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You should spend some serious time in A Dark Room

a dark room

The beautiful high-resolution screens on the iPhone and iPad make games look fantastic, but a great story doesn't require eye candy, and as A Dark Room proves, it doesn't really require graphics at all. A Dark Room is a text-based adventure which starts with you waking up in an unlit, cold room, and ends in a way that I wouldn't dare spoil for you.

A Dark Room is all about story and atmosphere. The game explains what is happening using short text blurbs that will make you feel like you're reading an interactive book. It's a classic "waking up in a strange place with amnesia" beginning, but it doesn't stay that way for long. Your first order of business is to stoke your fire, but this modest goal is quickly overshadowed by much more important tasks like gathering supplies, investigating strange occurrences, and managing other anonymous travelers who wander into your camp.

Resource management quickly becomes a key focus, and you'll need to strike a balance between gathering supplies manually and assigning others to do the work for you. As you perform these menial tasks and micromanage your growing community by building additional buildings and making deals with wandering nomads, you'll eventually gain the ability to explore a bit. What you eventually find in the wilderness is something I won't reveal, but it's definitely worth the time it takes to find it.

A Dark Room is essentially as long as you want it to be, and you can spend a lot of time gathering resources without progressing the story at all. It's a mix of grinding and story moments that will keep you going, and it's the perfect game to pick up when you have just a few moments to kill.

You won't likely find much reason to replay the game once you've seen everything it has to offer, but that one playthrough is lengthy and unique enough to easily warrant the US$0.99 asking price. Whatever you do, don't let the game's text-heavy approach fool you -- there's a gorgeous experience waiting for you, just not a visual one.

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