Trickster in his second and third forms.
  • 100% Completion: Collecting all of the documents unlocks an achievement.
  • I Need You Stronger: Or rather, the White Witch needs your character to be stronger.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: It turns out that the Trickster got a little too greedy about collecting the souls of the Montclair bloodline. Ella was much too resistant to being turned, and he can't figure out what do do with her... and the mere presence of her unabolishable goodness is jamming his other schemes up. So, he decides to call in Ben, who, not being a supernatural entity, won't be repelled in the corruption process.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The old man calls you out for this. That said, he loves ranting about how he has all the food supply in the hospital.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Decided to screw over your daughter for a second time? Have fun spending the next 17 years being locked up in a mental asylum!
  • Light Is Not Good: The White Witch, according to the old man, is in charge of the hordes of grotesque creatures that are trying to kill you.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: The White Witch gradually reveals to the main character through messages and clippings that she is actually his daughter's soul.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted. Your enemies come one at a time, but they can pop out at any time. This can make combat against them quite annoying.
  • Multiple Endings: You get three: a Downer Ending if you choose to toss your daughter's soul into the pit, a The Bad Guy Wins ending if you decide to attempt to kill the Big Bad, and a Bittersweet Ending if you choose to turn around and sacrifice yourself.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The White Witch and The Trickster.
  • New Game Plus: Justified in the story. Each new game occurs when you wake up from your hospital bed. It's also mandatory, because you can't retry if you lose to the White Witch or The Trickster in his three forms.
  • Reverse Grip: The warrior does this for many of his attack animations.
  • Scenery Porn: Judging from the fact that this game was made with Unreal Engine 3, this should surprise no one at all!
  • Shout-Out: The old man gives quite a few references to pop culture in his ramblings. Notable examples include references to Snow White, Atlantis, The Beatles, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
  • Take a Third Option: Don't want to kill the White Witch but also don't want to try to take the Trickster's life in vain? Just turn around and touch the pit.
  • Trick Boss: With your high experience levels and fancy weapons, The Trickster's first form gets his ass handed to him fairly quickly. Next thing you know, The Trickster unleashes his second form through some squicktastic Body Horror and you'll be dealing with someone who's much more powerful than you.
  • Troll: The old man gradually becomes this if you spend more time finding evidence than fighting monsters.
    • And considering the nature of the game, his dialogue eventually becomes repetitive, though he'll more often than not be playing music instead. Chances are you'll get sick of that, too. He really enjoys those few tunes, or he's just doing it on purpose just to annoy you.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Choosing to save your own skin for 17 more years in exchange for screwing over your daughter again will surely earn you fans.
  • Villain Protagonist: It turns out that Ben Jacobi (the player) sold his newborn daughter's soul to the devil just so that he could live for 17 more years. You also have the option of corrupting your daughter's soul in the end in exchange for another 17 years in the character's life, for maximum Video Game Cruelty Potential.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Trickster has one of these if you choose to sacrifice yourself by walking into the pool of dark sludgy stuff.
  • Villainous Harlequin: Some of the more agile enemies are these.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The old man sure communicates with you quite a bit through the intercom.
  • Was Once a Man: The presence of Document 1 strongly implies that the Trickster was originally a wicked mortal man who actually managed to sneak out of his own Deal with the Devil...except Satan or Legba actually trapped his soul onto the Bleak Meadow. In order to fulfill the contract of bought-and-paid-for souls needed to un-shackle him, the Trickster has been corrupting the desperate who chance upon the Meadow, in the process becoming a lesser demon.
    • For the female — and emphatically not unholy — version, the White Witch is actually Ella Jacobi, the player-character's lost daughter.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Trickster offers you to join him after the final boss fight. If you accept, he double-crosses you and locks you up in an asylum in the real world. Then the credits roll and you're placed back at the beginning of the game.
  • Wham Episode: What the White Witch tells you after the first fight.

"Maybe that's a bit harsh. After all, we're not the bad guys here. Well, I'm not anyway. I'm not so sure about you..."