Developed by:Ice-Pick Lodge Published by:Ice-Pick Lodge Genre(s):
  • Survival
  • Platform:
  • Handhelds
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$9.99 ESRB Rating:RATING PENDING Players:1 Release date:October 4, 2013 Reviewed on:PC


    It’s interesting how a game may seem great when you only get to play a small portion of it. A lot of hype can be built up on the promise of a good game, based on a preview. And while most games don’t deviate too far from what was previewed, outside of addressing issues and concerns, sometime things change for the worse. In the case of Ice-Pick Lodge’s survival horror-esk title, Knock-Knock, there wasn’t enough of a change between the preview build and the final product.

    Knock-Knock follows the story of a hermit (called the Lodger) that lives alone in a big house in the middle of a forest. Every night he is plagued by the Visitors, ghost-like beings that love to play hide-and-seek. In order to beat them, and survive the night, all he has to do is stay away from them until sunrise. Of course that’s easier said than done as more of them start to appear inside his house. Hiding isn’t the best option – they already know his exact location within the house.

    The game is played from a side view of the house with the inner rooms exposed. Each night the Lodger awakens to find his house in disarray; the rooms are in different places than they were the night before and many if not all, of the light bulbs will be broken. In an effort to put things right, he (you) will need to go through each room and repair the light that’s gone out. Doing so will reveal the contents of the room as the Lodger focuses his eyes. This is the basic gameplay mechanic that will be repeated each night. Specific nights will add different elements that changes up the flow of the game. For instance, the nights that feature the visitors task the player with making it to sun up. A flash of lighting will illuminate a room, indicating that something is going to try and enter the house at that location. Moving to that room and fixing the light will block that breach. However, if you wait too long, a visitor will show up and start haunting the house.

    There are multiple types of visitors, all with different behaviors. Some will search the entire house using the sound of your footsteps to track you from room to room. Others will just be content with haunting the halls and/or rooms that are adjacent to the rooms they appeared in. All of them are frightening in their own right and won’t stop looking for you until you’ve repaired the light in their rooms (or the sun comes up of course). Some of the creepiest visitors are the ones that look like children, hiding in the shadows. They won’t bother you unless you “see” them and will wait for you to turn on the lights. Outside of just appearing next to you at random moments, they also have a friendly demeanor making them even scarier. Like something that’s trying to pass itself off as being normal yet is anything but; even through the smiles you feel that they are really dangerous. Depending on which visitors show up, you’ll have to change tactics to maneuver around them. Again, hiding only works for so long. Even if a visitor doesn’t notice you, the Lodger’s growing fear will cause time to slow down. Eventually, hiding will cause time to start moving backwards, increasing the wait for the sun to come up.

    On the nights that don’t feature the visitors, your job is to repair the lights in the house to make sure everything is in order. For some reason, on nights like this, time stands still. In order to move things along, you’ll have to find a weird looking clock that somewhat resembles the main character. There is no danger, though doors will slam and lights will flicker to give off a scary vibe. After you find the clock, time will move forward. Then all of a sudden the front door will open, prompting the Lodger to investigate by going out into the woods surrounding his house. These parts can drag on as there’s no indication that you’re going in the right or wrong direction. Early on, this results in blind wandering where nothing of interest really happens. Later in the game, there will be Visitors standing in the bushes or behind trees as if waiting for you to run into them. Still, nothing of any real concern – they’re easy to avoid. Adding to this is the fact that there isn’t anything to do out there besides walking. You’ll eventually wander back to the house, ending the level/night as you progress through the game.

    So far, what I’ve mentioned was what was included in the preview version of the game. The full version added some elements that were missing previously. Unfortunately, I still feel as if the game isn’t finished. On one hand the new elements helped me to better understand what was going on. You see, Knock-Knock is shrouded in mystery. Why is the Lodger visited by apparitions? What is the deal with the treks through the forest at night? What do the weird visions mean? Is this all in his head or is he in real danger? What in the world is that giant creature creeping towards his house? All of these questions bounced around in my head during my playthrough of the both versions of the game. This time though, I was able to find more pages of the Lodger’s missing diary; the one thing that’s supposed to explain what was happening. Reading these pages, I was able to piece together that something terrible happened in his past that resulted in him taking refuge in the woods. This also led to his current state of mind; he doesn’t remember most days and his nights are sleepless.

    There are also more visions this time around. Bumping into a certain ghostly figure in the woods will cause the Lodger to experience hallucinations. It’s like he’s being transported into a Salvador Dali painting, accompanied by eerie music. This pushes me to believe that a lot of what happens in game isn’t real, though I’m never given any real evidence to confirm my suspicions. To be honest, almost nothing is explained at all. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing mind you; if the developers want to leave things in the air for possible debates later, that’s fine. On the other hand, I feel that in this case there is something more that the devs wanted to get across in their game, mainly because there seems to be elements missing.

    For instance, one of the descriptions of the game explained that you’ll have a limited inventory in which to place useful items found around the house. It literally says “You may come across some useful items that might help your survival, but those items are always random and your inventory is limited to 5 slots, so your gear changes by night.” After playing through the entire game, I’ve yet to find one item. That seems to be the case with other people as well; none of the walkthroughs or “Let’s Play” videos online show any type of inventory or items to collect. Moreover, even if I was able to find an item I wouldn’t know what to use it for. As of right now, there is nothing in the game that requires the use of an item. Although you’ll need to unlock doors and repair lights, no tools or keys are needed to do so. To be fair, the notion of an inventory or collectable items has sense been removed from all of the game’s advertisement. This could lead one to think that the game is finished but for some reason, there seems to be some residual elements. Late in the game the Lodger will speak about finding useful items in a room (after his eyes adjusted to the light). I could be reading into this, he could have been talking about the usefulness of the room under normal circumstances, but it’s still a bit misleading to someone who saw the description about a working inventory.

    Then there are the notes that are found in the game. They aren’t found in specific places as they seem to be randomly generated; you’ll walk into a room and all of a sudden the screen will be covered by a piece of paper. They also aren’t complete. After a certain point they just stop coming, as if the writer was cut off. This could be because the developers wanted to be vague and not explain everything out right. Actually, that’s most likely the reason as I got an achievement for finding all of the documents. What is annoying though is how it all feels so haphazardly put in the game. There doesn’t seem to be a method to the madness – just a pulling of strings to invoke fear and curiosity from the audience that will ultimately not lead to anything noteworthy. At least that’s how I felt at the game’s conclusion.

    Now I believe that this is the full game; I’ve checked Steam and there are no statements describing this as an alpha or beta build. And I could have missed something during my playthrough. But my feelings are still valid in that it seems to be a deeper meaning or reasoning behind the events that take place in the game. However, I feel as if the developers didn’t convey what they were trying to get across very well. Instead of being mystical and/or thought provoking due to its surreal nature, Knock-Knock comes off like an unfinished experiment. A shame really; it has so many good things going for it. I mean, it has a unique premise, mechanics, and visuals that all give off an otherworldly vibe. These elements plus a clever use of unnerving sound effects and music help make it truly scary at times. I’m not sure what the end goal was though. As interesting as Knock-Knock is, I can’t recommend it 100% nor would it feel right to tell gamers to stay away. It may be a copout to say that you have to experience it for yourself, but that’s the best I can do. Who knows, you might get something more out of it than I did.



    Knock-Knock is a creepy game with a unique premise. Unfortunately, it falls short of being great do to the overwhelming feeling of being incomplete.



    I like the way the game looks as the visuals helps to push this surreal world onto the gamer.



    The sound effects are unnerving to say the least.

    What's New:


    The premise is the best thing about the game. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what genre to place it in

    Replay Value:


    I can see people going back to play to see if they missed something, primarily because the game feels incomplete (the notion that there’s just got to be more). Other than that, this is a onetime experience.

    Final Score:


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