by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
A relaxing journey
In Meadowland you control a faerie - which actually looks like a butterfly – as you explore the environment, working your magic upon the landscape in order to progress the poetic story. It is probably best described as a puzzle game set in a tranquil location with your little faerie flittering around. It is quite a simple game, with a simple story.
The story is about two people who are brought together by the faerie and its magic. It is a story of life and nature and of rebirth. But it is also a very short story. Unfortunately, Meadowland almost feels as if it is simply the first instalment of a larger story. After completing the seven chapters, the story ended and I was left thinking 'is that it?'
There is a small book as you enter the landscape - known as the Grimoire - that directs you towards the goal for each chapter. Unfortunately, there is little indication on what you’re supposed to do exactly. As the faerie flies around the landscape, the game gives audible clues to help with the puzzles. Despite the audio cues, it requires a fair bit of trial and error gameplay as you click around hoping that you click a point that triggers the next step in the game. It can be quite aggravating to have an idea of what you’re supposed to do, but have no idea how to implement it without clicking away at all parts of the screen in the hope that you somehow find the solution.
Day and Night
Meadowland works in daily cycles and some of the puzzles can only be completed during the day, whilst other sections can only be completed when the moon is shining. The introduction of day and nocturnal activities works rather well, but it is just disappointing that the game has been so poorly implemented. There is no hint system to let you know if what you've done forms part of the puzzle's completion. Although the day and night cycles improve the game, they can also be the impetus for some of the annoyance, as you are required to click on certain points of the landscape at seemingly the precise moment. These moments can feel random and, in fact in my first playthrough, I solved one of the early chapters by accident. When I played through it a second time, I spent ages trying to retrace my steps, but nothing seemed to work as intended.
Visually, the game suffers from the fact that it was designed for mobile devices first and foremost. The transition from night to day and back again works well, but on the whole the visuals are somewhat ordinary. The visual effects are nice, especially the northern lights, but they feel dated. The audio is a little better, with the sound of birds singing during the day, crickets chirping at night and the sound of the breeze as you ascend into the higher reaches of the atmosphere. The music is relaxing too, which at times it needs to be when the frustration kicks in.
More at home on a tablet device
Unfortunately, Meadowland is probably the sort of game that should never have been ported from a mobile device to PC. As a mobile game it would be a fine way to pass the time sitting in a doctor’s waiting room or during your daily commute. But, as a PC game, it just doesn’t cut it. The day and night cycles work well, but the game is ultimately let down by the fact that there is little direction given to the gamer in order to complete the faerie's missions. But having said that, it may be just as well, or the game would only run for ten minutes. The visuals support a mobile game too, looking a little underwhelming. And even though the price is low, I can't bring myself to recommend it for the PC. Maybe stick with the touch screens of a tablet device.
Relaxing atmosphere, day and night cycles work well.
Too short, becomes a trial and error click-fest when nothing seems to work.