Despite both being visual story telling mediums, something about video game and movie tie ins just don’t mix. This means that my expectations for Don’t Knock Twice – a game loosely based on the movie of the same name from 2016 – were expressly low. To heighten my doubt about the potential with this game, its worth noting that it was released more than a year after its movie counterpart.
Yet upon launch it became evident that a lot of care had gone into crafting the world of Don’t Knock Twice. The game’s roots in VR are quite notable, as it takes on a first person perspective and encourages exploration of the giant mano. There’s careful attention to detail littered throughout the environment of Don’t Knock Twice, from creepy crows lurking in the courtyard to creaking floors and doors slamming mysteriously behind you. Players take control of Jess, an accomplished artist struggling to overcome a history of substance abuse. During the period in her life that was lost to drugs, Jess also lost custody of her daughter, Chloe. As of the beginning of Don’t Knock Twice, Jess and Chloe have been reunited. However, their familial relationship is obviously strained. Chloe routinely sends Jess texts throughout the course of the game with such dramatic lines as “Why are you doing this?” and “I wish you were dead.”
Don’t Knock Twice doesn’t go out of its way to break the first person horror exploration genre that has countless other titles under its belt, but that doesn’t negate that its a solid entry. Similar to Bloober Team’s Layers of Fear, Don’t Knock Twice drops players into creep, expansive mansion at the height of a horrible thunderstorm. Additionally, a lot of exploration and scare mechanics seen in Don’t Knock Twice will reminds players of Layers of Fear, such as when windows burst unexpectedly in front of a player or when art flies off the wall. Despite encouraging players to explore the expansive home, Don’t Knock Twice does lock players into a linear story, as doors will lock behind the player once a room has been fully inspected and left behind. This leads to my one negative experience with an otherwise well made horror game.
During one particular instance in the game, players are able to find and acquire an ax. This ax can be used to bust open locked doors and cabinets, and is necessary to progress through one of the game’s puzzles. While playing, I had acquired the ax, and was subsequently locked out of the room following my progression. At this point, I had to save and shut down the game. Unfortunately for me, when I returned to my save file the following morning my character had lost the ax that had previously been in hand. Because I had progressed, the door to the room where the ax is acquired was closed, and without an ax to bust open the door I was left out in the cold. Unable to backtrack or progress, I had no choice but to restart the entire game. From the beginning.
Even though I was forced to reset my progress, I didn’t mind the chance to re-explore some areas that I had previously went through hastily. Don’t Knock Twice doesn’t make an attempt to cram the story down the player’s throat, rather leaving it up to the player to explore and locate collectibles and diaries in order to uncover what’s truly going on. While the strained relationship between Jess and Chloe is a prominent aspect of the story, it’s not Don’t Knock Twice’s bread and butter. The real tipping point into the terrifying is the inclusion of the urban legend of the demonic witch, Baba Yaga, and the ritual that is occurring in the home to raise her from the dead.
It all boils down to a truly creepy experience that fans of horror won’t want to miss out on.