Let’s Find a Fossil
From the outset, it was apparent to me that this clicking adventure puzzle game will not be everyone’s cupán tea. The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow (EHB) follows an antiquated tradition laid out by its predecessors such as Zork and Grimfandango. EHB is a point-and-click narrative-driven game set in the (almost) picturesque English countryside town of Bewlay. You direct and follow the story of one Thomasina, a young 20-something city woman with a passion for excavation. She has been invited to Bewlay by a fellow archaeological enthusiast to excavate the local barrow, that being Hob’s Barrow. Delve into the mysteries of the barrow and slowly discover the secrets being hidden by the locals!
I fear that a lot of The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow’s charm would be lost on people not from the 90s or 80s. But The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow presents a classic and rustic aesthetic that, quite frankly, is difficult to come by these days. The sound design I must say is spot on, particularly with weather effects such as rain or the faint howl of the wind on the English moors. The voice acting as well was pretty on point. As an avid fan of Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, I thoroughly enjoyed the range of countryside English accents!
Throughout your playthrough, you’ll be presented with moments of what I like to call “Full Art Shock”. Any particularly striking or shocking scene will spring to life in pixelated glory across your screen, putting you squarely in the middle of the perspective of our protagonist. It is here where The Excavation Of Hob’s Barrow really makes the sale so to speak. As with every narrative-driven game, moments of plot twists and key story moments are what this game lives and dies by.
Archaeological AnarchyHowever I did find the story very predictable, and by Day 3 most people could make a fairly decent guess of the ending. But that didn’t sour the puzzles and few plot twists experienced towards the end of the game. The puzzles themselves are your bread and butter. For the first 3 – 4 hours of gameplay, you’ll be striding around town mingling with the locals and attempting to put all the proper pieces into play. For the last hour or so the puzzles get way more challenging, but never to the point of frustration. I assure you you will not have to get good or spend hours pouring over wikis to solve these puzzles! But as I said the selling point is the narrative. On that note, the game itself only lasts about 5 – 6 hours which I was a little disappointed by.
For anyone looking to steep themselves in the nostalgia of the classic point-and-click action adventure games of the 90s and 80s, look no further than The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow!