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The Excavation of Hob's Barrow (formerly Incantamentum) - folk horror adventure set in rural Victorian England

A horse of course

Guest
Steam reviews are glowing. Last I checked, no one had a complaint. Simultaneous users is very high for a WEG title. This may not be a hit like RMI but it’s going to be very successful unless there’s a sudden influx of haters giving negative reviews.

WEG stands for "Western Erotic Game" tho
 
Joined
Oct 26, 2016
Messages
1,970
Why does she wear pants in victorian England? Is she a strong independent woman? Where's her Colt then?
seeing as we play as a woman its prob woke in some regard
I tried the demo and these were my impressions:
-Very nice graphics and scenes.
-Woke-ish vibe is present.
-Cringe & limited dialogues.
-Puzzles felt mediocre, which is the biggest problem here.

Will pick it up if on a really good sale.
 

Starwars

Arcane
Joined
Jan 31, 2007
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Location
Sweden
I just finished it and while I have a bunch of criticisms for it, I must say that I really enjoyed it overall.

-Biggest complaint I have, as with many adventure games nowadays, is that it's far too easy. Most of it *is* very logical which is definitely nice and fits well within the game, but it also doesn't feel like you're doing much for the most part. And there are some parts where I could see where the "puzzles" were going before they unfolded. Which makes some parts of the game feel more like a waste of time. It's not a huge problem within the game's scope but it makes the adventure gameplay feel very uninspired.
There is a shift towards the end where it's more puzzle-heavy but it's still very, very easy to figure out.

-The game is very dialogue heavy, that's the meat of the game I would say. You have to enjoy a lot of talking. But, the dialogue is rather nice I have to say and the voiceacting is very good. It's down to earth, quite believable and mostly charming. It's a game and setting that could very easily feel boring instead but it hits a nice tone, feels pretty realistic overall (again, within the scope of what the game is about).

-The main character is close to woke I suppose, and it does clash slightly with the game's atmosphere. There were a few parts where I feared the game would go into groan-territory with it but it never gets too annoying I think. Like the rest of the game, it doesn't really go over the top. And with a great voice-actress, the main character ends up feeling pretty charming, though I wouldn't call her interesting.

-The story is pretty cool. It's not perfectly paced and there are some parts I have issues with. Main character has a backstory which you experience in small flashbacks. While this all ties in to the main story overall, these flashbacks still felt uninteresting and interrupting to me. It does all come together but I greatly preferred the present mystery of the story. The supernatural horror aspect of the game isn't completely succesful to me though, and there was a part of the game where I ended up feeling that it all felt rather more charming than "creeping unease". I think it could've upped the tension a bit. Some more gameplay during evening/nighttime in the game would've been nice for example, I kept wishing for that.
The pacing isn't perfect. And the horror scenes themselves weren't great for me either. But, it is an interesting journey still given the contrast between most of the game and the more supernatural parts. It does give those parts of the game a certain oomph which I liked.

-The atmosphere and tone of the game was great I think. The visuals help, which to me really sold the setting of the game. And again, very down-to-earth and realistic for most of the game. Like a low-magic adventure. The music is also fantastic for the most part.

Not exactly what I was hoping for but for the low price this was fantastic I think. A very relaxing, charming little horror-ish mystery. Though definitely stay away if you're looking for tough puzzles.
Definitely hope to see more from the people who made this.
EDIT: Just saw now that they've done games prior to this one. Cool.
 
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Infinitron

I post news
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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth


Some more "behind the scenes" bits from our voiceover session! Here's Natalie Winter playing Mildred Walker (an enigmatic old lady) and Douglas (an energetic young kid). Also, I briefly attempt a scouse accent.
 

toughasnails

Guest
-The main character is close to woke I suppose, and it does clash slightly with the game's atmosphere. There were a few parts where I feared the game would go into groan-territory with it but it never gets too annoying I think. Like the rest of the game, it doesn't really go over the top. And with a great voice-actress, the main character ends up feeling pretty charming, though I wouldn't call her interesting.
My take on this.

The game actually legit subverts your expectation for once. The drunkard that hits on you at the start turns out to be one your few real allies and a legit good man, other characters you'd expect to be shown in the bad light like the priest or that xenophobic bearded old man end up looking good in the hindsight, one is a nature loving scholar and for the other MC comments how he hides a good heart behind his demeanor and both actually tried to do you well by trying to get you to leave near the end. You can play a "boss bitch" towards all of them with you dialogue choices but it would turn that you would be shitting on few people who aren't working against you. Interestingly some of the characters that seemed open minded and progressive, like that constantly cheery guy from the house near the post storage, turn out to be involved with the cult that lured you in. And of course the MC's whole attitude of being a rational "woman of science" ends up working against her.
 

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
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Messages
97,726
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth


Another behind the scenes VO video! Here's Sally Beaumont (AKA Fia in Old Skies) as the maid Rebecca, brittle Mrs. Bateman, and bored teenager Betty. Also, an object lesson in why Dave Should Not Do Accents.
 

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
97,726
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth


The best thing about working with child actors is the look on their face when they realize they get to say a bad word. Anyway, here's Rose Jenkinson voicing young Jane and Thomasina-as-a-child. Thanks for being such a great sport, Rose!
 

Jvegi

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
5,131
The game is promising, for a modern experience that is, but I'm bothered by the protagonist vocalizing all her thoughts. She won't shut up about how she feels and what she should do. Seems like lazy writing to me, not letting the world and events communicate that stuff to the player. But apparently that's what modern games do. I don't play many of them.
 

EyesOnYou

Literate
Joined
Nov 9, 2022
Messages
9
Haven't played this one, but I was impressed much by "Football Game" of same developer. Which was pretty surreal and had gorgeous soundtrack.
 

Jvegi

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
5,131
I was dissapointed, but 6-7 is fine. The fetch quest puzzles dragged the experience down, but the finish was strong. And puzzle heavy, which was quite fun.
 

ValeVelKal

Arcane
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
1,605
The game has a good atmosphere, but it is slow, easy, and when you reach the Barrow itself it makes no sense. The main character carries an idiot ball, too, since she knew the "blood" thing was a trap from the drunkard.
 
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GandGolf

Augur
Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
858
Location
Rivendell
The game has a good atmosphere, but it is slow, easy, and when you reach the Barrow itself it makes no sense. The main character carries an idiot ball, too, since she knew the "blood" thing was a trap from the drunkard.
You may want to spoiler that.
 

Erebus

Arcane
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
4,782
The puzzles are definitely too easy. Some of them at least require you to use your brain a bit, but most have very obvious solutions.

The atmosphere is nice. The game is fairly short and the plot's not very complicated (especially since the first two parts consists of delays that seem avoidable), but the ending is fairly memorable.

The main problem with it is that the heroine acts exactly as if the drunk guy hadn't revealed to her that the entire thing is a trap. Even if she's desperate to help her father, it makes her look rather dumb.
 

ds

Cipher
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I think the ending is pretty meh - not because it is a "bad" ending but because throughout the game I felt that it hinted to something more interesting than just
inexplicable eldritch horror
or as Thomasina would have said: hogwash. That the game tells you at multiple points that things will go horrible and then before the excavation outright reveals the plot both to both the player and to the protagonist only makes it more disappointing that that is actually how things turn out without any kind of unique twist, without Thomasina at least trying to change her fate, and without a good motivation why she would push ahead despite the warnings besides wanting to do anything to save her father, who at this point has been a vegetable for 25 years and surely can wait a bit more for Thomasina to take a more cautious approach. I guess you could claim that the game subverted my expectations of it having an interesting story but I don't feel I should be applauding that.

That said, I really like the setting and sense of mystery the game manages to build before the final act as well as the cast of interesting characters. The art also feels unique and is fittingly bleak.

Perhaps a minor point, but one of the generic failure lines when trying to use an item with someone feels out of place considering the setting: "I'm not sure they would be interested." - having two versions of that line wouldn't have blown the voice budget.

Puzzles are quite straightforward and most of the earlier parts of the game are spend moving between screens to fetch whatever people ask you to get for them rather then trying to figure out what you need to do. There are also a number of points where Thomasina automatically shows an item to someone or a conversation option appears to show an item rather than requiring the player to think of doing so. Both the puzzle density and complexity increases once you enter the barrow (to the point that it almost feels like a different game) but they still remain easy enough not to mess with the pacing of the final stretch.

The game does take control away from the player a bit much fore my tastes - either for cutscenes where Thomasina walks without your input or unskippable pauses before/after interacting with something. Nothing egregious but I also see no reason for making the game less interactive and less responsive.

Backgrounds of scrolling screens moving at a slower speed for the parallax effect is a nice touch but the implementation is less than perfect with the background not moving as smoothy as the foreground and in some cases having a noticeable horizontal seam line between the foreground and background, e.g. above the fence at the farm and in the middle of the screen at the cairn (but only towards the end when things fog up, earlier the background and foreground are separated around the contours of the hills as they should be), which made this feature more distracting than it should have been.
 

Berekän

A life wasted
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I liked the ending, just not so much the execution.

I liked "losing" and having such a bleak ending when today it's uncommon to not have at least a good ending. My concern's what's been already pointed out multiple times, you've been explicitly told a hundred times that things are going to be bad, and not only by the drunkard / priest but by your own father in his journal, and the only motivation that you might have is a fleeting mention that you father might be saved, but Thomasina barely comments about this, and we don't see her struggling at any point.

Would've been nicer to have her at least explicitly mention that she does not care about the consequences and wants to help her father or that she's being driven to continue by forces outside her control, because as far as it goes she just ignores every sign telling her this is a terrible idea, and goes from zero to cultist in the span of an afternoon with little acknowledgment.
 

JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Finished this just now, pretty enjoyable. Alienman told me the ending is shit so I expected something worse than what I got. I found it kinda fitting to the whole folk horror vibe, although Thomasina did act like a complete retard in the last chapter.

There were so many warning signs that things would go wrong. The friendly drunkard telling her about the plot. Everyone refusing to tell her anything about the barrow cuz it's dangerous. The priest and the grumpy old man telling her not to go on the last day. Her father's journal carrying a bad vibe, warning of things in the barrow. The fact that the barrow has been sealed so heavily. Her experiences in the barrow itself, until she reaches the end. When she finds the tablet on the floor in the final chamber, where she performs her blood sacrifice, the fucking tablet itself, which was written by her father whom she adores, contains a clear warning that whatever her father sealed in there by his blood should never be un-sealed. At this point, at the very latest, she should have known she has been tricked into working for an evil entity.

I think the bad ending works out well for a horror story, but the way she got there could be changed to make it more effective. Give her some doubts at the end, but make it so she is forever sealed inside the barrow unless she frees the ancient deity. So you can have two endings: she accepts her fate and is buried alive in the barrow, or she frees the dark deity in order to free herself. That would have been a lot more effective: make her realize her mistake at a point where it's too late to turn back and the endings range from really shit (unleash demonic deity) to just plain shit (starve to death in an ancient barrow).

The way it is now it just feels like she's fucking stupid and completely oblivious to even the most obvious signposting. I'm surprised she managed to get out at the right train station, considering how incapable she is of reading signs.

Despite that, I found the final day to be the strongest gameplay-wise. The mystery is in full play at that point, and the section is the most heavily puzzle-focused after two in-game days of mostly dialog.
 

Dexter

Arcane
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
15,655
I really liked it overall. Impressive pixel graphics and fitting enough background music with a quite unique "queer" atmosphere of a rural English village in the moors. Although I could have done with more folklore/folk tale stuff in the final act and less Supernatural phenomena. Otherwise it was really "down to earth" with characters having solid believable backstories, a sense of place and daily routines in the game world and overall sensible dialogue which isn't "afraid" to tell you as a player off and makes you want to learn more about the the village of Bewlay and its inhabitants. The puzzles were largely logical and straightforward, if not outright obvious most of the time and you are never really stuck.

Maybe not exactly a mind-blowing mystery of epic proportions, but that's also fine every now and then. Characters and situations got quite a few laughs out of me especially early on, even though it doesn't seem the kind of game for that. There were a lot of changes based on the time of day as you progress with the story instead of having "static" screens with the same objects and characters where nothing changes and instead you just open up more areas with more puzzles. There were just enough screens to make this work well over the 3 day story arc. Although the game is entirely linear, things do change somewhere else almost every time you solve a puzzle and advance the story.

The best parts were the exploration, strange characters and folklore around fairies and goblins, and the not-too-supernatural mysteries at the beginning of a missing Leonard Shoulder that sent you the letter, disappearing men at night and why the town folk don't want to talk about specific things like the titular Hob's Barrow and Thomasina's strange encounters with (woodland) critters.

The flashbacks on the other hand got a bit annoying after a while and the "map" should have also been a real map and not a text list.

There were plenty of hints in the first two days that Leonard Shoulder and James Panswyck were up to something untoward (and that either Shoulder or Tillett was the "third man" of the expedition 25 years ago) and the two of them also had those weird stones with the half-moon hanging in front of their houses. But at no point did Miss Bateman apparently want to rethink her approach and stop moving forward, not even when all her dig workers abandoned her and she was left alone crawling around a creepy barrow with no light.

Not entirely sure about the ending and if everything depicted was supposed to be real or not, a lot of the purple scenes could be part of some sort of hallucination or fever dream, although some of the scenes with Leonard and James at the end and the backstory about Arthur Tillett and his wife indicates that it might all have been real. There's still a few layers of plausible deniability around her dreams/seeing things that aren't real and suddenly waking up alone in front of the barrow or the hallucinogenic properties of the flowers that were used on the Milkman being everywhere inside.

Another interpretation of some of the scenes could be that it was metaphor for Thomasina choosing ambition and career over family and religion and ending up a doomed crazy cat lady. :lol:
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agris

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to anyone that played it: how appropriate is the game for a young kid? swearing, nudity, violence, that kind of thing. my kid has enjoyed adventure games in the past, and the fact that this one is fully vocalized helps.
 

jfrisby

Cipher
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Grab the Codex by the pussy Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Shadorwun: Hong Kong
to anyone that played it: how appropriate is the game for a young kid? swearing, nudity, violence, that kind of thing. my kid has enjoyed adventure games in the past, and the fact that this one is fully vocalized helps.

There's a lot of other adventure games I'd pick before this, depending on age. I don't remember swearing really, but it's probably as dark as Gabriel Knight or Dagger of Amon Ra - I played those around age 10-12 and liked them.
 

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