Dark Fall: The Journal

Banishing poltergeists on a shoestring budget.

Did I mention you get to read in DF? Cuz' you kinda do.

You read notes and letters in DF… like a lot.

This low-key adventure release from The Adventure Company isn’t the most graphically vibrant point and click affair you’ll ever play – much like the original Myst, most of your travels through the many haunted locales featured herein are rendered in still shots and the story is told mainly via text – lots and lots of text – as well as the occasional snippet of disembodied dialogue. You play the role of a reluctant sibling drawn into a haunted train station (and adjacent hotel) in Dowerton, England after your brother leaves a frantic phone message begging for help. Evil spirits are afoot and it’s your job to solve the mystery.

Dark Fall is filled with puzzles, many involving identifying patterns, with hints to these patterns usually nearby. A great deal involve discovering all sort of methods for unlocking various doors or containers. Unlike the usual ‘find this or that key’ puzzle so common in these types of games, Dark Fall instead starts out fairly open-ended and lets you explore the premises freely. There’s a lot of rummaging around, collecting obscure inventory items and experiencing the occasional scare – mainly low-tech stuff like faint whispers, flickering lights and creaking wood.

df_1You get a curious set of gadgets on your exploration. These include, for example, a theodolite machine – a tracker that detects paranormal electromagnetic activities – and of course a Ouija board. All of these are leftovers from the previous ghost hunting crew, which adds a nice twist to the game. You quickly learn how to use it to full advantage to obtain information and even to record what is transpiring at any point in time. Because many of these devices are unfamiliar, interacting with them adds to the eerie mood of the game.

This isn’t an easy adventure, with the game’s large real-estate working against itself initially. The place is huge and the game offers many points of interest that turn out to be red herrings. While the game’s focus on text unravels a fairly complex story, the amount of actual reading and note-taking you’re required to do might be a tad too much for some people. But in the long run Dark Fall is just the game you want if you’re into puzzles and intellectual challenges at the expense of high-budget production values.

System Requirements: Pentium 300 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, Windows 95/98/2000/XP

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