The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow, one of 2022’s most criminally overlooked games has a new home on the Nintendo Switch. While indeed not the most prolific point-and-click adventure of the year (that title falls to Return to Monkey Island), hopefully, this version helps the game garner attention. It is, after all, a delight of an experience. Yes, I found this to be true even on the Switch.
The game’s adventure follows an Antiquarian by the name of Thomasina Bateman. Set in Victorian England, she travels by train to the small countryside town of Bewlay. Much of Bateman’s work uncovering artefacts has her exploring barrows (large mounds of earth and rock hanging over the dead’s resting ground). So much so that she has begun working on a book all about these barrows across England. Bewlay is home to Hob’s Barrow, where the root of the game’s mystery lies. Within the village, and the depths of the barrow itself, harrowing revelations and ties to the past are to be uncovered.
It’s no secret that point-and-click games aren’t necessarily best played on a console. Cursors in video games are always far more clunky to control with an analog stick than a mouse and limited amount of keybinds on your keyboard. The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow relatively makes do with this obstacle. For instance, players can snap between points of interest by pressing on the joycons’ D-pad. This quickly became the preferred method of navigation, using this to transport to other screens and environments or objects of interest, rather than either too slowly (or too quickly) navigating the game’s cursor. On top of that, a quicksave is available at any time with a press of ZR and another of the face buttons allows for highlighting of all the interactive objects in an area. An entirely smooth experience in this regard.
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow also works on the Switch as it is a page-turner of a mystery. I played through the game solely on handheld, in bed and over a number of nights. It’s an authentic telling of Victorian England, accompanied by strikingly detailed pixel art that reels you in. The experience too can be experienced like fine literature, taking only a handful of hours to complete.
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch. For a more detailed review of the game as a whole, we highly recommend checking out Edie’s review from last year.