Hide & Seek Simulator 2017
This would have been a more applicable title than Knock Knock. Upon first loading the game, you’re met with a message that doesn’t exactly set the most advantageous tone:
“What you see before you is not exactly what one would call ‘a game.’ It’s more like an interactive meditation, reenacted from scattered evidence, that happened to fall into our hands. It was built according to instructions, left by the original archive’s anonymous donor”
“Not exactly what one would call a game”. This should have been my first clue, but I passed over it thinking it was just poetic license. It isn’t.
Knock Knock presents itself as a horror game, but in reality it is nothing of the sort. An unnamed protagonist acts as our guide while speaking in gibberish less decipherable than Charlie Brown’s teacher. Now, I could get passed this if it was simply a small part of a larger, more involved plot. It’s not. Instead, this is only the beginning of Knock Knock’s confusing and frustrating mechanics.
The game does not start out bad. In fact, it’s quite intriguing. This unnamed man looks completely shot out and on the verge of total insanity. His hair is messed up, his eyes have dark red rings around them and he can’t sleep. He speaks to you many times, or at least tries to, and complains about his headaches, lack of sleep and overall complete lack of semblance to what is going on. You start each “level” by getting out of bed in a house. There is absolutely no guide to the game, no controller layout in a menu and nothing other than experimentation to guide you forward in your progress. A setup like this is hard to overcome, but Knock Knock doesn’t do itself any favors with its lackluster arrangement.
Your character walks through the house while hearing mysterious voices, pounding on doors and light bulbs shattering. Guided only by the light of a small candle, you walk through the house and turn on bulbs. There is a bulb in every room, and certain rooms see a clock appear when you turn on the bulb while others make household items magically appear. This clock looks like our character, only with a clock face where his face is supposed to be. Every time we use the clock, it pushes time forward. The key is to get the clock all the way until morning in order to pass the phase. The only issue is there is no way you can possibly know this until it happens, so it becomes incredibly frustrating.
Once you turn a light on, the character will stand still with his eyes closed for a few seconds. Objects like telescopes, furniture or others will then spontaneously appear. These will let you hide from the monsters that are haunting each house. When you see one, you can decide to either hide behind an object, run away, or let them touch you. If they touch you, a chunk of your time is reset, and this keeps you in the level longer. Light bulbs will break for no reason whatsoever, and this also cuts back some of your time. If too much of your time is lost, you start the level over again.
All you are able to do with your lovely psychotic friend is turn on lights, go up or down ladders and hide. That’s it. The main issue at hand in Knock Knock is there is literally no logic in how to go about it. In fact, it is possible to do literally NOTHING and beat a level. As soon as you wake up, simply stand there and do nothing. Time will pass, no monsters will find you and you will complete the stage.
For some reason, the last several levels see a type of bar at the top of the screen. It’s apparently tied directly to our character’s sanity, but this is also not explained at all. You’ll need to complete the levels without the bar fading out. The bar does not reset in between levels, so you’ll need to move quickly. Here’s the thing. Once the bar fades out, it is quite literally lights out. The game is over. Sadistic. I’m not a huge fan of permadeath games, but I can appreciate it in certain instances. To throw it in a game like Knock Knock, which makes no effort to communicate whether something is important or why it’s included, is frustrating beyond comprehension. In fact, trying to understand Knock Knock made me feel as if I was playing the part of the psychotic protagonist myself. Maybe that’s the key, Who knows? I sure don’t.
Sometimes the fun of a game is actually finding out what is going on. It could be something as simple as a character’s origin story or as complex as a multi-level, strategy oriented, RPG boss fight. It’s the thrill of the hunt so to speak. Knock Knock is neither of these things. In fact, it presents itself in such a convoluted manner that it becomes annoying and tiresome. The title of “horror game” is quickly lost to the frustrations of simply finding out what is going on.
It’s a shame actually, because at first it seems that Knock Knock has such potential. The sound effects are eery and the 2D, hand drawn objects are a pleasure to gaze upon at. This potential is quickly lost and overshadowed by the game’s misconfigurations. It seems as if Knock Knock was published without any fine tuning from the drawing board. It’s unfortunate to say, but perhaps it would have been better off staying there.
With so much incompleteness, frustration and overall lack of direction, I wouldn’t recommend Knock Knock.
- Decent background colors
- Total lack of a guidance system makes navigating the game too cumbersome to enjoy.
- No purpose of what to do while playing and what importance certain items have.
- No point in playing game as you can beat most of it without moving
- Completely unorganized in terms of purpose making the game nearly unplayable.
- Permadeath system is so poorly implemented that it goes against how you play the game.