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DARK FALL: The Journal

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

Dowerton Train Station & HotelNow this is how a scary story should be told! Essentially the unremitting work of one very talented man, Jonathan Boakes, it is a spectral tale of the supernatural: a great ghost story, with a horrifying ancient and modern twist. But what makes it so very frightening is the brilliant way that story is presented in the game. For Boakes takes the time to make the situation real and current, and to make the people human, only gradually revealing the true nature of what you're really up against. The game sucks you in slowly, playing on your own imagination and fears, until you feel like you're a part of it all, and are jumping at every sound and cringing at every whisper. So lock the doors and turn down all the lights, and then play this game alone... if you dare!

On the night of April 17, 2002, you receive an urgent and very disturbing phone message from your younger brother Pete. He's a young architect, and he has recently been working in rural Dorset at the old Dowerton Train Station & Hotel. The place has been empty since it was abandoned way back in 1947, after the public outcry over a string of unexplained disappearances forced it to close. But now the owner apparently plans to reopen it as a swank new restaurant and club, and your brother has been staying there to do the surveys and draw up the plans. And you thought that all was going well... until you heard his voice on your answering machine.

"Something is wrong... very wrong!   I am in Dorset. There are 2 students here from Weymouth University: Polly and Nigel, ghost hunters.   I need you to come here.   Because whatever they have been hunting, has found them... and it's found me too.   I really need your help!   I can hear it.   It's right outside the door... whispering.   Whispering my name. It knows my name!!!   And I've got to open the door..."

Hotel LobbyYou try to call him back, but his cell phone is dead. You can't get an answer from anyone, and you're starting to panic! You know you must get to Dowerton Station. Now!!!

This is a non-linear, 1st person, 3D, point and click game with a small inventory, and subtitles are available by pressing F1 whenever the game is launched. It does not need to be installed but instead runs directly from the CD, so the only hard drive space that you need is for your saved games. The interface is easy to use, but there's a built-in hint system and instructions on the CD in case you need them to explain any unfamiliar technique (like how to communicate with ghosts!). There is no blood or gore, but instead the game works on your imagination right from the very start. Even the CD itself is a little spooky: a black disc that arrives without a label, and is played black side down!

The circa 1940s world that you enter is eerie and real. It has been meticulously rendered, in authentic historical detail, with muted grays and greens and browns, and you can almost smell the decay. The floorboards creak, the old electrical wiring sputters, and a rat scurries at your approach. And yet some of the rooms appear to be practically undisturbed, as if they were still inhabited... or perhaps abandoned suddenly when something happened without warning. They still contain the period furnishings, in all their faded glory, and many of the small personal effects (like radios and love letters, recipes and photo albums) that belonged to all of the dead people.

Arther's StudioYou start to feel a little ghoulish poking through them, like you're disturbing a grave, and the strange sounds that you hear do nothing to ease your mind. Among other things, there are snippets of speech and song from disembodied voices (and the voice acting is excellent)... and that terrifying unexplained shadow and sound that seems to be growing in intensity as you go along!   The place is definitely haunted, and your nerves are beginning to fray.

But you persevere. Because by now you've started to piece together what's really happening here... and you know that you must try to stop it. The puzzles that you must solve to do so are integral to both the plot and the setting: none are too difficult, and clues abound. And they are absolutely fascinating, involving everything from ancient runes and symbols to 1940s pop culture (like hidden compartments, cryptograms, and even a Ouija Board), as well as a lot of modern ghost hunting equipment. So you'll have to use your mind, and all your powers of observation. You must keep your wits about you, and watch out for that unseen world... if you're going to survive.

And that's when it suddenly hits you, that the illusion is perfect. You've been completely captivated: you've fallen under his spell. You've been made a believer! You're so caught up in the story that these people feel like family... and the danger seems very real.

Yes indeed, this game is the spellbinding work of a master storyteller. We highly recommend it!

Miss Fly's Desk
Full View Screenshot

NOTE:  Some people new to computers are having difficulty saving a game.  For those people we have developed a guide named How To Save Games In Dark Fall.  If you need more help, then email us

Developed (2002) by Jonathan Boakes and XXv Productions.  Published (2003) by The Adventure Company.

Rated:   T   for Teen 13+ (mild violence)

Minimum System Requirements:  Windows

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

"MaGtRo's Walkthrough" available here!

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Copyright  December 2002
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