By Dalton McClain / May 27th, 2017
|Title||Barrow Hill: The Dark Path|
|Developer||Shadow Tor Studios|
|Release Date||September 22nd, 2016|
Barrow Hill: The Dark Path is a successor to the 2006 title Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle. I hadn’t played the latter title, but I was really excited to try this out. I’m a huge fan of horror games, as well as point and click games. So how do I think this game stacked up?
The graphics in this game are lacking, to say the least. The game looks like an old PC game, and the graphics are very outdated by today’s standards. I do find it weird that even though the graphics were very lackluster, the world was very intriguing and atmospheric. The design of everything has this rustic feel about it, which invokes a bit of nostalgia in me. There are even real life FMV cutscenes, which add to the feel of the game in a pleasant way. You don’t see it done too often anymore, so when you do it just feels that much better. It really felt like a shame whenever a character showed up, because they really didn’t feel like they fit into the world. It didn’t look the best, but I’d be a liar if I said that some of the design elements weren’t good.
Regardless of how it looks though, it was the gameplay that really drove the game home for me. The second that I started solving puzzles, I got a very Myst vibe from it. You have your normal clicking around, exploring, and collecting items, but you also have puzzles that you can solve. Granted a few of them aren’t very difficult to figure out, but some of them are actually pretty challenging. Nothing really felt that obtuse when solving a puzzle, and everything that you did made complete sense in the context of the world. I had a lot of fun figuring out the hard puzzles. They were a nice challenge that kept my level of interest in the game pretty high throughout.
The story is actually really good as well. Apart from learning about some Pagan practices, most of the story is entirely about the area of Barrow Hill and the characters that are there. One of the characters, Mia, gets possessed, and it’s your job to save her and her friends from becoming victims of a place already synonymous with death. While the story itself and the lore are interesting, the characters really aren’t. They all feel really one dimensional, and they don’t really get any character development. This is really sad, as I felt a lot of them had some really good potential. With all that being said you don’t really need knowledge of the other game to understand this story. Just be sure to read everything that’s scattered around to get all of it.
For the most part, the game functioned really well. The loading screens were short, it didn’t crash on me, and I only got stuck one time. The only real issue I have in this department is that the mouths seem to move out of sync in the FMV cutscenes when you’re video chatting with someone. That may have been intentional, but they really didn’t spend any time making it look real or anything. I’ve seen some of the cutscenes in the first game and they seemed to look just fine. Maybe it’s the smartphone or the better graphics, but it just seems a little off.
What the game lacks in graphics, it makes up for with its really good sound design. Horror games rely on sound and atmosphere, and this game does it wonderfully. The music and sound effects both make you feel uneasy, and have a certain air of dread about them. The voice acting is laughably bad, but that only adds to the cheesiness of the game. It didn’t hurt that there was some King Creature stuff in there, as I’m a huge fan of the band. But personal preference aside, this game does sound design better than most modern games. It’s creepy and unnerving, and I love all of it.
Overall Barrow Hill: The Dark Path is a good game. I just wouldn’t play it if you aren’t a fan of the genre. It feels like a really nice callback to an old genre of gaming that has been all but lost to time. This game isn’t without its flaws, but if you can look past the graphics and lack of character development, there’s a really good game buried under here. The atmosphere and ambiance are enticing, and it feels like you’re playing an old puzzle game. It costs about $15 normally, which I think is slightly too high for a game that only lasts four hours and has no replayability, so keep that in mind.
Also feel free to check out our YouTube, as I have done an entire playthrough of this game that will be uploaded shortly. You can find the first episode down below. We hope you enjoy!
Review copy provided by the publisher
barrow hillBarrow Hill: The Dark PathShadow Tor Studios