BARROW HILL: THE DARK PATH

 

Genre:  Horror Adventure  

Developer:     Bracken Tor Studios     

Publisher:    Iceberg Interactive  

Released:   September 2016             

Requirements (recommended):

  • OS: Windows 7,8,10
  • Processor: 3.0 Ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256 MB DX 9.0c compliant video card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 4 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compatible Audio

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough   Walkthrough

 

 

By flotsam

 

Barrow Hill: The Dark Path

Bracken Tor Studios

10 years after the first Barrow Hill, here we are again, back in ancient Cornish woodlands and 10 years later as far as the storyline is concerned. It is the Autumn Equinox, and nothing good ever happens in Cornish woodlands at night on an equinox.

The car radio is tuned to Emma Harry of Barrow Hill Radio, who helpfully reminisces about the past events. Ancient powers and lives lost, a cover up and people wanting answers, and pretty soon we have further mystery involving cults, a witch and missing teenagers.

Though we are 10 years on, the game looks as if it could have been made at the same time as the last one. Which isnít a criticism, rather itís an observation. There is plenty of detail in the scenes, but there is a ďflatnessĒ to them, which when paired with the generally static nature of the scenes and the character modelling, spoke to me of something older than it is. 

Which to some extent is an odd thing to say, and doesnít appropriately reflect the fact that so many adventure games these days tell their story using older, indeed very old, visual styles, yet are contemporary in very many ways. Once upon a time there was an expectation that new games would live up to the most modern graphic capability of the systems they were played on, but that is clearly no longer the case. The rise and proliferation of intelligent and thoughtful indie games is probably more responsible than anything, but it is probably also true that us adventure players are more than willing to appreciate so many more things about a game, and shape our overall impression accordingly. So while we might revel in the graphic glory of some games, it certainly isnít the be all and end all by any means.

Which leads me to reiterate that my comments on the graphics are an observation/description, not a criticism.

As you gain more access to the dilapidated garage, and ramble about the dark woods, you will find numerous items and read even more numerous notes, and emails, and files, and books. While the game isnít hard, it pays to take notes, and there are more than a couple which require you to pull together and extrapolate from what you have found out to be able to discern the solution. In the end, and on reflection, I thought that puzzle construction was probably the high point.

Navigating the woods, even with the map, did irritate me a little, and more than once I mumbled bad things as I didnít end up where I intended. But they are dark, and stumbling about and losing your bearings is probably part and parcel of Cornish woods on the equinox, so perhaps in the end the irritation says more about me.

By contrast, even in hindsight and allowing for the fact that we have ghosts and mysterious goings-on, there were some less than satisfactory triggers and subsequent results. An example is a room I could access and in which I could ostensibly see everything, except that things leapt into view, and the computer screen messaging changed once I got a particular telephone call. A bag with an item that similarly appeared in a place where it wasnít before, again having received a phone call, is another. I acknowledge that The Dark Path is not alone in these things, but when contrasted with e.g. being given a reason to search a garbage bin, as opposed to simply looking in everything, I found these types of results somewhat grating.

Before moving on, let me give you a heads up. I would have thought this was my very own ďdohĒ moment except that googling identified others with the same issue. You have a phone from the start that when it rings sounds like a phone (the old fashioned sort). Later on, you find another phone that is vibrating when you find it, in a scene accompanied by a mouth organ type tune. What I didnít realise was that the earlier phone in the inventory is swapped for the latter one, and the mouth organ tune is the phoneís ring tone. So when I heard it again, and could not do anything at the particular scene including move, I thought I had a glitch, reloaded, and tried again. I didnít realise all I had to do was answer the phone, and things would move on. Doh!!

The Dark Path is traditional point and click, everything being done with the mouse. You move from scene to scene, and what you see is what you get Ė there is no panning or free rotating when you arrive at the next scene. However in most you can turn in almost every direction, and in some a few more, and the sense of moving around and exploring an environment never feels compromised.

Icons will indicate things to do, arrows the directions in which you can move. Move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to reveal the inventory, and right click items to examine. I donít remember combining items in the inventory. Move the mouse to the top of the screen to access the menu, through which you can save at will. No dying, no timed events, no mazes.

Voices were a mixed bag, ambient sound more than adequate, and ditto the musical accompaniment  (save for the little fanfare accompanying finding an inventory item and the ring tone). The detailed plot is a little silly but did I mention itís the Cornish woods, the equinox, and witches? It isnít horrific, or scary, maybe occasionally spooky, but it nonetheless delivers eight to ten hours of solid and devoted adventuring.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz

RAM: 32GB GDDR5

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 470 8192MB

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