NVIDIA Showcases Tegra 3 Optimized Version of Already Excellent Dark Meadow: The Pact Game

NVIDIA has collaborated with Phosphor Games, creators of the iOS title Dark Meadow: The Pact, to bring a special version of the game to Tegra 3 devices. By coincedence, I've been playing the game recently on the iPhone, including during a period when low-resolution graphics were mistakenly being loaded on the iPhone 4S. As a result, I've seen the game's graphics evolve twice--once when the iPhone issue was patched, and now again with Tegra 3 support.

Non-Tegra - Left, NVIDIA Tegra 3 Optimized - Right

Looking at the screenshots, I like what they've done with the place. Dark Meadow: The Pact takes place in an abandoned hospital built in the 1920s. You awaken with no memory of how you came to be there, but are greeted by an irrascible old man in a wheelchair. He flees shortly thereafter and leaves you to explore the crumbling building alone -- or so you think. Shortly after leaving your room, you're attacked by minions of the witch -- the old man keeps in touch with you via the building's ancient PA system.

We'd recommend Dark Meadow: The Pact to anyone who likes a reasonable backstory to go along with their hack-and-slash. As you explore Montclair Hospital you'll find clues to your own past as well as the dark history of the building whose decrepit corridors you roam. The lore actually carries the story better than the gameplay -- the monster battles are limited to Attack/Block/Dodge Left/Dodge Right. While there's a small amount of strategy to dodging, there's no way for you to advance or retreat once combat starts.

Tegra 3's increased GPU horsepower appears to have been put to good effect in the screenshots we've seen thus far. The game's art is already quite good; Tegra 3 introduces more vegetation in the rooms and additional textures in the hallways. Dark Pact is a game that relies heavily on atmosphere to build the ruins of Montclair and the new environments help blend the hospital with the titular meadow creeping through its windows and down dark hallways.

The one thing we'd add is that while DM is technically free, you may enjoy the game more if you cough up some cash. Like most "freemium" games, Dark Meadow offers you the chance to buy a useful in-game material in exchange for hard currency (Sun Coins, in this case). Sun Coins are exchanged for weapons, amulets, Med packs, and gems (gems are used to increase in-game stats). While you can earn all of these materials through game play, the upper level items cost hundreds or even thousands of Sun Coins -- and you earn them in dribs and drabs of 2-3 apiece.

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As a result, playing strictly for free means grinding a lot of levels. The old man eventually runs out of interesting things to say, you'll have found all the bits of lore, but you're still stuck grinding. This goes on until you've amassed enough gold coins to buy upgrades that'll let you beat the floor boss and move forward through the game.

Regardless of which device you play it on, or whether you spend money on it, Dark Meadow is definitely worth a download. It's one of the first mobile games that really tries to tell a story, and while the freemium pay system clonks you on the head with its own necessity, the underlying game is still a lot of fun. The Tegra 3 version is a gorgeous enhancement -- if you own a T3 you ought to check it out.

And finally, NVIDIA and Phosor Games are sponsors of our Tegra 3 Tablet Spring Sweepstakes, where you could win either an Asus Transformer Prime and Dock, or the Acer Iconia Tab A510. So make sure you get in on that action ASAP.