Knock Knock – Review
Follow Genre: Psychological horror side scroller
Developer: Ice-Pick Lodge
Publisher:
Platforms: Windows

Knock Knock – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Graphics and sounds are superb, initial story
Bad: Lack of visible game logic, unfinished and largely unexplained story
User Score
0
(0 votes)
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

A wooden house stands in the forest. A single man lives there.The house receives visits from unusual guests that knock on the window inviting this strange hermit to join them in a game of hide-and-seek. To win, simply remain alive and maintain your sanity until sunrise. Approaching the Visitors head-on is a dangerous idea. As soon as the first Visitor emerges from the forest, the countdown begins. Every passing hour brings them closer to the house, and the house’s walls offer no sanctuary. Something is already inside. Something is opening the window and banging around in the kitchen. Something controls the cellar and attic. Floorboards creak softly deep in the bowels of the house…

Knock Knock header

Story

The main character is not known by any name, apparently he comes from a long-line of scientists and you live alone in a cabin surrounded by a forest. What exactly it is that his family has been doing there remains a mystery. All that is known is that they study the nature of things. Right now he suffers either from nightmares or is slowly descending into madness. Nightly visitors (ghosts?) enter his house every night and there is a watcher of sorts that threatens to stare him to death. On top of everything, he seems to be suffering memory loss. The only way of regaining said memories is by finding his diary. But there are pages missing and if, our questionably sane, friend wants to prevent his mind into going to oblivion, he must find the pages whilst avoiding all sorts of freaky spooks.This is about everything that can be made known about the story, without spoiling the ending. The story is one of the strongest points of the game or so it seemed initially anyway. As the story progresses, initial interest in the mysterious nature of our friends predicament quickly turns into impatience. Earlier this month I was given the opportunity to play the preview build so it comes to no surprise that I find it a damn shame that the “completed” version barely offers more than the preview. I’m sure there is a full-fledged story out there on a story board. Unfortunately it has never made it into this game.

Knock Knock review1

Graphics

The graphics are superb and fitting for this kind of genre. The colors are adequate and contribute to the darker tone of the game (not as a pun intended). The drawing style gives off a sort of eerie haunted children’s storybook kind of aura. The game’s light and shadow play is also contributing to the general mood of the game. It is intentionally making some stark contrasts with its light and dark mechanics, to keep the player on the edge and this is where a dark themed game like this one shines.

Knock Knock review 2

Sound

Sound, like the Graphics are a real feast. Silence plays a big part in the creation of room. The player is immediately immersed in the game not because of what it says but because of what little it says. It creates a vacuum that sucks the player in. Stark contrast is provided by the eerie sounds one encounters throughout the story. The sound effects are spot on and very well done. The creepy voice acting couldn’t have been better. One wonders if people with creepy voices like in the game exist( if so, I don’t want to meet them).

Gameplay

Gameplay is fairly simple. You have to maneuver our, less than awake, friend through his own house to find diary pages and survive the night. All the while ghosts and other creepy crawlers will try to put you back to “sleep”. It should be noted here that it is not explicitly stated in the game that our character is simply put to sleep, for all we know he is really dying. But since the game is heavily dubious about the nature of said fiends (they are either part of a nightmare or reality) and our character is suffering from a severe case of sleep deprivation, we can only assume that it is the former of the two possibilities. The rooms of the house are randomly generated so each play-through is unique. The further you get into the game the more rooms each house consists of. In each house you start off in our protagonists (lit) bedroom. From there you have to make your way through the rest of the house, turning on lights and finding clues. Finding clues is done by standing still for a moment in the room when our character closes his eyes. Upon opening his oculars one is either awarded with discovering a hiding spot or a clock. Clocks are important for two things: advancing the clock closer to game winning sunlight and at the same time it serves as your standard life points. When you get hit by ghosts, the clock (and thus also victory) is set back a few turns. How far the clock is turned back depends on which ghost you encounter. Ghosts come in various form and shapes. Generally I have found that the bigger the ghost is, the more dangerous it is. Quick attacking ghosts like the wall crawler (a invisible fiend only noticeable by the bloody handprints it leaves on the wall) only set you back for about 5 minutes (in-game world time). Whereas the cloaked ghosts almost set you back an entire hour (early game ender if you don’t pay attention).
Now the frustrating part of the game is that there are no clues, nor hints to as to how the game works. Ghosts are surely to appear when there is some loud banging and knocking. Or is it when the lights in one of the rooms fall out? It is really never explained. Also, why do we need to turn on the lights? Are there any benefits gained from this action except the obvious hiding places and diary pages? Another frustrating point is that between each house there is this long forest path you have to walk. The emphasis here is “long”, whereas at first I thought that there might be more to this path, it remains completely unchanged until the end. There are no visible goals or gains to be found along the way. Between each “ghost” house there is also a house where you can just find one of those clocks. It is never explained as to what use that clock has, which is again a cause of frustration.

Conclusion

While Knock Knock seemed to have been very promising at first, it falls short of so many expectations I had. Perhaps it was my own fault to have been expecting so much, but initial press releases about the game were promising more functions. But as it is now, it lacks a comprehensible logic of gameplay. Not knowing what to actually do and why you have to do it can be pretty frustrating. The largely repetitive wood scenes and intermediary house scenes get boring after a while. Now not all is bad. The graphics and sound section are more than enough to justify buying this game. Beautiful eerie art combined with spine tingling sounds put this game out of the red zone. Perhaps this is the game we could compare to the beautiful hyped up hipster girl, who perhaps in her own unending complexity becomes so incomprehensible that she becomes plain. Well at least she doesn’t spend a lot of money, Knock Knock is available on Steam for roughly 9€. Let’s wait for future releases, but as of now Knock Knock is nothing more than a good dream cut short in the middle.

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1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | Contest: Knock Knock!
    October 29, 2013, 5:12 pm

    […] Be sure to read through our review as well, by clicking here. […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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