The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow – PC Review

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The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is a horror mystery game set in rural England during the 1800s. This point-and-click adventure tells an unsettling tale about the titular burial mound and the mystery of what lies within. The game comes from indie developer Cloak and Dagger Games (Sumatra: Fate of Yandi) and publisher Wadjet Eye Games (Primordia). Hob’s Barrow is available now on PC, Mac & Linux.

Unearth the mystery surrounding The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow if you dare…

I love a good horror story and one set in Victorian-era Northern England really called out to me. I’d love to hear what you think of Hob’s Barrow so please feel free to comment below.

The Excavation of Hob's Barrow
The titular barrow. But what lies beneath?


Hob’s Barrow is a single-player story-rich experience telling the tale of upper-class antiquarian Thomasina Bateman and the titular tumulus. The plot is delivered via narration through letters Thomasina writes to her mother after the fact. A mysterious invitation to the village of Bewley (inspired by a real town in northern England) leads Thomasina to travel there from London. Approximately set in the Victorian era, Thomasina is writing a book on UK burial mounds. However, prior to joining Thomasina folklore formed around the barrow so strongly that the people of Bewley are reluctant to acknowledge its existence. Undeterred, Thomasina presses on and layer by layer she finds her invitation wasn’t as coincidental as initially thought as the history of Hob’s Barrow is uncovered.

The plot of Hob’s Barrow is very engaging and delivers an unsettling & dark horror story. The game progresses by exploring Bewley and meeting the locals while secrets of the barrow are slowly revealed. For the most part, the dialogue was to gain information relevant to the story but some choices do lead to interesting outcomes. I found the pacing of the game very well done in building tension and a spooky atmosphere. And each scene adds a piece of the puzzle but each new answer brings two new questions.

The Excavation of Hob's Barrow
You don’t know the half of it, Thomasina.

Hob’s Barrow following a set path was great with how as the story developed new areas opened and the dynamics with NPCs in the close-knit community evolved. The downside of this being when hitting a wall the game came screeching to a halt and felt frustrating. While I enjoyed the graphics style this didn’t translate to some of the cut scenes. The character animations ended up feeling odd or silly when intended to feel scary or unsettling.

Graphics & Audio

Hob’s Barrow’s use of pixel-art graphics and 2.5D side scroller aesthetic pleasantly reminded me of old-school games. The design style gives a realistic depiction of rural England from architecture to weather. The various transitions such as day to night and town to the woods & moors contrast very well and are detailed with great effect. It runs really well aside from the occasional long loading screen. It makes exploring the area as well as cut scenes & animations feel engaging especially as the game opens up.

The sound design of Hob’s Barrow was great, well put together and going hand in hand with the game’s tone. Much like a horror film or TV show, the use of soundtrack and score or simple silence speaks volumes and was utilised very well here. From character movement to environmental sounds, it all added to the spooky atmosphere of the game. The voice acting was superbly done and felt like a small village of the time in Northern England would. The different personalities and ranges/strengths of accents were added. From our posh protagonist from London to the grumpy local of Bewley, it added another layer to the story of Hob’s Barrow.

The Excavation of Hob's Barrow
A little literal crossroads seems apt for Thomasina here.


Hob’s Barrow is a linear single-player experience and so one full playthrough does tell the main story. However, choices are peppered into the game giving some differences along the way. I noticed from the 40 Steam achievements that multiple runs of the game are needed to get all of them. I loved the story though and after seeing the big picture I’m excited to experience the story again from the beginning.

The Excavation of Hob's Barrow
Fiddler on the cairn. This isn’t even the strangest thing I’ve seen so far.

Final Thoughts

I had a great time playing Hob’s Barrow and I’m excited to play more soon. The game delivers an engaging folk horror story in 1800s England that we don’t see very much of and feels like a fresh take on the genre. Experiencing Thomasina’s story in this point-and-click adventure mystery can have its moments of frustration and unintentionally feeling silly but overall is excellent. The game looks and sounds great with the graphics & audio going hand in hand with the gameplay as well as delivering plenty of content for players.

I am delighted to give The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow the Thumb Culture Gold Award. I can’t wait to see what Cloak and Dagger Games bring out next. If you enjoyed my thoughts on Hob’s Barrow then why not click the link for my review of the interactive horror game The Quarry?


Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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