Thomasina Bateman is determined to follow her father’s legacy. Even if it means delving deep into the forbidden earth of Hob’s Barrow.
Released on September 28, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is a folk horror point and click adventure game, set in the moors of rural Victorian England. You follow Thomasina Bateman, an antiquarian and barrow digger.
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow story unravels slowly with the vast majority of the horror revealed in the small tragedies that pockmark human life. Thomasina begins her journey as a stranger in a small town. But in her single-minded pursuit of learning and gaining access to the elusive Hob’s Barrow she slowly unravels the lives of those who occupy the town and delves into her own past, which has set her on the road to becoming a barrow-digger. These private, tight-lipped people are all well-fleshed out characters with their own personalities and motivations and they give a certain life to the brown-stone village and the desolate moors.
The highlight of the game is certainly thawing out the cold exteriors of the villagers until they greet you warmly through the days. But the game is marked by a certain mystery. The locals refuse to answer any questions about Hob’s Barrow, and what information you do gain comes at great effort.
But as you delve deeper, you learn about the history of the town, and the subtle undercurrent of something distinctly supernatural. Even as Thomasina grows closer and fonder of the villagers, something feels amiss. As if perhaps you’re in the midst of a conspiracy that everyone knows about but you.
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Unfortunately, Thomasina doesn’t seem to see the writing on the wall. There’s backstory aplenty as to why she’s so stubborn (if not utterly obtuse) but it’s frustrating to have no choice in how the story unfolds. Which is a shame, because otherwise Thomasina is actually a very likable, fully developed character, full of determination and wit.
But in terms of gameplay, it’s an excellent point and click game. It rarely feels convoluted, though there are certainly moments where it can be a slog or where you might need to take some time to think. The weaving of character development that accompanies these quests tempered this feeling. But during the final hour or so, the game goes from your average point and click to a fairly challenging puzzle game. And even better, it fully delves into the horror we’ve been promised. The ending segment alone is worth playing the game for, as it melds familiar imagery with moments that are completely unique and fascinating, all while drenched in a very otherworldly purple.
If you enjoy point and click games, puzzles, mysteries, and a story that is Lovecraftian in both its pacing, environment, and themes, you’ll likely enjoy The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow. There’s at least 5–6 hours of content, depending on how adept you are at point and click games, and it’s well worth the $15 price tag. Find it here on Steam.