Horror games have been available on handheld devices for years, but it’s not been until recently with the PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo Switch that we’ve really started to see fear inducing games that can be properly enjoyed on the go. With Outlast 1 and 2 arriving on the Nintendo Switch amongst countless others in recent times, and graphical and computational power at an all time high for handheld devices, the opportunity to enjoy a good scare is now available on almost every device. But how does one of the latest scare fests to join the Nintendo Switch hold up.
The game in question is Don’t Knock Twice, the first-person horror adventure loosely based around the 2016 film starring Katee Sackhoff, as it pits you into the confines of an old and creepy dimly-lit manor house somewhere within the countryside. As with most horrors, our protagonist has come to this spooky house with very little to save us from the expected haunting within… and to keep us safe from the horror that lurks inside we are left with nothing more than a mobile phone and a candle.
The story found in Don’t Knock Twice is a rather simple one – albeit one that is overused in the horror genre. The daughter of our protagonist is missing, all clues point toward the eerie manor house we are now stood in and desperation is setting in after suspecting she is connected to the local urban legend worthy of campfire storytelling gold.
At the start of the game you’re given very little tale to go on, but as you progress through the creepy corridors and large open rooms with nothing but your candle lighting the way, and shadows stalking your every move, things begin to progress. Progression usually comes in the form of finding clues hidden within various objects that you interact with, such as newspaper articles, dairy entries or photographs that are littered throughout the house. Eventually you’ll also find the story progressing via text messages received from the missing daughter to the protagonist’s mobile, further shedding light on things whilst also providing a good jump scare. I won’t ruin the story, but there is enough involved to keep you interested as you chase the trail of a fleeting female figure through the deserted house.
The exploration and general creepy feel to the environment play a big part of the game and the general horror experience as a whole, however it’s not all exploration and there are a number of surprisingly tricky, yet manageable puzzles to engage in. These keep things feeling fresh and interesting, as well as helping to break up the narrative path that Don’t Knock Twice follows.
There are also a surprising number of items you’ll need to locate, such as an axe, and plenty of other objects that work to create rather deadly weapons. You won’t find any true combat in this one as all items you collect are used as progressive tools rather than murderous aids, but that once again allows the tension to build as you navigate the darkened halls hoping to steer clear of anything preparing to go bump in the night.
Whilst you’ll only find a narrative adventure on offer here, there’s very little to complain about. Don’t Knock Twice may only be a few hours long, but if you’re after an engaging story that doesn’t forcefully hand every bit of story to you on a plate and don’t mind putting in a genuine effort to uncover every last drop of storytelling, then it is certainly a game you’ll find plenty of enjoyment from… and just the right amount of scares.
Another positive aspect that deserves a mention is the rather fantastic job that has been done on the game’s audio. For me, the sound is one of the most important aspects of any horror game and having grown up with games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill leaving their haunting soundtracks engraved in my mind, the audio is always one of the first things I notice. Fortunately, the developers have this area mastered in Don’t Knock Twice and from the distant effects of crashing and deep music from afar, to the much more personal touch of heavy breathing, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Wales Interactive have used everything at their disposal to create the perfect audio to go alongside this horror adventure.
Sadly, the visuals don’t always match that same level of brilliance and whilst the game does look rather decent from afar, there is the odd jolt that can break the immersion; textures don’t always look their finest should you have an item in focus when interacting. In general, the visuals aren’t disappointing, and the gameplay flickers do only occur on the odd occasion, but with such care seemingly poured into the rest of the game, it would have been nice to see an utterly smooth finish in the visual department also.
Overall and if you’re a fan of horror, enjoy a good jump scare, don’t mind a typical horror storyline and like to explore every nook and cranny of your games and feel rewarded for doing so, then Don’t Knock Twice is a game you should definitely want to be getting involved in. It’s not exactly ground-breaking and it does bring a lot of things we’ve seen countless times before, but it is a capable horror experience and one that is thoroughly enjoyable.
Release date: October 2017
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)