Barrow Hill Hands-On Preview (PC)

Barrow Hill
Developer: Shadow Tor Studios
Publisher: Got Game Entertainment (USA)/Lighthouse Interactive (Europe)
Genre: Adventure
Systems Released On: PC
Release Date 09/09/06 (US), 9/30/06 (DVD)

I can’t pass up a spooky oriented adventure game. The non-English version of Barrow Hill has supposedly been out for months, but everything I’ve read, including commentary from Shadow Tor, says it doesn’t come out until September. Oddly enough, Europe gets a DVD version, and the US gets a CD-Rom version.

The video game Barrow Hill, not to be confused with the actual Engine Shed Society in England bearing the same name, is a tale of Archaeology and why sometimes it’s better to let the past lay undisturbed after centuries of rest. One could say the premise is similar to the “Muummy’s Curse” or King Tut.

Barrow Hill plays like the typical adventure game. It’s all point and click with puzzles to solve and items to interact with. The focus is on simplistic gameplay but amazing detail to story and graphics. Although the demo I got my hands on is only about five minutes of gameplay, I was amazed at how much story the game managed to pack into that small time period. Granted, it all came from reading the journal of a hippie, but that journal contained more plot than most video games have in their entire play period.

The graphics too were simply stunning. Realistic and beautiful, I was unable to take my eyes of the screen. I would look at every little detail, amazed at how good the game looked. The graphics reminded me a lot of the original Dark Fall but thankfull without annoying little British boy ghost.

The mood is eerie and unsettling. The lack of any real music or sound except for footsteps, creaking floors, and hooting owls shows that the game is focusing on terror rather than cheap scares or horror. It’s spooky and Shadow Tor really seems to be focusing on a realistic ambience rather than an over the top spookfest.

The playable demo of Barrow Hill left me quite excited for the game. Of course it was only five minutes long and there are many games where the release version of the game left me under-whelmed compared to my preview/demo experiences. I have a great deal of faith in Shadow Tor though since their web page gives the visitors a chance to learn about the folklore and history this game is founded on.

http://www.barrow-hill.co.uk/ should be checked out by those interested. You can view trailers, make postcards,a nd even download your own copy of the playable demo. Barrow Hill is scheduled for a mid-September release, and will most likely have a very limited print run in the States, so pre-order while you can! Check back with Inside Pulse Games in a few weeks and I’ll have a review of the final copy for you.