It still boggles my brain how much some of the older horror games get things just right, despite having low-rez graphics. If you don’t believe me, turn off the lights, put on some headphones, and watch this intro video for Dark Fall: The Journal.
Well, it sucked me in. Sure, you have to go into it prepared for pixel hunting forever and with a walkthrough at the ready, but if you have the self-control not to read ahead and only look when you’re well and truly stuck, that’s not entirely a bad thing. The graphics might not be anything to write home about (although I’m guessing they were pretty damn good back in 2002), but the sound design is on point.
Expect to look at everything, and expect to read a lot. This isn’t a game you can afford to take long breaks from, because it will remember absolutely nothing for you. If you need to look again at something you’ve already seen, you’d better remember where you found it in the first place. For me personally, this is a mark against the game, but the folks that cut their adventure gaming teeth on stumpers like Myst will probably call it a point in favor.
There’s a great sense of time and place in Dark Fall: The Journal, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get invested in the search for the player character’s missing brother. You can expect anywhere from 4 – 8 hours of play time, depending on how thorough you choose to be (and how crafty you are at figuring out the game’s many puzzles), and although I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, I’m all in on this one. There’s no demo available, but you can watch a commentary-free Let’s Play of the first ten or so minutes here.