Knock-Knock Review – Shallow Scares (PS4)
Knock-Knock is already out on multiple platforms such as PC, Android, and iOS. The eerie game about a disturbed man’s slow descent into madness, and your attempt to save him, has been ported to the PlayStation 4. Is a better control scheme worth a premium price? Read on to find out.
As the game begins, our protagonist introduces you to his meager existence. He is a third-generation Lodger, whose job title is “Worldologist.” He simply has to write about the world around him as often as he can, in the hopes that his findings can someday be used as part of scientific research. Early on, the Lodger realizes the diary that he was keeping as a part of this process has gone missing, with only random notes scribbled on pages that appear to have been ripped out of said diary left behind as clues. The story isn’t terribly clear, and you’re never quite sure when the character is sleeping or actually awake.
Knock-Knock‘s real issues begin to surface when you’re in the third or fourth scene. A shambling enemy appears in the shadows, and you are instructed to hide behind objects that you reveal slowly by staying in a room that is lit up. While your first attempt at hiding is a “gimmie,” future attempts at hiding are usually unsuccessful. Like most everything else in Knock-Knock, the reason you were found is not explained. Also, although you are told early on that looking away from enemies will make them ignore you, it doesn’t seem to work on some enemies, again for no particular reason.
Check Your Sanity at the Door
In between main sequences, you are tasked with going out into the forest to check that nothing is out to get you. It is here that you must find a certain someone in order to try and unlock the game’s better endings. Naturally, none of this is really explained, and what you find is usually confusing but at least more colorful and even comforting when contrasted with Knock-Knock‘s dark, sinister tone. But hey, at least with the DualShock 4 you can control your character fairly precisely; the experience is markedly improved from the tapping and swiping interface of the mobile versions of the game.
The ambiance of Knock-Knock is expertly crafted. You are moving around in an old, rickety house that used to be an observatory, and you never forget that. Floorboards creak, lights constantly need fixing, appliances are ancient, and things are generally unkempt. There’s often a storm raging outside, creatures appear to be in the shadows, and someone, or something, keeps knocking at your front door…Playing this game with headphones, as its introduction text recommends, is absolutely the best way to experience the scares this game has to offer. However, the sound effects are re-used liberally, and by the time you finish the three-hour experience you will have grown accustomed to the thunderstorm and knocking on the door.
Knock-Knock is a game with great sound work, a nice, unsettling art style, but several flaws. Its mechanics are never explained. You can expect to replay the entire thing over again to see its “best” and “good” endings. With no real way to see if you’ve made decent progress other than to play until the end. Since there is no traditional save system, this can turn into quite the gamble, and if you make it through the game a second or third time only to find out that you didn’t “earn” the best ending, you may kind of feel like you wasted your time. When you can get the same game for only $2.99 and $3.99 on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store respectively, and the only thing you really gain is an improved control scheme, it’s hard to recommend to anyone but hardcore supporters of the indie/horror scene.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.