Barrow Hill Unearthing Mysteries In The English Countryside


There should be nothing more satisfying than creating your own game on a tight budget and releasing it in retail. That’s what Barrow Hill point-and-click adventure co-creators Matt Clark and Jonathan Boakes did, and they also had the help of a long List of friends and family members who gave their voice and expertise to the game. This is not only an independent production, but also a family affair. What they have created is an adventure game that makes no concessions to modern genres, avoids the full 3D engine approach and sticks to the origins of the point-and-click genre with detailed pre-rendered environments and complete mouse control. It may be old-fashioned, but some people like it that way and it’s definitely better than the uncomfortable half-house that other games have occupied.

Barrow Hill begins with idiosyncratic video footage of a car – a Volkswagen Golf station wagon for those interested- meandering through old Cornwall streets. Emma Harry from Barrow Hill Radio sends him to inform him that today is the autumnal equinox and twelve hours of darkness are coming. Shortly after this revelation, your car stops and you have to start your adventure in the secret and eternally dark Barrow Hill.

The story, which revolves around the excavation of an ancient stone monument, is surprisingly unusual and meets most of the criteria that one would expect from a game of this genre. The archaeologists who excavated the site have all disappeared, no one but you, a very frightened firefighter and Radio DJ Emma Harry. As for the plots, it has a touch of darkness, but equally, it has a lot of depth and is revealed at a comfortable pace with an abundance of reading material, puzzles and occasional cutscenes to provide information to follow.

As an old-fashioned adventure game, the interface hides a few surprises. Everything is controlled with the mouse, click in front of you, the movement is directed forward and to the sides of the screen to the left or right. When you explore areas, the cursor changes to inform you of the action you can take so that you can zoom in or use elements. The game also takes away the useful freedom of telling you when to use an inventory item and saves you the guesswork of progression. As simple as it is, it’s not without its problems, although they are more universal for the Genre than for Barrow Hill itself – trying to find small hot areas of the cursor or areas where you can zoom in or out a little painfully. This is a small review, but since many parts of the game depend on finding these “zones”, it is worth mentioning.

One thing that Barrow Hill does very well is to find a balance between difficult but logically solved puzzles. Although there are a lot of challenges, there are relatively few moments when you don’t know what to do, and even then the game invents subtle ways to point you in the right direction. The game also tries to mix things up a bit by adding “archaeological elements” to the Gameplay, although this boils down to little more than digging up objects of importance using a metal detector and a trowel.

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