Have You Played… Knock, Knock?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Deeply weird and fantastically stylish, Knock, Knock – a Russian studio’s examination of insomnia and being afraid of the dark – is one of the best games of the past couple of years. Just don’t expect to understand it all.

I think there’s a certain part of us that just craves to weird and the mysterious, and the more sinister those unexplained bumps in the night of our consciousness are, the more delicious they can be. Knock, Knock is all this, and something completely out of the normal range of games. A 2D side-scroller, sure, but that’s about where it parts ways with the rest of gaming. It’s about patrolling a big spooky house, at night, and making sure THINGS don’t get in. As the nights pass, the house gets bigger, and your character gets weirder, and the things in the house get closer, and more terrifying.

Knock, Knock, is a game that looks for, and finds, the anxieties which haunt us. Even when we’re not scared of the dark, we’re still apprehensive. Even when this game doesn’t do jump-scares or threat by being eaten alive by monsters, it does something that searches a bit deeper. It’s a deep, dark thing and makes me shudder to think of the dark nights I spent alone with it.

Play it. If for no other reason that it is a horror game like no other.

20 Comments

  1. Eukatheude says:

    As a long term sufferer of sleep disorder, and thankully former sleep disorder medication abuser, I still can’t quite fathom why I haven’t played this yet. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Slouch says:

      I can’t play it precisely because of my sleep problems. The thought of playing something that might bring up the same feelings I feel alone in my apartment unable to sleep is deeply unpleasant.

  2. deejayem says:

    Funnily enough, I’ve been playing it this week. I love the look and feel, but I’m completely stuck on quite an early level – just cannot seem to get through the night.

    • Macciavelo says:

      It gets easier once you get the “rules” of the game. The monsters act by certain rules, by how they appear, where do they appear, etc. Think about it like this: The time is hp. It slowly regenerates, but if you bump against a monster, you lose hp.

      If you are still stuck, there are guides on steam explaining the rules of the game more deeply, but I advise you to try to figure them out by yourself. And whatever you do, don’t listen to the hermit. Most of the times, he will be giving useless advice. Figure out the rules by yourself.

      • deejayem says:

        Thanks. I think I understand how time works, and how to fill rooms with furniture and hide in them. The problem I have is being trapped in rooms with no cover by Things that send me back to the start. Is it like The Void, ie bastard hard, or am I just doing it wrong?

        • MuscleHorse says:

          You should also remember that what the game ‘tells’ you isn’t always true.

          I love it when I realise a game is misleading you and this is one of them.

  3. forddent says:

    I put about an hour into this when it came out (I backed it on Kickstarter solely on the strength of it being an Ice Pick Lodge joint), and it frightened me on a level I didn’t realize was possible. I’ve been thinking I should go back to it, if only to see where everything eventually goes.

    • SuddenSight says:

      I was going to make this exact post (except I was a launch-buyer, not a backer). I remember making it through the first 2 nights or so just fine, and thinking “this will be a nice quick side-scroller.” And then there was things and I was scared. And every couple months I consider finishing it, but an overwhelming dread makes me shrink away again. Someday, probably.

  4. slerbal says:

    Ooh yes, thanks for the reminder. This drifted out of my mental net!

    I love this series of articles, though I’d love them to be a bit longer I understand they are probably fairly constrained.

    • Niko says:

      Yeah, they’ve actually made a decision to stay small. Ubisoft made them an offer at Gamescom 2014, but they’ve declined it.

  5. LTK says:

    The title stylization makes the RPS articles about this game a bit harder to find. Most are filed under the ‘knock knock’ tag, but the title of the game is actually ‘Knock-Knock’ with a hyphen instead of with a space or comma.

    I went back to the WIT to find my comment about how this game made me feel.

    “What makes Knock-Knock so effective is that it exploits everyday irrational fears. Other horror games may make you afraid of being horribly murdered by a creature made entirely of knives and spiders, but that’s not something that anyone can expect to encounter in their everyday lives.

    Knock-Knock says that if you think about something bad happening, it will come true. It tells you that things can come into your house in the night. It makes you believe that you can make your fears become reality. It says that the nightmares will pass, but that there will be something waiting for you when you wake up.

    The entire game is like a journey through the mind of a severely damaged individual. What you see in this game, there are people for whom all this is a reality, something they suffer through every day. I think that’s the scariest thing about it.”

  6. DrScuttles says:

    It seemed very easy to get stuck in a no-win state near the end of the game (which I suppose qualifies as a bad ending of sorts), but great atmosphere, perfect length and some of the hauntings really freaked me out. I like to imagine Ice-Pick Lodge being baffled by the idea that some of us don’t intrinsically understand everything in it.

  7. Gog Magog says:

    This game was a bit much for me and I can’t even explain why. But it certainly is a helluva thing.

  8. meepmeep says:

    I really liked the oppressive atmosphere of this game, but I got stuck very early on, unable to understand the mechanics or what I was meant to be doing to progress.

  9. Pantsman says:

    I haven’t played this, but a few years ago I marathoned IPL’s The Void over three days while at home from work with a bad flu. Its darkly surreal art and constant atmosphere of low-grade anxiety mirrored exquisitely my addled mind and aching body. Never have I had a game experience so exquisitely in-tune with my inner state at the time of playing. I never actually finished the game – it was too hard in the end – but I treasure the experience, even though I wouldn’t want to repeat it.

    • twaitsfan says:

      I treasure the experience, even though I wouldn’t want to repeat it.

      This also seems to be common to Ice Pick games (well, except maybe Cargo).

      • Jalan says:

        Because most of them are real ballbusters in terms of difficulty (which is not to say they can’t be finished, but after they’ve beaten you down through your continued failures, a suitable option to save yourself a death from rage-induced heart attack is simply to quit).

  10. tumbleworld says:

    “Deeply weird and fantastically stylish” is Ice-Pick in a nutshell…

  11. Razumen says:

    Great little game, but the lack of saving or checkpoints, and the fact that the sanity meter is never explained until you find out that preserving it is necessary to reaching the good ending and the only thing you can do is restart the game since it’s ridiculously easy to get stuck in a un-winnable loop after hours of gameplay, well that turned me off of it pretty badly.

    People have made the argument to me that Ice-Pick lodge’s games are not supposed to be “fun”, and that’s all fine and dandy since it’s a “horror” game, but for me, this just could have been a bit better designed.