The Excavation of Hobb’s Barrow is an old-school point and click adventure game from Wadjet Eye Games that just released on PC and Mac for Steam and Good Old Games for $13.49. For those that don’t know, the phrase “old-school and point and click adventure” means that it’s likely heavily inspired by the legacy of adventure games of yore from the 1980s and early 1990s like Maniac Mansion, the Secret
It might be low on graphics, but it’s extremely high on gameplay and atmosphere as the very beginning of the game throws you into a foreboding mood as you take control of a Victorian dressed woman holding an umbrella in a downpour late at night walking past castle walls while the sound of a man coughing can be heard. After a strange exchange with the man with the cough, the woman goes inside the castle and the title credits and the sound of lightning crashing rolls.
In ‘Excavation’ you play Thomasina Bateman, a never married woman who receives a strange letter urging her to excavate Hob’s Barrow in the small village of Bewlay (Great Britain). She’s a barrow digger and takes a train into town while writing a letter to her mother explaining to her that she will never believe the events that happened to her that night.
Then when the train arrives, the game truly begins and we relive whatever it is that happened to her. She was supposed to meet a man at the local inn the day she arrived, but he mysteriously never appeared and to make matters worse her assistant was supposed to arrive the next day and he never appeared either. The sense of dread is pervasive throughout the game starting with spooky music followed by rain pounding the town when she arrives, people disappearing and many many sickly scary cats appearing at night.
The game can be plowed through as this full-walkthrough video on Youtube can attest, and each conversation can be skipped through with a click of the mouse or keyboard, but the true pleasures of the game and indeed the genre in general is fully exploring your surroundings to discover the humor of the games writers and the fully engrossing story.
The items you collect along the way can be accessed at the top of the screen by moving your mouse upwards and left clicking on an item to use it, then dragging it to the next object or person you want to use it on. Yes, the game is charmingly retro and looks ripped straight out of 1989, however, the game’s dialogue is both printed on screen and fully voiced with brilliant, inventive characters that pulled me into the story. I was instantly hooked by the little town and the denizens of the Plough and Furrow Inn where everyone disappears.
If you’re someone who has longed for old fashioned adventure gaming from the days of yore you must play The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow and relish every spooky moment.
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