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Knock Knock (Xbox)

Developed by Ice Pick Lodge, Knock Knock originally released in 2013 on PC (£6.99) is available now on Xbox One for £5.59.

I admit I was a little nervous about playing this as I'm a bit of a scaredy cat and horror games aren't the first genre I would immediately pick up and play. Knock Knock isn't horrifyingly jumpy; it's more of an atmospheric, freaky kind of scary. I still wouldn't give it to my kids to play, though! 

Simplistic gameplay, you literally move around using left stick (or the D pad if you prefer) and hold A to interact with doors and lights.
Visually Knock Knock is fitting with its genre; dark and gloomy and definitely representative of the protagonist's emotional state. 
I didn't suffer any drop in framerate but then it is a pretty slow paced game. I do like the sounds of Knock Knock; the thud of each footstep and the banging on doors are great (with my headset on, the first time the banging happened I did jump out of my skin).

Something that did really start to irritate me is that the character speaks in nonsensical, squeaky jibberish. I'm not sure what the point in this was as it would have been so much better if it had been voiced properly. There are subtitles for you to read so I don't know why the character couldn't have just remained mute. I did notice a fair amount of typos which is a shame as if you're expected to read the story (rather than being able to listen to it) then it really should be flawless.

I like the concept of the game and the overall story is interesting and you do find yourself wanting to know more about him and what is going on but I feel that ultimately I was left unsatisfied. 

Knock Knock doesn't tell you what is going on at all and honestly, it gets incredibly frustrating at times. You have to learn through notes (as well as trial and error) but I assume they are popping up randomly because they seem very disjointed; perhaps that is the point. There is no obvious save option so you either try and finish the game in one sitting or you brave it and hope that it does save at least some of your progress (it seemed to save mine!).

You are a lodger who has been carrying out experiments and research for a very long time whilst living in this strange house in the middle of a spooky forest. Lately, he feels like something isn't right and quite frankly, he looks utterly tormented; possibly an insomniac or depressed (or both). You have to go round the house (turning on lights as we go) trying to find and activate clocks (to speed up times) in what feels like an elaborate game of 'hide and seek'. If one of your recently turned on lights turns back off, banging on the door will commence and ghost type figures will try to find you until you manage to turn that particular light back on.

At first, I really enjoyed the element of being able to discover your story by yourself but after the hundredth time of restarting at your bed not knowing what is going on and what you have got to do next; it definitely gets tedious. I wish that there could have been a "hint" option at the very least.

More often than not I felt as though I was being pushed through the level rather than actually figuring out what needed to get done. A lot of the time the layout of the house would change upon respawn so I wasn't able to try out different techniques. I was left with a feeling of absolute confusion half of the time, in fact, the only time I knew what I was doing was when I was allowed to venture into the forest.
I still haven't managed to complete the entire story because I literally don't know what I am supposed to do. If I stay in the house, nothing happens. If I leave the house, I die. I'm all for games not interfering with the player's experience of a game but I shouldn't be left thinking "What on earth do I do? or "How did I manage to complete it that time?" 95% of the time.

Having looked a little more into this; there seems to be a total of 4 possible endings:

  1. Best - you can escape the forest and it comes back to life.
  2. Good - you escape but the forest remains dead.
  3. Bad - you remain in the house forever.
  4. Worst - you succumb to insanity and its game over (but doesn't actually tell you it's game over; it just leaves you to figure it out for yourself.
Yes, I suppose the different endings would add a certain amount of replay value but it really isn't for me. To spend hours playing and have the worst outcome and have to start ALL OVER AGAIN? No, I don't think so. In time perhaps I will give it another go... but to invest so much time into a game and have absolutely no acknowledgement of your effort is disheartening to say the least.

Knock Knock has 18 achievements available for 1,000 Gamerscore. Some of them are missable if you play through without a guide and there are two separate ending related achievements (one being the "good" ending and the other being the "bad" ending). The achievements are well named and an attempt at being creative is clear but a huge flaw for me is that they seem to unlock randomly for example with the notes, at the end of the game you can keep walking into the door and they will all unlock. I doubt this was intended. It would probably be in your best interests if you are going to play this game with a view to completing all of the achievements, that you use a walkthrough/guide. If you are looking for any help or guidance with any of the achievements then head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of helpful information.

Overall I have had a bittersweet experience playing Knock Knock. It is enjoyable up until the point where you just don't understand what you have to do anymore (because it is game over but nothing indicates this so you're wandering aimlessly around the house wondering what you haven't done yet). If I had to give it a score it would be 4/10. There are only so many times I can go round rooms turning on lights and still feel like I haven't got a clue what's happening. I'd recommend using a guide for this one if you're not going to avoid it. 

A game code was provided for the purpose of this review. Thank you!
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