Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 04.11.2017

Review for Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle on PC

The mysterious standing stones at Barrow Hill have baffled scholars for centuries. Conrad Morse, the expert archaeologist, is leading an excavation in the hopes of discovering the truth behind the legend. However, he unearths something beyond understanding, a force of nature that obliterates everything in its path. A short while later, a local person of little import finds themselves stranded in the barrow. Their car won't start, and the night is seemingly endless. Either they figure out the mystery of the cursed circle, or they are certain to suffer a horrible fate. Join Cubed3 for this review of Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle, out now on PC.

In Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle, players utilise a point-and-click interface to explore the standing stones and the small tourist community surrounding them. The cursor helpfully changes shape to account for various actions, such moving to a new area, or using an item. Various notes, including those left by the famed Conrad Morse, are essential to solving the mystery. It's in the player's best interest to write down anything that looks important. Although one should bear in mind that this game loves its red herrings. A lot of objects don't serve an actual purpose, and some notes aren't really clues. Still, these otherwise meaningless interactions keep the game immersive and interesting.

As with its successor, Barrow Hill: The Dark Path, one of the puzzles is figuring out what exactly the visitor is supposed to be doing. There aren't any pop-up messages or disembodied voices that explain tasks, leaving the player to suss everything out on their own. Investigating everything for even the slightest clue might not be appealing for some, but it has its merits here. After all, it's not like the protagonist had any idea they would be trapped in a haunted barrow and at the mercy of vengeful stones. Nevertheless, though, a lot of time can be spent wandering; there aren't any worries over losing progress upon death. Yes, it is possible to suffer an untimely demise, but there's no need to load the last save, as the visitor will be instantly restored.

Screenshot for Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle on PC

Although this is charmingly low budget, it's also unfortunately dated by its low resolution graphics. A lot of necessary details are hard to make out, such as an essential item hidden among the foliage. Portions of the adventure are spent navigating a forest, and even if the player is actively looking, they will be hard pressed to find anything. The murky visuals make navigation a little more difficult than it should be. "Scanning" each area with the shape-shifting mouse cursor becomes an all too common practice.

Exploration is also surprisingly cumbersome at times; for example, getting around the gas station requires a bit more clicking around than one would like. If the visitor wants to check out the motel rooms, they can't walk straight towards them, they have to take a slight detour and work their way around. It's a lot of unnecessary traipsing about. The meaningless details are easy to notice, while areas important to progress go overlooked. A number of useful items are found in the kitchen, but people might completely miss it, because they are too busy stumbling through the nearby café.

Screenshot for Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Altogether, Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle grasps a basic understanding of the fundamentals, but it's a bit too unwieldy to be enjoyable. The visuals have not aged gracefully, and they make finding important objects a painful endeavour. Moving from scene to scene is also more difficult than it needs to be. These issues get in the way of the experience, and add needless frustration to the puzzle solving. Anyone that's interested in the premise should consider checking out the sequel, as it's a more refined and fun adventure game.

Developer

Shadow Tor Studios

Publisher

Iceberg

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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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