Don’t Knock Twice, a VR experience (or lack thereof if you’re on Xbox) that ties in with the movie that shares the same name. If you haven’t seen the flick, worry not, it’s nothing special. What about the game? Well, let me put it like this. Do you know that age old curse that follows pretty much any game-to-movie (Assassin’s Creed) or movie-to-game (Ghostbusters) transition? Being that they tend to suck? That applies here as well as it does for just about any other crappy tie-in that serves as no other reason than to be a cheap cash-cow. Ironically, I look at the title and couldn’t agree more. Maybe the developers should have caught that hint when crafting the game, eh?
Having played this on the Xbox One, I cant at all offer forward an opinion based on the VR capabilities that this houses on the PS4 / PC version. What I can say is that the game is about as pleasant as dropping a brick on your bare foot. Don’t Knock Twice is a first person psychological horror that’s based on the iconic urban legend found in the source material. You’re instantly dropped into the game at the mercy of a grand manor house where all of the electricity has failed. You take on the role of a sober drug addict that’s tasked with saving her estranged daughter from a demonic witch that’s set its sights on her. This story thread kicks off almost instantly, but then again, that’s not saying much when the game is over and done with, within 90 minutes. Make of that what you will…
The game encourages you to search the manor for helpful tips and added backstory, but with that in mind, the notion of exploration feels very on-rails. Don’t Knock Twice wants you go down this route, so down this route you will go. Don’t Knock Twice wants you to go through that door, so through that door you will go. I say it feels on-rails, because most of these additional items you pick up are generally in the same path that the story takes you down, so there’s very little to take you off the beaten path, which is in itself a bizarre design choice. Much of your time with the game will revolve around navigating the manor and a small portion of the surrounding grounds. You’re not immediately allowed to freely explore, but instead must first tolerate the ever so original slamming of open doors and creaking of floorboards as you eventually find yourself an axe, which can then be used to smash open doors to allow you that extra bit of leisure.
As alluded to above, Don’t Knock Twice takes place in the dark due to a fault with the electrics. You do carry a candle with you which will randomly blow out, but even when ignited, it does very little to light up your surroundings. What it doesn’t do is hide the poor animations that you’ll witness upon nearly every single action that you attempt to execute. Your arm will vanish through walls, your shadow will hover above ground, and if you’re lucky you might just see the delay in the graphical rendering, which happens more often than I cared to count. If that wasn’t enough to demonstrate how cheaply developed this game is, try the tedious notion of simply opening a door. Yes, opening a door in this game is as infuriating as the constant “I hate you” text messages that you’ll receive from your daughter.
In an attempt to lengthen the game, the devs have implemented a movement speed that a snail would be proud of, and the same can be said when trying to look left or right. Seriously, your character moves as though she’s mistaken her slippers for a pair of damn breeze-blocks. If this game had the movement speed of a normal person, say Ethan from Resident Evil 7, I dare say that Don’t Knock Twice could be nuked in 30 minutes or less. It’s unfortunate because if there’s one thing that I took away from the movie, it’s that it had heaps of wasted opportunity and potential. I saw the movie before playing the game, so to come out of this experience knowing that the game could have quite easily have outdone the film, only to actually be worse than it, was somewhat of a shock.
What I will say about the game is that it does bring the atmosphere. It may be full to the brim of cheap jump scares and cliches, but it wears them well and managed to catch me off-guard on more than one occasion. The story is told through a collection of text messages, letters, and visual aspects, but nothing really makes much sense until you hit the conclusion. It’s a pretty decent story that only falls flat due to its short length and poor delivery. I can only imagine that the VR experience is the best way to play this game, because on the TV with a controller in hand, just doesn’t feel good at all. There are some puzzle solving elements to be had, but most of these typically require trial and error, or a simple case of paying attention to where you have to go. What I will say however is that the visuals do well to hold up the location of the game. It’s a good looking game that brings some solid details along with, but that’s not enough to save it from everything else that pulls this experience down.
Don’t Knock Twice is every bit as dire as the movie counterpart. There’s problems with the animations, there’s very little to take you off the beaten path, it’s a very short game that clocks in at roughly 90 minutes worth of play, there’s texture issues that you’ll need to contend with, and if the snail pace movement speed wont frustrate you, the tedious nature of simply opening a door will get the job done. On the flip side the game does offer up some nicely detailed environments that brings with it a creepy atmosphere, but that’s not enough to justify any invested time or money. When Don’t Knock Twice wants to scare you, you’ll jump out of your skin, often only because you’re so distracted by frustration to see it coming.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.