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Review: Dusktreaders

January 19, 2009
Overview Dusktreaders is a 3D action game based around your standard vampires n’ werewolves horror themes. The game has five levels, each timed and with a single objective. The levels are mazelike and full of zombies, skeletons, and other creepy baddies for you to slay. While a 3D horror game on the iPhone sounds like a lot of fun, Dusktreaders sadly just does not deliver.


  • Accelerometer/Touch Controls
Tilt your iPhone to move, tap buttons to attack, jump, and change weapons. The movement works, but can be frustrating when you’re trying to just face one direction and shoot.
  • 3D Horrorshow
Well, the game does feature 3D graphics, but they’re not very good. Low resolutions, bland color scheme, and more than occasional framerate hiccups make your eyes wish they were back in a better-looking game.

  • Legitimately Creepy... Sort Of
Dusktreaders did manage to make my skin crawl a little - mostly because of the creepy sound effect that plays whenever a skeleton comes into view. Any other visceral response I had was due to freaking out because I wasn’t able to aim well enough to get a straight shot.


The Good: Oh boy. Well, the intent is there. I really would love to see a scary game on the iPhone, and this game is at least trying. The dialogues before each level hint at a purpose or lore behind your actions, even if they don’t explain. The ‘boss’ characters were tough enough that it took me a few run-throughs of each level to complete. The Bad: Yikes. I had trouble getting through this one. When the first prompt told me to get to shore within a certain amount of time, I said “Okay, a timed level. Fine”. Then, when ALL the levels were timed, I had to wonder why a developer would try to create a horror game with time limits on every level. It takes away from the feeling of “I wonder what could be around the corner”, because in order to beat the level’s you’ve pretty much got to rush through them.

Speaking of the levels - they reminded me of mazes, but not in a good way. I had no clue where I was on more than one occasion thanks to the repetitive environments and lack of landmarks. There was no variation in the actions of the enemies - there were a few different skins, but they essentially all did the same thing. They also didn't give chase at all, meaning I could basically just run through the levels, grab a potion before the boss, and take ‘em out. While the graphics and gameplay left more than a little to be desired, the most deficient aspect was the story. A large percentage of the fun in vampire/werewolf/horror games is the narrative that, while sometimes cheesy, provides a reason to be scared or at least nervous. Even a screen of well written text describing how the undead came to be in the game’s fictional setting would set some kind of tone for the game. What frustrates me is that they didn’t even try. You are not set up as any kind of character, you have no effect on the story by progressing. When the game’s intro consisted of two sentences: “The town is infested with undead. Escape to the shore.” I was severely underwhelmed.

Oh, and instead of including the instructions in-game, it seems like the developer saw fit to just toss them in the App Store description. Some of the information might have been useful, like your sword damages multiple enemies, or that the flamethrower does damage over time. I read in the App Store that this game cost $4.99 at launch. What?!


Skip it. Unless the screenshots you see here are something you absolutely MUST see on your iPhone’s screen (I doubt it), I can't say you'd get much out of Dusktreaders. The game isn’t really even fun. The most entertainment I got out of it was the second of anticipation I felt when I heard the first enemy’s creepy cackle. After that, to be honest, it was pretty lame. This game gets a “nice try”, but without serious updates it is not worth anyone’s dollar at this point.

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