Most of my favorite mobile games are experiences I can play in quick bursts. I'm able to get in a few rounds of Threes while waiting for the train, or try to top my Alto's Adventure high score before going to bed. Til Morning's Light isn't like that at all. It's a huge, sprawling adventure that takes you through a massive haunted house filled with monsters and an alarming amount of locked doors. It's sort of like the first Resident Evil by way of Nickelodeon, and its size and scope make it feel like a game you'd find on the PS2. And the weirdest part might just be that it was made by Amazon.
Til Morning's Light stars Erica, a teen girl who has been locked in a spooky-looking mansion as a prank. As it turns out, it's actually haunted, and she spends the rest of the game solving ancient mysteries in a quest to get out alive. The house itself is really the main character here. It's absolutely huge, filled with everything from eerie dining rooms to an underground crypt, and it's probably the biggest virtual environment I've ever explored on a mobile device.
A horror game by way of Nickelodeon
There are more than a hundred rooms to explore though, naturally, most are locked from the outset. Almost every room is home to some sort of puzzle, most very straightforward, video game-style brainteasers; you'll be pushing plenty of crates onto pressure-sensitive switches, and collecting gears to start up rusty, archaic machinery. It's not in any way unique, and the puzzles repeat a bit too often; even Erica will occasionally groan when spotting yet another locked chest. But there's a definite thrill in slowly opening up this huge building and finding all of its creepy secrets.
Aside from puzzles, the house is also filled with monsters, and it's here that Til Morning's Light really feels unique. Instead of standard third-person combat, the game uses a sort of rhythm game-like mechanic where you're swiping and tapping the screen at specific times in order to attack. It's a bit weird at first — and it's very similar to the Nintendo DS music game Elite Beat Agents — but it's also perfectly suited for a touchscreen, and it really helps break up the exploration. It only really falls flat during the boss battles, which force you to solve puzzles and battle weird monsters at the same time, creating an often frustrating mess.
But while its core gameplay will feel pretty familiar to anyone who has played a third-person adventure game, it's the fact that it works, and works so well, on mobile that's impressive. The scale of Til Morning's Light is bigger than just about anything else on a smartphone: not only is the world huge, but the dialogue is fully voice acted, and the graphics look fantastic. There's an extras section where you can read about monsters and look at concept art, and there are other nice touches, like the way Erica's look changes as the night takes its toll on her; her clothes get torn and dirty, and at one point she loses her jacket. One of my favorite things in the game is just how cool the lighting looks, which makes pointing your flashlight around a darkened room an adventure in itself.
Til Morning's Light was made in collaboration between Amazon Game Studios and Wayforward Technologies (the studio behind games like Ducktales Remastered and A Boy and his Blob) as part of a concerted effort to bring premium, non free-to-play games back to mobile. Amazon Game Studios VP Mike Frazzini previously told The Verge that the lack of these games was "a gap that existed that we could potentially fill." Til Morning's Light isn't the first game released through the program, but it's definitely the biggest and most ambitious so far. You can check it out for yourself now on both iOS and Amazon Fire devices, for $6.99.