I actually feel guilty giving this one this sort of score, since it’s (a) an indie game that was funded on Kickstarter and (b) this is the first less-than-good score I’ve dished out for a game. It’s not a horrible game. In fact, it’s quite visually engaging…
I guess that’s my problem with it, in the end. After five hours of total game time, I should have more good things to say about a game than, “Well. The artistic design certainly is interesting.” And I should at least know how to play it, right? That should be something someone knows at the end of a game, right – how to play it?
But… Hey. Knock-Knock. The artistic design certainly is interesting.
Release Date: October 4, 2013
Developer(s): Ice-Pick Lodge
Publisher(s): Ice-Pick Lodge
Platform(s) Played: PC
You are in control of a character known simply as “the Lodger”: a completely unbalanced fellow with this whole mad-scientist fashion plate thing going on who fancies himself a style of academic he calls a “worldologist.” He has lost something – something which must be found in order for the mystery of just what the hell is going on to be solved. And in order to do that, you have to survive each surreal night until dawn.
The Lodger lives alone in a cabin he inherited which was once used as a laboratory, and it is this cabin and the surrounding woods which make up the entirety of the locations for this game. Throughout the night, the Lodger is haunted by mysterious apparitions referred to as “Guests” and strange noises that should be impossible when one lives alone: doors banging, clocks ticking, and disembodied voices. The only powers that seem to keep the Lodger safe from the menacing forces with which he is trapped are running and hiding. And changing out light bulbs.
(1) The artistic design certainly is interesting. No, really, it is! The entire game has an Edward Gorey sort of feel to it that was very nifty.
The Bantha Poodoo
(1) You’re going to die. Just get that in your head right now and accept it, lest you get discouraged later on. You will make mistakes, every action you take will blow up in your face, and you will get yourself killed… but the mechanics are such that you will never know what mistake it was you made that thrust you into the choir celestial, thus you will never completely understand how or why you are dead. And this will happen over. And over. And over.
(2) The mechanics mentioned above are pretty wonky, really. The entire story relies on clues to help solve each night’s set of puzzles… but the clues make no sense and the puzzles adhere to no pattern or set of rules whatsoever. The rooms of the cabin move and morph at random, disembodied voices offer guidance that is helpful one moment and harmful the next, items presumed to be hints appear and disappear without explanation. And all the while, the Lodger is creeping around, babbling incoherently to himself – except for those moments when he decides to provoke the baddies, at which point you find yourself back up at number one above.
(3) Like all survival games, fighting simply is not an option – and this isn’t a problem… at least not for games like Clock Tower, Haunting Ground, Fatal Frame, and Amnesia. But Knock-Knock removes the ability to fight back without providing you with any sort of alternative – short of ducking behind a gurney and running up and down ladders, you’re pretty much SOL.
(4) You can run up and down the ladders all over the house… oooooor you can simply sit and wait out the clock. Seriously – that is perfectly doable. And, really, it’s about the only thing that you can do that will make the game make any sort of sense: the sun will come up, that is your one constant, and the game gives you absolutely no reason to leave the safety of the light… so why bother, right?