Somewhere within the far reaches of The Underworld, lies a Wild Western haven known as Gloomy Hollow, where the many lost souls of The Underworld reside. But all is not well in this once bustlin’ berg, as hellish beasts look to wipe Gloomy Hollow off the map. Playing as town sheriff Moustache Jim, blacksmith Smithy and the deadly Rosie, it is up to you to recover several stolen Soul Crystals and ensure Gloomy Hollow’s safety.
Gloomy Hollow is a classic top-down dungeon crawler with RPG elements, playable using the standard on-screen controls or by tapping the screen for movement and combat. On an iPhone, the on-screen controls were too small and inaccurate, causing me to run straight past enemies and into the environment. As a result, I found the alternative controls to be far more effective.
Within the first couple of levels you will have unlocked all three of the game’s characters; each one having their own skills, abilities and weaponry. Moustache Jim favours guns, Smithy loves axes, while Rosie employs a range of blade-tipped fans for destroying the denizens of The Underworld.
Beginning in the town of Gloomy Hollow, you can tool up your characters and take on a linear array of levels via a map (although you can skip levels by using jewels, Gloomy Hollow’s in-app-purchased currency). Each level has three objectives (complete the level, kill all enemies, and collect three blue souls), with a key given for each one completed. These keys will unlock doors in each level that lead to enemies, loot and more collectables, adding some replay value to each level. In town, there is also an opportunity to pick up more quests for money and XP by collecting certain items or defeating a certain number of particular enemies.
Of course, the cash you earn can be used to purchase weapons, upgrades and armour, while levelling up with XP gives you skill points that can be used to buy extra skills and abilities to give you the upper hand. Thankfully, your XP is shared between all three characters, so if you fancy a change of persona, you don’t have to level them up to carry on through the game.
Despite two difficulty settings (Casual and Old School), Gloomy Hollow isn’t too challenging – I rarely needed to purchase weapons, armour or upgrades, and I rarely needed to use my skills either. Out of the three characters, you’ll soon find one that suits you best, and you’ll end up sticking with that character to obliterate the opposition (I tended to pick Rosie as I managed to pick up a fan that was far more powerful than any other weapons I had found for any of the characters at that point).
Gloomy Hollow can feel quite repetitive if played for too long at once, but the bite-sized structure of the levels and side-quests make for a game that is great when played in 10-15 minute bursts.
In-app purchases are here, as you’d expect, with real life money being used to purchase in-game money, gems (for skipping levels, unlocking doors without using keys, or increasing skill slots) and also some game-breaking perks such as a Master Key and double XP. You do find gems as you go along, and I never really felt like I needed to spend much in-game money, so luckily these IAPs are not needed. However, I’m rather dubious of why IAPs are in a game that you have to pay for in the first place.
Once you’ve finished a level you can view a replay of your run-through, which is a nice addition. You can edit this replay, add voice or video commentary and then share it to the Everyplay service for the world to see. This feature probably won’t be used by many players, but it’s a cool little addition for those who want to share their gameplay online.
Gloomy Hollow takes place in a Burton-esque interpretation of the Wild West, which does look great, but sadly there is little variation in enemies or environments. This is a shame as the character design is relatively well done and the game does look decent, while still running a smooth framerate. Everything is quite small on an iPhone/iPod Touch screen, but I imagine everything looks much better on the larger screen of an iPad. With that said, the visuals are simple enough, that I never had difficulty seeing what was happening on-screen.
Matching the game’s visuals, the audio features a typical cartoony creepiness with eerie music and fairly standard sound effects, that won’t make you reach for your headphones – but won’t make you tear them off in disgust, either.
VERDICT: Skyrock Games have developed a solid dungeon crawler, with decent controls and plenty of demon-slaying, all in a great, spooky Wild-West setting. It won’t provide a great deal of challenge, or much in the way of variety, but it will provide you with some light RPG action that’s a lot of fun.
The RPG elements and loot add a little depth to what could have been a very simple and repetitive game. If you fancy something a little different for your mobile device, Gloomy Hollow is a well-developed game that certainly fits the bill.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.