3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Decent adventure game with notable detractions,
This review is from: Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle - PC (Video Game)
"Barrow Hill" is a decent point-and-click adventure game that has great atmosphere and sound effects but a lousy storyline and less-than-stellar moral message. The game is relatively short but has some good creep-out moments and fairly challenging puzzles. Despite the lackluster graphics (at least compared to titles like "Myst Revelation"), the game creates a truly chinning sense of atmosphere. This is a significant accomplishment considering the interface is not panoramic but point-and-click. The sound effects and music do a lot to aid the tension, and the settings themselves are truly magnificent. You can tell that they were well thought out. For example, the phone booth in the middle of the woods, casting yellow light on the dark branches, is truly a nice touch, as is the row of electric lights leading up the hill to the barrow. There are numerous moments when you are genuinely creeped out.
Another good aspects of "Barrow Hill" is that, unlike "Scratches" and many of the "Myst" games, the puzzles are not designed for game players with a genius-level IQ. In other words, they tend to make logical sense and don't force you to consider ridiculous solutions (like "Scratches" routinely does). The inventory system helps a lot with this. Whenever you need to use an object in a given area, an icon appears indicating so. There are some puzzles where you have to use your imagination, and I found myself resorting to a walkthrough several times, but overall the puzzles are medium difficult. They're challenging enough to keep you interested, but not so challenging that you pitch your computer out the window.
Now to the negative, and unfortunately there is quite a bit. The story starts out well but soon starts a nose dive. Basically, you end up getting an earful of New Age mysticism mixed with a good dose of environmentalism paranoia. At first I thought this would only be a passing mention, but it persisted and grew quite annoying. The whole notion of having to "appease" the land with offerings due to man's neglect of nature is fru-fru at best. I encourage games that have a moral message to them, but this moral message is steeped in New Age and rather ambiguous to boot. (Here's a novel idea: create a game with the golden rule being the moral message. Imagine that!). Without giving too much plot details away, the central premise of the story is almost laughable. When you actually realize what that sinister thing stalking you through the woods is, the chill factor diminishes. Also, there is some swearing present (not mentioned by ESRB), but the programmers avoided including any needless blood or violence, which is commendable.
Is the game worth a look? Sure, if you enjoy adventure games. Expect good atmosphere, music, and sound effects, but not much beyond that.