Like most Ice Pick Lodge games, Knock-Knock is set in a sombre and dying world. A dying forest in this case, mind you. We play as a reclusive scientist who lives in a forest cabin that inexplicably keeps changing shape (semi-randomized levels, woo!). In the small hours before sunrise a bunch of unseen visitors emerge out of the woods / his mind to play a ghastly game of hide-and-seek with him.
Your main challenge will be in trying to unearth the methods by which your uninvited sojourners operate. What does that knocking sound mean? What happens when I leave on or turn off the light? Why is there a huge eldritch eye on the wall now? You will hear voices. Some of them are friendly, others sound unsettling to say the least. Sometimes they appear to give you hints, while at other times they are just trying to freak you out. The exact rules of their twisted little game seem very complex, and I predict this will add a lot of replay value.
At its heart, this game is about the monsters we create by believing they are there. It plays on those lingering childhood fears that we never quite seem to get rid of (or is that just me?). With the years it becomes harder to be truly enchanted by fantastic stories and fairytales, but darkness and isolation can still strip away the rationality of adulthood, providing a gateway to perhaps one of the few genuine ‘make-believes’ that we have left. I liked how Knock-Knock directly seems to adress the player at certain points, outlining creepy make-believe games that you can try for yourself in the small hours.
In the opening screen the game describes itself as an ‘interactive meditation’, which I think is a pretty good way to put it. Yes, the game will startle you and make you feel tense. Yet to me there was also something strangely soothing, even nostalgic (though not exactly relaxing) about traversing those empty rooms and hallways in the early morning. There are sinister forces at work that may or may not have your best interests in mind, but the game also led me to feel a peculier affinity with these ‘guests’ that came out of the woods to play with me. All the while maintaining a strong sense of impending doom.
This studio is known for making harsh, unforgiving games in which small mistakes can have disasterous unforseen consequences. But unlike other IPL games, Knock-Knock doesn’t let you manage your save-files and thus requires you to restart the whole game if you bugger up in the end. Which is what happened to me, preventing me from getting a satisfying ending. Then again, I suppose this abyss of uncertainty is part of the experience. The game lasts only 2-3 hours, and the threat of failure should be an effective way to keep up the challenge for future playthroughs.
Knock-Knock is a quirky little horror-game that puts you in a strangely meditative state of unease. Worth picking up if you are interested. Needless to say, this should be played alone in a dark room.http://singingwhitefungus.wordpress.com/