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BARROW HILL The Dark Path is the sequel to the 2006 game Barrow Hill and it returns to the scene of the supernatural crimes that occurred way back then.

It has been 10 years since the 'Barrow Hill Incident', a terrible, unsolved mystery, when several people lost their lives to the force inside the hill. No-one knows what really happened, except you. Something to do with the ancient standing stones, the old Druid Circle. It was built by pagans, millennia ago, for purposes that we can only guess at. Until now. 

It is the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are equal, exactly as they were a decade ago. You have returned to the scene of the crime, seeking answers. Could such an event happen again? What trials and offerings await? As you leave the car behind, and step into the dark world of the old woods, you wonder whether you seek the truth, or you are following the Dark Path. 

Joining you on your adventure, once again, is kooky amateur late-night DJ Emma Harry. She is worried for her teenage friend, Mia, who has been behaving suspiciously. Emma has heard rumours of rituals, ceremonies and Devil Worship near the old Barrow Hill Service Station. Could Mia be involved? She may have good reason, Mia's brother Ben was among the missing 10 years ago. Is time repeating itself? 

Features - 

It is equally as graphic and mind-twisting as the original as well as equally as frustrating as any point and click style adventure. It is artistically excellent and beautiful illustrated and detailed but once again it leaves the player with scene after gorgeous scene where nothing happens and nothing is available for you to manipulate.

 
You can save your game and return to it later, in fact it's probably a good idea to keep leaving and returning, rather like doing a crossword puzzle where you struggle on a clue so you put it down and when you come back the answer simply pops into your head. Here you can sit and study the scenes for too long and overthink the puzzle. I would like to have been able to pick up and/or move some of the objects and items even if they did nothing to propel me through to a new aspect or portion of the game, but having already ridden that high horse so many times already I have to be objective rather than subjective of the whole point and click game genre.

 

From the getgo this game goes straight into the supernaturally eerie with dark stormy skies, a crashed car, a shrine to the dead and missing of an event that occurred ten years ago and nobody around except the interrupted radio voice you know to belong to Emma Harry. There is no instilled sense of urgency, far from it in fact. Everything you do is at a deliberate pace never feeling the need to rush from location to location.

Searching each location can be a bit of a chore, for example when you find a pyramid of rocks you have to remove them one at a time by clicking on them, then if you click away for a second they are all piled back up again. Is this supposed to be weird and unusual or just sloppy programming ? Having found a catapult I began firing it without picking up any pebbles and then later I found some pebbles. I honestly expected not to be able to fire the catapult when I found it, weird!

During play at some point you will discover a memory card, the first one I found was in a shoe, but it wasn't until I found a couple more and tried to use them on the laptop I found (but couldn't pick up) that I realised the idea was to collect all of the memory cards which you find dotted around in some quite unusual places. It seems that the memory cards belong (or belonged) to Mia and as play continues you discover more about her, Ben (her brother) and the events of 10 years back.

 

It is one of the hardest of the point and click games I have played in a long while. There are no obvious hints or clues and no similar button to press to get you into or out of a dodgy situation. There are ominous giant mushrooms in abundance in Barrow Woods as well as ferns and numerous trees in all varieties, all of which look real and none of which can be utilised within the game.

 

Like many games of this genre once you make a breakthrough and hit on a hot spot you can carry on for some while on a roll, finding this clue, collecting that new piece for your inventory, discovering more information about the events of ten years ago, and then you get stuck again. I checked online and there are several walkthrough's available but be careful you look for one for the Dark Path as there are many that cover only the first game. I found this one (http://www.gameboomers.com/wtcheats/pcBb/BarrowHillDarkPathOfficial/BarrowHill2official.htm) which I admit to using but funnily only after I had completed an area (in my mind) and wanted to be sure I hadn't missed anything important. I can see me going back to it later as this is a maze of a game and if you head away from an area and then discover you have forgotten something it can be a nightmare maneuvering your way back.

 

The game relies on lots of eerie locations, supernatural and unnatural scenes and scary videos which have been filmed in the Blair Witch mode and they actually work in keeping the player intrigued and interested. There are many supernatural games available for the home computer and each of them has something to offer. Barrow Hill The Dark Path puts the player in the role of the detective without the gun and badge, and offers more of the same and then some.  It seems that almost every move forward offers you another route, at least visibly, but the parameters of the game prevent you from taking the next step; even though you can see the road in front of you, you can't travel it.

Many of the scenes, especially of the woods, are dark and gloomy and then you have the park map that makes everything look bright and cheerful, I love the contrast of planning a possible pleasant walk by viewing the map and then experiencing the reality. I also found it amusing and totally realistic that a red Telephone Box in the middle of nowhere actually has a working telephone and even more surprisingly a working inner light.

 

A good point and click game for players who enjoy this genre of challenge and who are into supernatural weirdness.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015