By Chris Leebody 15.12.2016
Don't Knock Twice comes courtesy of developers Wales Interactive, based in Wales, strangely enough. The team does not have a lot of mainstream publicity, but is starting out on a development journey that has already seen them pick up their fair share of awards and critical attention. Their next project, Don't Knock Twice, is a VR-only title and also requires the relevant touch controls for the various VR platforms. Like many developers, Wales Interactive has grasped onto the new power that VR grants, and has developed a horror title that is based on the recently-released film of the same name. Any fan of VR will know horror is a genre that excels in this medium, due to the literal immersion in the world with all the sounds and sights. Don't Knock Twice is due for release in April 2017, but thanks to a demo, Cubed3 has got a very brief glimpse at what is to come.
It should be noted straight away that this truly is a very short caption of the whole experience. The demo available is the equivalent of a movie teaser trailer. However, any film buff knows that the best teaser trailers excite the audience and build the anticipation for the experience. Don't Knock Twice certainly does that with an intensely creepy, but also jumpy snapshot of the full product.
When the VR headset is in place, the world fills to black until a suitably creepy wooden door is placed in sight, with a large bronze knocker and a handwritten note in the letterbox. Pick up the note and the message reads, "One knock to wake her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead." Literally using the controls to knock, the scene immediately switches to an ordinary living room setting in anything but ordinary circumstances, with a raging storm, little light...and worst of all, an ominous slammed door and knocking.
It is hard to say from this demo in what direction gameplay travels. At the moment, in this first section, it just involves teleportation for movement, the easiest way of travel in VR, combined with looking for objects to solve the puzzles and advance the story. For example, the first objective is to break down the locked door to get out of the room. This involves firstly grabbing an axe to hack at it, and then, after grabbing a candle, physically moving it into the fireplace, and then combining a hairspray can to create a flamethrower.
This kind of puzzling could be very engaging on its own, but it would also be interesting if there were some action orientated experiences that allowed a fightback against the inevitable spirits that occupy this creepy house. One thing that needs to be taken into consideration from a control perspective is the ability to turn the head without having to do so in real life. Sometimes configurations of playing space can make this a challenge, so it would be helpful if a workaround was in place, even if it was tied into the teleportation mechanic through rotating the wrist or suchlike.
What is clear straight away is that Don't Knock Twice gets the atmosphere absolutely correct. The jump scares do provide a physical response of shock and terror. Graphically, it is also very impressive, with the light effects being the standout feature, which is clearly one of the most important for a chilling horror title. For VR users, this is definitely a game to pick up when it is released, and it will certainly provide many hilarious reaction videos on YouTube if nothing else. Just don't let grandma play.