Gloomy Hollow is a dungeon crawler-style action role playing game, similar in some respects to titles like Diablo III. It features a visual style, theme, and aesthetic that would probably appeal to fans of Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice without aping either one.
This is due in no small part to the game’s Underworld setting, specifically the town of Gloomy Hollow, where the dead come to rest in peace. At least, that’s what they would be doing, were it not for the recent rise in monsters attacking the town. It is now up to you to guide a group of heroes to acquire the five Soul Crystals to restore order so that these dead folk can return to going about their afterlives.
You begin the game as the newly-deceased gunslinger Moustache Jim, who wields a pistol at the outset. It isn’t long before you make the acquaintance of your new allies: The large Smithy, a stronger, slower giant with a hammer, and Rosie, whose razor-sharp fans strike with lightning speed. You can switch out between each of them back in the town between stages, where you can also purchase new skills, weapons, and level up each of them.
You’re pretty much thrown right into the action at the outset, with Gloomy Hollow allowing you to figure out how things work on your own– at first, anyway. There are some visual clues to help you learn how the game plays with tap- and pinch-based moves as you tap or hold spots on the map to guide the characters around. You’ll soon be given the option to switch to a more conventional virtual thumbstick-and-button combo, as well as a choice between “casual” and “oldschool” difficulties, with all of these options available to be changed at almost any time on the pause menu.
Generally speaking the game runs well, but it isn’t without its flaws. While the dark and gloomy visuals provide a nice atmosphere, it can be kind of difficult to make out details and some movements on a smaller iPhone screen. Similarly, targeting while moving can be difficult, and the text isn’t very large.
The worst part came when looking at items to purchase in town, when choosing “no” to a purchase wound up buying the item with rare purple gems (which can be acquired through in-app purchases, of course). To be sure, I tried a second time to decline, only to wind up with another item I didn’t actually want to purchase.
Altogether, it just feels like the game wasn’t really optimized for the smaller screen of an iPhone. It’s a universal app, so if you can play it on an iPad, do. At its core, Gloomy Hollow is a fun, charming game. But if the above problems don’t sound like they could be easily overcome for you as an iPhone player, then caution is advocated here.