Dark Fall Review
I'd like to start out by saying I don't believe in ghosts. I think people's eyes can play tricks on them and let their imaginations run, sometimes making them think they saw something that wasn't there or mistaking something that is there for something else. Driving late at night in a rainstorm and seeing a flash of somebody standing on the side of the road is fertile ground for your deepest fears to fill in the blanks. When I was five I woke up in the middle of the night to find an old haggard woman dressed in a blood-stained nightgown dragging a chain across my room, moaning, "Death...death..." Had I been a little older and more brave I would have quickly realized this was just the farmer's wife old lady Withers, who was trying to keep me from going into the abandoned coal mine. Wait, no, that was a Scooby Doo episode. Zoinks! The point is, ghosts are only as real as we think they are.
Despite my pure skeptical eye, Dark Fall - The Journey, scared the bejezus out of me. For the easily frightened, I would not recommend playing this game as I often did, with the lights off in the dead of night, alone. Some nights after playing I honestly had trouble falling asleep, it was that creepy. One particular night, I had reached a particularly creepy area of the game (the map room for those who have played), and a saw something out of the corner of my eye moving in my room. It was dark, and my eyes were not adjusted, so of course I assumed it was a monster about to kill me. It turned out to be a door mirror, and I was just looking at myself. At that point I calmly turned off the computer and went to my TV to watch Blazing Saddles.
Dark Fall takes place in the near-empty town of Dowerton, in Southern England. I've been to Southern England, and seen many towns like Dowerton, dark and dreary, although I assume it is a purely fictional town. In Dark Fall, Dowerton is the location of an abandoned train station and hotel that your brother was scoping out for renovation before he mysteriously disappeared. You quickly learn that this town has a major history of losing its inhabitants to gruesome death after gruesome death...a situation perfect for a whole bunch of vengeful ghosts! To save you from spoilers, I will stop discussing the plot here, but trust me that there is a very rich story behind this game.
Dark Fall gets the scaring job done with fairly sub-par graphics. The movement, done in a first person view, is accomplished in the traditional Myst style of moving through a slideshow of still images. Everything is done in 640x480 resolution which makes it particularly hard to see any real detail in the game screens, which can be especially frustrating when you are pixel-hunting for a latch or a button. Despite the low resolution, most of the artwork in the game seems to be very professional and convincing. The hotel in particular is complete with three floors of rooms, all unique, and all realistically creepy. There is plenty to explore in this game, and you can usually bet you will not expect what you end up finding.