Game

Review of The Excavation Of Hob’s Barrow (Switch eShop)


The Excavation Of Hob's Barrow Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

‘Ey up, adventure fan! Are you yearning for a grave robber prison escape reminiscent of Indiana Jones? But do you want it set in Yorkshire, trading incredible Incas ziggurats for drizzling moors? Well, we have the game for you!

Excavating Hob’s Barrow Put your click finger in the place of a Thomasina Bateman, itinerant archaeologist and author. The book she is compiling is a survey of tombs in England – burial graves. The newest piece of land depicted in this fascinating book is the game’s famous Hob’s Barrow, on the outskirts of the homely Yorkshire village of Bewlay.

And Bewlay is definitely the game’s shining star — or the game’s gray skies if you will. Its muted nuances become richer as fog and rain subtly filter through the scenes, as night begins to fall, and as darkness descends. The lone train line connecting Bewlay to the world is suspected by most locals – Thomasina too, visiting because she’s from London, with her slick accent and breeches. All the locals are brought to life by excellent voice acting throughout, avoiding the pitfalls of speaking with a Yorkshire accent.

The Excavation Of Hob's Barrow Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

From the very first moment, Hob’s Barrow presented his work with a classic, low-budget thriller style. Somber scenes with dark, gloomy tones are cut continuously from scene to scene. The different flavors of silence moved from one to the other amazingly. There is silence demarcated by the chirping of birds, the silence of the forcefully overproduced repetitive winds blowing into an empty train station, and the silence of a music track. The monotonous electron is surreptitiously erected.

These sound layers are accompanied by a projection of suspiciously quiet vignettes that pop across the screen with a nonstop rhythm as if the byproduct of an evil, unseen, unstoppable machine: a sudden, clear close-up of a painful, intoxicated, unblinking face as the shadow swoops over it; innocent children play with perfectly normal dolls, their harmless laughter echoing through the forest from all directions; a sheep. Everything about the opening act teased us perfectly, with one toe always daringly dipping into the twilight zone. Are these critters as sleazy and gruesome Yorkshirefolk as they seem or just harmless zombies? Can’t say and we’re not sure we want to know.

But the strength of the game’s framing device is that it pulls you along whether you’re brave enough to uncover Hob’s Barrow’s secrets or not. Telling her story in flashback, Thomasina Bateman proves that she will carry out all of her plans and show up on the other end, though, judging from her choked voice and confused look on her face her on the title screen, she doesn’t have the happiest time.

The Excavation Of Hob's Barrow Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Unattached)

Hob’s Barrow horror created is completely perceptible. The biggest fear here isn’t a screaming vampire slamming into your face from a rickety loft, but the sudden honking of a train horn in the field. Instead, intimidation is given by implication, rumor, a combination of past events with present and future, and the result is inevitable fate. (We won’t pretend, however, that the train whistle in the field doesn’t make us jump.)

The skin part of the weird, country thriller genre that Hob’s Barrow borrows is so well produced that if it were a movie, it could almost be the recipe. However, as a game – as a way to experience those details through interaction – Cloak and Dagger Games deserves credit for dismantling and analyzing the formula before rebuilding it. in a new medium. This is really a horror movie that you can get into right away.

On that note, it’s worth pointing out the level of engagement offered here. The game is narrative and linear, unfolding its story through dialogue, voice acting, and some interactive flashbacks but no choices to make. Confusion is relatively sparse – and in the early segments when nothing is confusing, you can feel like a clickathon to continue the story.

The Excavation Of Hob's Barrow Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Luckily, though, there’s a small addition here: no quest fetching “puzzles” have been added, for example. Hob’s Barrow shows confidence in its minimal nature. As the puzzles come into play, there’s some extended logic that will have you stealthily controlling other characters in a way reminiscent of LucasArts in the early ’90s. The mid-game puzzle sequence is fair and has The structure is so good that we don’t stop to ask questions, such as the rationality of trying to steal ingredients for arthritis ointments so we can milk the goats. If a game does that, its puzzles are fine.

Unfortunately, all the hallmarks of this magical game fade away in the third act of the game. There’s nothing scarier than imagination, but shady hints of something nefarious going on at the start of the game finally surface and the mystery is diluted. The puzzles are also in the territory of enthusiasts in the endings. There are manipulations of the environment that make absolutely no sense from a narrative perspective. This pushes the game into half-funny Indiana Jones territory — a rock rolling behind my cart wouldn’t be so out of place. This mood swing feels more accidental than intentional.

Luckily, even the craziest puzzles are pretty easy to solve, so we don’t have to click back and forth without knowing what to do in the middle of the absurd. Cloak and Dagger managed to build enough momentum in the first two thirds of the game to work through the silly low-difficulty puzzles at the end and have a pretty neat landing to the story.

The Excavation Of Hob's Barrow Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Since we keep talking about “clicking”, we have to touch the controls. This is the rare Switch game that supports the mouse, which is a fun way to play. However, we didn’t miss it too much when playing handheld, as the controller implementation is great, and the touchscreen is also supported.

Conclusion

At its best, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow feels like the halcyon point-and-click days of LucasArts. Some of its puzzle sequences are engaging, immersive, and of moderate difficulty. It gets a bit messy in the third act, but not enough to reverse the excellent setting and dense plot that preceded it. Hob’s Barrow may have been lame due to its mute setting; instead, it brings loads of supernatural chills.

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