Review: Don’t Knock Twice (PS4/PSVR)

Review: Don't Knock Twice (PS4/PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • Blu-ray Disc
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Optional
  • DualShock 4 Recommended (1)
  • Move Optional (2)
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Title: Don’t Knock Twice
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (1.59 GB)
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Wales Interactive / Perp Games
Developer: Wales Interactive
Original MSRP:

Digital: $19.99 (US), £15.99 (UK)
Physical: $39.99 (US), £19.99 (UK)

ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 567 of the podcast at 25:40.
PS Nation Podcast Episode 567: Don't Knock Kratos

Gameplay:
Don’t Knock Twice is loosely based on the 2016 movie of the same name starring Katee Sackhoff, probably best known for playing Starbuck in the Battlestar Galactica reboot and Lucy Boynton.

The story revolves around an urban legend about a demon witch, Baba Yaga, that steals children and whisks them off to some horrifying other realm. It’s played entirely in first person mode and has you wandering around the house and grounds mostly based on texts from your daughter.

You’ll learn more about the legend through collectibles scattered around the house during the game if you take the time to pick them up and read them, and I’d recommend that you do, as it fills in the legend and adds to the creep factor.

This is a horror game that relies mostly, though not entirely, on jump scares. There has to be a pretty good hook to get me into a horror game or movie otherwise I spend most of my time rolling my eyes or flat out laughing throughout.

With Don’t Knock Twice, the atmosphere was creepy enough to keep me engaged. Exploring an unfamiliar dark house on a stormy night can be scary enough on its own, adding in the creaking and knocking sounds actually gave me the chills a number of times.

The game can be played with either a DualShock 4 or a pair of Move controllers and VR is optional. In my first playthrough, I tried out VR with Move for what I figured would be a more immersive experience.

There are some clever tricks in the programming that allow you to play the entire game in a seated position, but a few things hampered the experience. One of the first things you need to pick up, after a text from your daughter, is a candle. You’ll grab it using the trigger on the Move controller, but you have to keep the trigger held down or you’ll drop it.

On the one hand, this makes sense. You’re holding something in your hand so you’ll need to keep a good grip on it. Unfortunately though, this can become a real pain when trying to navigate through the house and its minor puzzles while only using your other hand. If you drop it, the candle could go out, then you’ll need to find a fireplace or another lit candle to light it again.

There are plenty of things laying around to find. Beyond the background of the legend, other items will fill in some of the backstory on the relationship your character has with her daughter and explain why it’s so strained. You can of course ignore all of this but you won’t get as much out of the game.

There are also a number of hidden collectibles and goofy things to do purely for Trophies which can detract a bit from the tension of the experience. When I came across a bag of golf clubs, I instinctively reached for one and I was a bit surprised when I was able to grab it. I figured if it’s possible to get this and hold it, it can probably be useful as a weapon. It wasn’t.

The golf club actually had no use at all and I walked through half the game with a candle in one hand and that golf club in the other for no real reason. It was a bit of a dissapointment. Handling things with the Move controllers in general was a bit of a chore and when I tried the DualShock on my second playthrough, I realized how much better it all worked with that option.

One of the biggest issues I had with the Move controllers came with getting whatever was in my hands stuck in the scenery, especially around doorways. Twice I completely lost an item through a door or wall and couldn’t get it back. A few other times I was able to get the door open and retrieve the object on the other side.

My first playthrough took about two and a half hours with just a bit of wandering. You’re pretty much on the path that’s set for you as your daughter’s texts send you from one place to the next. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much a one and done type of game. Beyond the Trophies, at least two of which will require a second playthrough, there’s no real reason to go back through it again.

When I went in a second time, to try the experience with the DualShock and no VR, I was able to blow through the whole thing in about ten to fifteen minutes simply because I knew where I needed to go and what needed to be done in terms of the puzzles and exploration.

A physical version of the game just released and while I would always recommend physical over digital, I don’t think that I can in this case, at least not in the US, where it’s double the price of the digital version.

I honestly think the physical version was a huge missed opportunity in cross promotion and value. Adding a copy of the movie on the disc would make this a much more worthwhile purchase. I understand that it may not have been possible with rights and different companies involved but I wish someone could have made it happen.

Visuals:
The detail in the environments ranges from fair to excellent. It’s the little things in a room or on a wall that really sell the experience and make it feel more real and for the most part it works here. There are times however when textures or areas just don’t look quite as good.

The biggest problem lies in the physics of some of the objects. You can pick a lot of things up or hit them with an axe or golf club or whatever, but they just fall to the floor in an odd way and never break, except for the few things things that are explicitly meant to for Trophies.

Audio:
The sound is critical in a horror experience and it tends to work really well here with headphones or a surround sound setup. While the storm rages outside, the house creaks and you’ll hear all sorts of noises that’ll keep you on edge.

This helped the game immensely but it wasn’t without its issues. Music would cut off randomly for no apparent reason and the sounds chosen for some of the objects when I was interacting with them just didn’t fit and took me out of the experience pretty quickly.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
As a horror game, Don’t Knock Twice is a decent experience, if a little lackluster. There’s a lot of interactivity with objects around the house, but much of it has no bearing on the gameplay or the story. The atmosphere is certainly creepy and most, though not all, of the jump scares worked and made sense in their placement.

It’s weird because the game does have its moments but there just aren’t enough of them. They also tend to be overshadowed by some of the technical issues and scares that you can see coming a mile away. While it’s a decent game and a somewhat interesting experience, the linear path of the story and puzzles makes a second playthrough pretty meaningless making it hard to recommend at full price.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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