Don't Knock Twice (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 17.10.2017

Review for Don

Despite being a movie tie-in, Don't Knock Twice's Steam and PS4 releases, while not entirely well received, managed to at least offer more than the usual film advertisement schlock thanks in large part to the VR elements. Now that it's made its way to the Switch, it goes without saying that those virtual reality elements are no longer present to obscure any potential flaws. Stripped of its main gimmick, Don't Knock Twice must stand on merit alone. Does it have the level design and length to justify playing through it without VR, or is the Switch port just a mediocre title waiting to be lost in the eShop's ever-growing abyss?

Like many first-person horror simulators, Don't Knock Twice isolates itself in one key setting where it derives its horror from. In establishing a smaller scope, it becomes easier for an in-game intimacy to be established with the audience. It's the reason why Resident Evil's Spencer Mansion and any of Silent Hill's many locales are looked upon so fondly. Thoughtful architecture and geography go a long way in creating a memorable experience.

That said, a small scope means nothing if the setting has no discernible personality of its own. Don't Knock Twice's old timey manor, while mostly pleasant to walk around in, falls victim to just about every horror cliché without adding anything new of its own. Long hallways with no payoff, doors that lock at random, and creepy background noises aren't necessarily bad ideas to implement into a horror sim, but they come off dull and uninspired when they're simply placed in because they're genre staples.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on Nintendo Switch

Even from an angle of purely genre appreciation, these tropes fall flat from a lack of sincerity. They're present here because they were present in other games, not because they benefit the manor's layout, from a level design standpoint, in any significant way. Under the lens of a VR title, this simplicity could potentially be forgiven, or at least excused to some extent. Virtual reality is young and developers are still experimenting with the format. Clichés can painlessly demonstrate how a genre transitions into VR. Invoking fear, the goal of the horror genre, is more natural in a literal first person. Once the interactivity is back to just a controller, however, those excuses no longer hold water.

In abandoning VR, the manor's cracks start to fall front and centre. Exploration revolves entirely around figuring out which obscure item opens the door to the next area. For a story that doesn't even last two hours, it's truly terrifying how repetitive the gameplay is. It never evolves past its simple premise, nor does it try to innovate it. Every room is the exact same as the last from a design perspective. Without VR, there's no way to hide how plain and tedious the gameplay actually is.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on Nintendo Switch

More importantly, however, the manor is riddled with bugs. It's not unusual to encounter some graphical stuttering or to clip through a wall. Lag and slowdown are also present despite there being very little actually happening on screen most of the time. These are all common problems that occur while the Switch is docked. Even thinking about playing it undocked is a disaster waiting to happen.

As if the overall game design wasn't bad enough, the controls are downright obnoxious without some tweaking. Walking is neither smooth nor fluid, crouching is defaulted to a hold, and the hitboxes for most items are bafflingly small, making it a living hell to interact with most objects. There's some variety in the options to fiddle with, but a default control scheme should reflect the developer's vision. If these are truly the controls the developers intended for Don't Knock Twice, then they are masters of horror, as there is nothing scarier than fumbling around in order to read a short piece of paper.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on Nintendo Switch

In terms of story, there's really nothing present outside of those hard-to-read documents and the occasional text messages from Chloe, the protagonist's daughter. Documents left behind to provide crucial exposition is harmless enough, but the actual content is so dull and lifeless that it's hard to call this a story in the first place. The plot plays out like a summarized version of an actual story, with the main character rummaging around their manor and stumbling upon plot points in the form of expository texts. There are no themes and there are no arcs. To say the plot is just a bullet point list of events would imply that there is anything remotely eventful within the narrative.

Enjoyment is at its absolute highest in the very beginning before anything actually happens. That first room is full of promise: the promise of horror, exploration, and story. It all falls apart the moment the player is tasked in actually playing the game, but there is something magical about the anticipation of fear. Don't Knock Twice is repetitive, tedious, and bland. Perhaps it was worth buying previously solely for the VR aspect, but without it, it's just a worthless Switch port waiting to be forgotten.

Screenshot for Don't Knock Twice on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

The scariest thing about Don't Knock Twice is how poorly it plays on the Nintendo Switch. Constant stuttering, clipping, and lag shatter immersion before it can even happen. Without the novelty of virtual reality, the manor is just another haunted house with bland puzzles to pad a painfully short campaign. Gameplay boils down to interacting with as many objects as possible in order to find the right item to proceed over and over again. The design of the manor itself is thoughtless and just a series of lifeless rooms that are more focused on tossing out as many horror clichés as possible instead of offering actual variety. Even if everything worked as intended, it would still be held back by an awkward, immersion-breaking control scheme. Don't think twice: don't buy Don't Knock Twice.

Developer

Wales Interactive

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

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   

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