Barrow Hill: The Dark Path (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 25.10.2016

Review for Barrow Hill: The Dark Path on PC

In Barrow Hill: The Dark Path, the player is put into the shoes of a survivor. They've arrived at Barrow Hill, the site of a tragedy that occurred ten years ago. Many people were killed, and the government covered it up, placing the blame on toxins or some other nonsense. The truth is out there, but only those who witnessed the horror and survived know about it. Now, it's the Autumn Equinox, and the rumours of druidic circles, witches, and pagan rituals are swirling. There's also the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, the little sister of somebody who was lost in the previous event. It's up to the survivor to find her, and prevent another tragedy from occurring.

As is usual for point-and-click adventure games, Barrow Hill: The Dark Path involves a trek through multiple scenes, each housing important clues or items that can be used to solve puzzles. The user interface is crude but effective, relying entirely on mouse-driven controls. The pointer helpfully changes to a magnifying glass, arrow, or toolset. These indicators are welcome, since it's not always obvious where the survivor is supposed to go, or what they should investigate. At least, unlike most adventure games, there's an understandable explanation for why the protagonist would dig through the trash, just for a tin can.

It's important to take notes in this game. While Barrow Hill isn't massive, jotting down anything that looks interesting, will result in less back & forth trips. Being able to draw is helpful, as well, since a number of puzzles rely on symbols. Thankfully, a handy book found early on will make things easier to comprehend. There are a few instances where other visitors to Barrow Hill will call. It's worth paying attention to them, because they'll give players an idea of what to do next. It's not immediately obvious, and the game doesn't provide a checklist that tracks any and all progress, so someone might ignore these calls and then wonder: "What do I do now?"

The world building is great. There's a lot of backstory to sift through, along with letters, cards, newspaper articles, and even a website or two. All of this information not only helps keep the game interesting, but it also serves as a fine introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about Celtic myths and legends. The later puzzles are rewarding for players who take the time to appreciate the details, no matter how minor they seem.

Screenshot for Barrow Hill: The Dark Path on PC

Overall, the presentation is a mixed bag. The landscapes are nicely rendered, and there are some remarkable visuals. However, the character models are very low budget, and they look jarringly inconsistent with the environments. Speaking of inconsistent, this game also has real actors, photos of actual people, and even a few FMV scenes. It's a rather strange look, but understandable. It might have been too hard to convincingly animate the few CG models for certain sequences. While the look is slightly off-putting, it evokes a bit of charm. Although, it is annoying that the graphics don't upscale. Playing at any resolution higher than the default causes the game to run in a window. In full screen, this results in large borders.

The music is well done, and the effects fit the atmosphere, but the voice acting can get really bad. DJ Emma Harry - who apparently plays herself in the game - does a decent enough job. There are a few other minor characters that perform admirably, as well. Mia, one of the main characters, sounds a little disinterested, but she's not nearly as bad as Olly. Olly is a nerdy wannabe actor, and he sounds ridiculous, sort of like a cross between Peter Pettigrew and Roger Rabbit. His incessant whining is reason enough for anyone to wish ill things upon him. He's supposed to be a coward, but the voice actor probably took it too far.

In fairness, having goofy characters doesn't really negatively affect the tone. This can be considered a horror game, but the humorous moments work as they should. They keep everything from coming off as a little too serious. Furthermore, there aren't any fail states. In other words, the protagonist can't die, nor will they fail in solving the mystery, provided the player doesn't give up. This is both a plus and a minus. It's easier to focus on the puzzle solving, but there is less at stake. However, it's impossible to come up with moments where death scenarios would actually work, so it's a wash.

Screenshot for Barrow Hill: The Dark Path on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

As far as the horror genre is concerned, Barrow Hill: The Dark Path is very quaint. It was made by a small team, who didn't have much of a budget to work with, but it's clear that they invested a lot of passion into their game. This adventure doesn't have a lot of hand holding, but the puzzles are mostly sensible, and even consistent with the lore. On the other hand, it's a little too easy to overlook certain clues, wandering in the forest gets dull, and it could have used a little more polish. Most of the serious bugs were ironed out, but there's still the occasional oddity, such as a screwdriver mysteriously appearing in one's inventory. Maybe a witch put it there. Who knows?

Developer

Shadow Tor Studios

Publisher

Iceberg

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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