the writings of a mind

Title: Dark Fall: The Journal
Genre: Adventure
Strap: Can a one man band make anything other than a terrible crashing noise?

Itís not as easy to condemn Dark Fall to the Pit of Eternally Burning Adventure Games as you might first think. Looking upon its credentials - another The Adventure Company game, the hideous reforming of Cryoís karma, and the remarkably silly name Ė all the seasoned hackles rise on the back of this well-worn journalistís neck. But thereís something more to this effort than what I lovingly think of as "the rest".

Ok, so not much more. Youíve already seen the low score, and know that this is all a bluff. But itís not a /terribly/ low score, and in this fettered genre, thatís quite an accolade.

Dark Fall is the work of a single man Ė a man called Jonathan Boakes. From the biog on his website, it seems that at the age of thirty, he has already tried his hand at writing and photography, and in the last few years has applied these influences to the world of self-created computer games. Born in the British countryside, his inspirations seem to emerge from the wilds of nature, the degradation of old buildings, and the spooky activities of our white-sheeted friends. And all three are over-present and perhaps not correct in his Macromedia created point-n-clicker.

The story begins with a shockingly overused stalwart Ė after receiving a recorded message from your brother, you discover he has gone missing. He mentioned something about ghosts, and sounded scared, and so you rush to find him. And then the game begins with the usual non-surprise that heís nowhere to be found, although his journals have been conveniently left lying around for you to read. And read you shall, at every single turn. Despite having a ghost boy as a guide, chirpily ordering you around in a Dickensian cockney accent, the narrative is woven through that time dishonoured tradition of having four hundred thousand notes and letters left in every drawer of every room in every building.

And more frustrating than all of these tiresome traits is the gameís desperate, but redundant, attempts to be scary. You can see that itís trying to, but you can only sit awkwardly, and feel guilty for not having the energy to even pretend to be a bit unnerved.

However, there is something here, that makes it not unplayable. It possesses a charm that makes it impossible to become angered by, though sadly is never close to strong enough to win over a heart. For a one man project, itís reasonably impressive. For a ghost-story adventure game, itís as scary and consistent as weak milky tea.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Dreamcatcher
Developer: XXv Productions
Price: £20