Developed by Russian studio Ice-Pick Lodge and first released for PC in 2013, Knock-Knock has just come to Xbox One. In this mix of horror, survival and 2D platform, we guide our eccentric and insomniac hero in a house deep into the woods, trying to survive night after night while his sanity is slowly vanishing. And when he can no longer distinguish what is real from what is his imagination, someone starts knocking at the door. But would it be? Is there someone outside the house? Is there someone inside the house? Come check the answer for these questions in our review.
- The story is extremely captivating. Our character, an unsettling and sinister man who lives alone in a house surrounded by the forest, with no neighbors at sight, is some sort of scientist who observes the nature and keep notes of his observations in notebooks. Like his father did before him and like his grandfather did before. But something is changing in the forest. Something is changing inside the house. Things start to disappear. Our hero starts to see things. He listens to voices. And, more than anything, the sound of someone knocking on the door wakes him during the night. Who could it be at this time and in this secluded place? It’s up to you to help him discover. But remember: you’re a man of science. Maybe all this time alone in this house is making you see and hear things. Maybe your mind is playing with you. Maybe the line that divides reality from imagination is no longer so visible to him…
- I simply loved the graphics of the game! It resembles cartoons and HQs, playing between colorful and creepy. The scenarios are also great! Very detailed rooms that really made me feel uncomfortable. It’s nothing grotesque or disturbing, but I cannot recommend it for children. I’m sure you don’t want your kids having nightmares (like I did!) during the night.
- Sound is equally great: Don’t expect much music from the game, except during some short animations. The game shines in how it plays with you using sounds. The sounds of doors opening and closing. The sounds you hear from outside the house. Above all, the voices. Those creepy voices you don’t know where they’re coming from (except the voice of our little friend, which resembles of Muttley, from Wacky Races, that we know where is coming from). Will you attend to their orders and requests? Or is your mind playing with you while your rationality goes down the drain?
- The gameplay is actually very simple: to beat the stages, you must stay safe until the sunrise. You can check your progress on a clock at the top left of the screen: when the clock-hand completes a turn, the sun rises, indicating that you survived one more night. But the darkness gives our protagonist the creeps, so we must walk room after room turning lights on, making him more comfy. When something scares him or if he’s hiding behind the furniture, the clock-hand starts moving counterclockwise, prolonging the night. An original way to measure our progress.
- Other aspect that surprised me is how the game plays with us. Let me explain: most horror games have some kind of pattern that, once learned, you know what to do or how to proceed. In other words, you learn the ‘scare mechanic’, being able to identify and avoid it. In Knock-Knock, devs played with this feeling of safety with mastery: if turning the lights on is what makes you safe, what would happen if, at some time, something scared the hell out of you when turning the light on? You’d think twice before turning the lights on again. This unpredictability is amazing!
- Although the story is great, most of it comes from your own speculation. Since the game doesn’t explain what’s going on (actually, few things are explained), you’ll find yourself guessing most of the time what’s happened inside (and outside) the house. Only on later levels you truly understand what you must do in the game, so don’t get mad if you need a second play through to discover all its secrets.
- After you understand its core mechanic, the game becomes a hide and seek mini game. A somehow long and repetitive one. With increasing difficult, I admit, but I can see some players will asking themselves ‘is this all you’ve got?’.
- Sometimes you’ll feel lost, not knowing what to do. As our hero talks random things about his life, his job and the house, it isn’t clear what the game wants us to do. Some will ask for more clarity about the objectives to avoid some frustration. Personally, I liked the way it was built: for us not to complete understand what’s happening. Think about it as the story of the first Dark Souls, that wasn’t fully explained to you.
- I don’t know if this was supposed to happen, bur for two times the game teleported me from one room to another, one of them freezing the game.
Don’t expect jumpscares or any kind of gore from it. Knock-Knock is a remarkable game that plays with our anxiety and our fear of the dark. It consists of a simple gameplay based on hide and seek that may feel a little odd or uninteresting for some players, but believe me when I say it isn’t. The beautiful and uncomfortable artwork, the sounds and great voice work (voices that kept disturbing my dreams for a day or two) creates an atmosphere that really shines between horror games nowadays. Now, turn off the lights and enjoy your adventure inside this creepy house. And have a good night.