Don't Knock Twice (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 22.09.2017

Review for Don

Horror movie licence games are an extremely rare occurrence. With the exception of the recent Friday The 13th game, there really is not much to name without having really scour the libraries of selections that are well over 10 years old at this point. Stranger still is the fact that Don't Knock Twice is based on a relatively unsuccessful horror film of the same name. It was a film that pretty much nobody really remembers and was poorly received by everyone, so the fact that it got a tie-in video game months later is even more perplexing. The scariest part about this is that the video game tie-in is actually slightly impressive.

The game designers of Don't Knock Twice did not have a substantial budget to work with. They did not even really have the rights to use the likenesses of the actors from the film their project is based from (probably). Much of the issues that would have normally plagued a low budget horror film tie-in are circumvented thanks to the developers realizing that in horror, less is more. As someone who has never seen the original film of Don't Knock Twice, rest assured that this game is self-contained and has all the vital information within it to comprehend the story.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on PlayStation 4

Without spoiling too much, the story involves a strained relationship with the protagonist and her daughter and the summoning of a Slavic demonic entity known as the Baba Yaga. The Baba Yaga can be best described as some kind of a hideous old crone or hag, possibly a witch of some kind, and during the course of the game, her appearance is kept to a minimum, so when she does show up it doesn't lose impact.

The story and gameplay are done in Gone Home/P.T. style, where all the information and clues are told through environmental storytelling and by examining interesting objects, or reading notes or letters. There is not much dialogue to hear at all and pretty much all the information is inferred or read. Even when characters do communicate, it's via a text message. The core gameplay revolves around navigating a large mansion, which has only one bathroom, and solving some somewhat easy puzzles, which will yield one of the six artefacts to complete a satanic ritual.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on PlayStation 4

That is all there really is to this in the briefest of terms. There are some scripted scares here and there to make the experience have some tension, but this is where Don't Knock Twice starts to falter in its design. Much like Gone Home, this is more of a walking sim than a real survival horror, and while presence of the Baba Yaga is palpable, it never makes good on any of her threats and just pops up once in a while to remind everyone that it exists. Baba Yaga even makes empty threats by writing in blood on the wall that she is "coming to get you!" Alas, there is no lose state ever, and when it becomes apparent early on that the worst thing that can happen is a cheap jump scare, all tension is completely deflated.

Even though the Baba Yaga is not much of a threat, Don't Knock Twice still manages to be a competent puzzle-exploration game with some spooky atmosphere. The visuals are mostly solid all around and the lighting effects are believable. Using candles to light the way works as a meta game in a way to make navigation more manageable in the inky darkness of the house. Controls are a little unusual in that the trigger button is the pick up and drop function, while the shoulder button is the "use" operation. It won't be too uncommon to have muscle memory betray and people find themselves dropping key items by accident. The puzzles that are present would be interesting if it weren't for the fact that the clues the game provides spell out the solution in the most blatant manner imaginable.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on PlayStation 4

The atmosphere can also be a bit hit or miss, too, since it swings between hauntingly subtle to smacking the player over the head with silly haunted house style changing portraits. The best moments are when something has changed and it isn't obvious until a few minutes after it has happened. It's the kind of slow scare that creeps into the subconscious and can be pondered.

There is a VR mode for anyone with a PSVR headset to partake in, but sadly it is very poorly implemented. The VR mode is extremely limiting and is restricted to a teleport movement style only, with no option for free movement. Even worse, there is no option for smooth rotation at all, and users are stuck with a very disorientating snap 30-degree movement that is mapped to the Square and Circle buttons. The PC version of Don't Knock Twice has options for more free movement, so it is very disappointing that the PlayStation 4 version completely lacks any options to make the VR experience palatable for anyone who is serious about virtual reality gaming.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

As far as Gone Home style first-person narrative-driven games go, Don't Knock Twice is decent. It has two endings, which is welcomed, and a couple of interesting puzzles to mix things up a bit, even if the solution is way too obviously spelled out. The story is told in a hazy way to keep a semblance of mystery about it, and the restraint with how the Baba Yaga is depicted keeps her scary. What is not scary is how the Baba Yaga is never a threat, and if it weren't for a few jump scares, she may as well not have existed at all. The deterioration of the house as it descends into a semi-nightmarish version of itself is quite effective, and the brevity of the overall experience (about two to three hours) ensures that Don't Knock Twice does not overstay its welcome.

Developer

Wales Interactive

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, devidise, Phoenom, RudyC3

There are 4 members online at the moment.