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Review: Til Morning’s Light – kid-friendly, haunted house horror

Amazon Game Studios has created a kid-friendly, sprawling haunted house horror game – and it’s refreshing

Price: $6.99 / £4.99
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 844 MB
Developer: Amazon Game Studios

Amazon might not instantly be recognizable as a mobile-game developer, but in the last two years they’ve begun to steadily release intricate, paid-for and character-centric games. The latest of which has been created alongside WayForward and is an epic, kid-friendly horror game, taking all the notable elements of haunted house tales, puzzle, and escape-the-room tropes, and throwing all of it into the mix to create a huge and highly playable game.

The game has a vast voice cast

The game has a vast voice cast

Though The Verge has already made the comparison between Til Morning’s Light and the adult console-franchise Resident Evil, we’ll reiterate it here. The sprawling mansion in which it’s set shares many similarities in its gameplay and approach. It requires the player to move around different levels, returning to certain rooms, involve themselves with close combat, and pick up and set down various objects and weapons.

Explore the mansion's many rooms, looking for hidden objects

Explore the mansion’s many rooms, looking for hidden objects

It’s all done with a kid, or at least teenage-friendly bent, and from the offset the story reflects this. An animated cut scene with full voice-acting at the start sets it up and features the main character Erica Page on the door step of a famously unsettling mansion. Two ‘friends’, or perhaps more appropriately, bullies, then push her into the house and lock the door behind her. Once inside, Erica is met instantly with booming ghostly voices (the voice acting continues throughout – something of a rarity in low-budget iOS games), and the more friendly ghostly apparitions of various residents. The story is, there has been a 200-year curse on this New England mansion, and Erica is now responsible for breaking it – before morning.

Guess we've got some stuff to hunt down

Guess we’ve got some stuff to hunt down

One thing that’s been noted about Til Morning’s Light, and which is certainly true, is that the puzzles, and the combat in the game are far from difficult. The combat approach is still fun though, with various swipes and taps used to hit out at the creatures – accuracy is key, and though the combinations get harder, the player’s ability grows with it. It’s not difficult, but that means it’s not frustrating either which invariably equals fun.

Maps are also used to navigate the vast building which becomes increasingly welcome. However, it’s hard to ever really get stuck when the map indicates that a puzzle needs to be solved in a specific room. We often hoped for a little more concurrent puzzle-solving which could have ramped up the challenge a little.

The combat isn't difficult, but it's still fun

The combat isn’t difficult, but it’s still fun

The game truly is gargantuan. However, some elements seem redundant, such as the creepy shopkeeper that appears from a suitcase in various places around the house. From here you can buy various powerups (no IAP, of course, players can be items with coins that are collected within the game), though most are also unnecessary because of the ease of combat. Coins are hardly difficult to come by either; each new room is littered with them, and we found ourselves buying almost everything in a shop only to never use anything. Speaking of the game’s size, Til Morning’s Light is power-hungry. It’s not something you can play while out and about because the battery drains at an alarming rate – make sure you’re near a wall socket.

The adventure takes you all around the house; inside, outside, and underground

The adventure takes you all around the house; inside, outside, and underground

Though Til Morning’s Light falls down in its lack of challenge, the contradictory tales weaved by the various residents with the house gives the game a rich narrative that leaves the player almost thankful for being able to speed through to get to the next segment of the story, which is played out over many rooms, and many levels.

Amazon hasn’t created a runaway winner, but it’s a very successful demonstration of the studio’s potential. It’s entertaining, beautifully-crafted, and a refreshing change from IAP-laden and cheap looking alternatives.

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