A lonely roadDriving through the nighttime countryside of Cornwall, your car crashes. Shaken but unhurt, you get out and begin walking down a dark and lonely road.

Finally, up ahead, you see a gas station/motel. But it seems deserted. No one is around. A car is parked with the motor running and doors open, and items scattered around it, as though someone left in a hurry. A big hurry…

So begins Barrow Hill: Curse Of The Ancients, a spooky adventure set in modern-day England. Strange and mysterious events are unfolding. An ancient terror stalks the land, and only you can set things right again. It won’t be easy.

This is a pure adventure in the classic style. It is very much object-oriented. Finding and using items is a large part of the game. Along with the solitude and lack of people interaction, it is reminiscent of early adventures such as Zork and Enchanter.

The gas stationUnlike those games, however, careful note-taking is crucial to success. There is a wealth of information in the form of books, journals, reports, flyers, audio diaries and other material.

Using this information and a fair amount of heavy thinking, you must piece together the story of what happened, and what must be done to (dare I say it?) save the world.

The view is first-person, but not fully 3D. Turning is by quarters, and movement one step at a time. There is no way to look up or down, except in some close-ups.

Barrow Hill is point-and-click, with the cursor changing to indicate possible actions: a pointing finger to move forward or turn sideways, a hand holding a wrench for using objects on other objects, a magnifying glass for close-ups, and an open hand for taking items or using them as-is. Clicking the mouse performs the action.

You have two inventories: one at the top of the screen for “use anywhere” items, and one at the bottom for “use in a particular place” objects. Both are invisible until you move the cursor to the top or bottom of the screen.

Despite the simplicity of the interface, this is no simple game. Much has to be done in and around the gas station, as well as several other locations, few of them well-lit.

Abandoned carMoving around in the dark can be difficult, and it’s all too easy to miss an area for close-up or a place to turn off and go in a new direction.

Also, items can be missed in some close-ups if the cursor isn’t moved carefully all over the view. This happened to me several times in the game.

The problem is compounded by not every close-up having an item to find or something to do or read. For much of the game, you can have that unpleasant nagging feeling of having missed something somewhere, and you could be right.

For all that, the puzzles are fair, if occasionally obscure. No wild leaps of illogic are necessary to solve any of them. But you can be easily stumped if you haven’t paid attention to the information presented, and considered it carefully.

Graphically, Barrow Hill is minimalist but decent, as you can see from the screenshots. While darkness sometimes (well, many times) obscures what you’re looking at, the visuals are acceptable.

Saving is one of the game’s big weak spots. You have only five positions. That is unsatisfactory in these days of large drives. Worse, the saves are named automatically, with the current location, a thumbnail of it, and the real-world date and time. There is no excuse for such a poor method of saving.

Mysterious stonesIn terms of horror, eerieness and mounting tension are well-maintained. Of course, night is a factor in that, as well as being, well, alone in the dark (ahem). However, you also know that something is out there.

It breaks through a wall to get Ben, the night manager, locked in his office. You receive frantic phone calls from Emma, who runs the local radio station, about something prowling outside her trailer. Odd and sinister rustlings seem to follow you as you blunder about in the dark. Ominous music adds to your growing uneasiness. You begin to wonder if there will be time enough to get everything done.

Overall, despite some flaws, Barrow Hill is a good adventure. If you’re looking for a game in the old style, with plenty of puzzles to solve, and have the necessary patience to deal with note-taking, darkness, and finding those obscure objects, then this one is for you.miniscorp