Knock-Knock, the newest offering from Ice-pick Lodge, has more than its fair share of things that go bump in the night. Rattling, haunting wailing, and creatures of unimaginable evil are all available in spades in Knock-Knock, providing for a horrific experience quite unlike anything else on the market. Knock-Knock is a game designed completely around keeping the player on their toes, constantly fearing whatever might be in the next room. This is something that Knock-Knock does unbelievably well, arguably better than any horror game released in the last handful of years. Prepare to be unsettled when playing Knock-Knock, because in this horror game, nothing is ever what it seems, and sometimes the light is worse than the dark.
Knock-Knock puts players in the slippers of a solitary Lodger. The Lodger spends his time in a cabin deep in the woods, studying charts and other scientific offerings. The cabin has been his family’s for years and the title of Lodger is passed down to the men of the family. The Lodger’s simple life is shattered as Knock-Knock begins, he no longer can sleep through the night, feels paranoia setting in – and there always seems to be damned knocking at his door.
Simple in premise, Knock-Knock gives the player no more information than this. The story is fragmented and told directly by the Lodger in his gibberish sounding voice, ensuring that the player only knows as much as the Lodger does at a given moment. His sleepless nights quickly become the least of the Lodger’s problems, as the very fabric of his reality becomes unraveled right before his sleep-deprived eyes.
Knock-Knock‘s narrative is driven as players take control of the Lodger during his long nights. Upon him awakening in the dead, early hours of the morning, the Lodger must check his cabin, ensuring that no one has made their way into his isolated home. This is done by maneuvering the Lodger to each room of his home, stopping briefly to turn on lights in said rooms. Turning on the lights reveals the more and more of his house, eventually revealing a Lodger-shaped clock that can be accessed to speed up time.
Speeding up time should mean that the Lodger will soon find himself in the safety of dawn’s warm light, but something is amiss in the woods. Upon securing each room of his cabin and finding the clock, the Lodger hears persistent, aggravated knocking at his front door, only to uncover it swung ajar, leading into the dark forest.
Upon leaving the Lodger’s cabin, the gameplay and story of Knock-Knock truly shine. Upon shuffling through the forest, the Lodger will find what seems to be another cabin and heads in – only to be awoken in the dead of night yet again. However, upon awaking this time, it is abundantly clear that something is wrong with the cabin. The Lodger’s cabin is no longer as he remembers it – rooms have changed and more have appeared that the Lodger has no recollection of. To make matters worse, the knocking that seems to follow the Lodger persists – and he feels a strange presence following him throughout the house.
During these sections, Knock-Knock truly bares its horror fangs. As the Lodger attempts to secure his cabin, strange and scary events constantly occur. Upon waking up, the Lodger must move through each room of his cabin, unlocking doors and turning on lights. When he turns on a light, the Lodger takes a few moments to adjust his eyes from darkness to light, revealing the contents of each room. Navigating the cabin and uncovering the secrets of each room flesh out the house as well as the state of the Lodger’s sanity.
Bumps, bangs and knocking are the first indication of something deranged lurking about the cabin. The Lodger warns that one must be quiet, lest the strange being he feels watches him takes note of his whereabouts in the house. These bumps and knocks turn into something much worse very quickly. Events occur in the house, shifting focus from the Lodger to a different room entirely. When this happens, the Lodger must hurry to fix the light in that room before something wicked can enter. If he fails to do so, the house quickly becomes occupied by strange ‘visitors’ with malicious intent.
The core of Knock-Knock revolves around lighting rooms, uncovering scraps of the Lodger’s forgotten diary, and surviving until daybreak. Avoiding the terrors that stalk the cabin as you attempt to light rooms is almost always anxiety-inducing, thanks to Knock-Knock’s pitch-perfect sound design. The bumps and bangs of the visitors feel as though they are constantly in the next room over, and the strange female voices that can be heard are absolutely bone chilling.
Knock-Knock is visually stunning. The hand-drawn look of the game bears similarities towards illustrations by Tim Burton, and captures the spooky nature of the game perfectly. The Lodger’s design fits him perfectly, capturing both the essence of a man quite unsure of his sanity and the things happening around him and the personality of an isolated man.
While Knock-Knock does sound, horror, and visuals right, the flaws in some of the game mechanics hold it back from being a perfect experience. The Lodger’s animations when unlocking doors or turning on lights do not match the sound cues that accompany them, often causing the player to let go of the action button, forcing them to repeat the task. While this causes only a few seconds of delay, in Knock-Knock, time is very much of the essence. Similar to the delay in animations, the hiding mechanic of Knock-Knock feels iffy at times. Players can hide behind objects in each room as a means of avoiding the visitors, but more often than not, it feels as though there is no rhyme or reason to being seen or left hidden.
As a whole, Knock-Knock is a absolute must play for those looking for an atmospheric, gorgeous, and downright scary game. Simple to pick up and play, but surprising engaging, Knock-Knock and it’s randomly generated cabin offer virtually limitless replayability – ensuring that fans can keep coming back for more and more. Despite a few clunky mechanics, Knock-Knock is a near perfect horror experience that fans of the genre will be sure to flock to.
The Author recieved a copy of Knock-Knock for the purpose of review.
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