Don’t Knock Twice is a first-person horror available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR and non-VR on PS4. Don’t Knock Twice developer Wales Interactive has since increased their experience in virtual reality game development with Time Carnage, while publisher Perp Games has brought some of the best VR games to PlayStation VR at retail including Moss, Apex Construct, Theseus, Time Carnage, VR Karts, Radial-G: Racing Revolved, Fruit Ninja VR, Perfect, The Assembly, Ultimate VR Collection and more besides. Can Wales Interactive’s and Perp Games’ VR experience result in Don’t Knock Twice being the most atmospheric horror game on PlayStation VR?
The story revolves around the Webb-Thomas family that renovates a house only to find it is haunted by its past occupants. The entire story and backstory involving the female lead character, her daughter and missing people is formed through reading articles, letters and diaries located throughout the house. However, while reading is a good narrative in creating a backstory; some story cutscenes would have elevated the experience from a storytelling point of view. There is also a film with the same title starring Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica and Riddick) and directed by Welsh filmmaker Caradog James (The Machine) that the game is based upon and shares similarities in plot.
The horror tone is immediately established within the opening room as the lounge area is only partially lit by a fireplace; a candle can be found across the room that can be lit from the fireplace to light your character’s immediate surroundings. As soon as the candle is lit, a knocking starts nearby; as your character investigates, a dark figure can be seen outside that hits the window.
Environment design is situated in a haunted house in the Welsh Valleys that has undergone major renovation from its 1700s medieval origins. The haunted mansion features narrow halls, darkly lit rooms and outdoor environments, while the player will need to find keys to open lots of doors; whereas later on in the story there is an axe that can open every door by chopping off door handles.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller that consists of pressing R2 to pick up an object followed by pressing L2 to focus on it while moving the right analogue stick to manoeuvre the object around any angle or pressing R1 to read it and R2 or L1 to put the object down; pressing O to crouch; pressing triangle to produce your character’s mobile phone; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to look from left to right and up or down; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Vibration occurs to reflect the vibrating of your character’s mobile phone when a message is received, while there is no touch pad support that could have provided an alternative to interacting with objects, alongside no light bar implementation that could have displayed through varying colours how close the light of your candle is to going out and leaving your character in total darkness. Elsewhere, PlayStation VR features both full locomotion and teleportation control schemes including PlayStation Move support that also continues to allow the player to interact with objects.
Graphically, Don’t Knock Twice is most impressive in its contrast between darkened rooms and outdoor environments in comparison to when a candle on the wall has been lit that lights the very nearby surroundings of the candle, but not the entire room resulting in a significant contribution to the atmospheric surroundings. Full PlayStation VR compatibility ups the ante of tension as it places the player front row and centre around every door and sound.
Don’t Knock Twice’s presentation is solid with an atmospheric user interface across various menus such as the title menu, settings menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds include an ornate figure of an animal on the front of a door as embers are spread throughout the surroundings.
Every sound effect is geared towards atmospheric surroundings including distant sounds such as creaking floorboards, knocking and doors being slammed shut with environmental sounds such as the ticking of a grandfather clock, alongside heavy rain and sudden lightning strikes. Meanwhile, sound effects are complimented with instrumental music that utilises rhythmic patterns reminiscent of a discord on a grand piano and a sharp quick movement along a string instrument in areas to further increase the sense of horror within the immediate environment. However, there is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced all manner of tense sound effects.
The trophy list includes 29 trophies with 9 bronze trophies, 14 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The majority of the trophy list involves finding collectibles including the Confessions of a Teenager silver trophy for reading Chloe’s diary entries, alongside the Pass bronze trophy, the Merit silver trophy, the Distinction silver trophy and the Dead Clever gold trophy for finding 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% of collectibles respectively; the Family Album silver trophy for finding all family photographs; and more besides. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 5 to 10 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve is highly dependant on how easily the player is scared by horror games, films and TV series; therefore if you are scared by sudden sounds or dark claustrophobic environments, then Don’t Knock Twice will certainly scare you in VR or non-VR and that ultimately affects how likely players would be in completing the game in VR or non-VR.
Don’t Knock Twice does not support social screen multiplayer that would have actually been a great feature as the TV player could have deliberately increased the tension and jump scares for the VR player with more sounds or sporadic sounds positioned throughout the house. Meanwhile, online leaderboards for speed running through the game from the start to finding every object and written articles, letters and diaries would have produced more replay value.
Don’t Knock Twice’s replayability stems from finding an axe later into the story; therefore providing a reason to go back through the mansion to explore every door or cupboard that you could not previously find a key to open, while the non-VR version is also included with the VR release, so you could play in non-VR before working up the courage to play the game again in virtual reality.
- Title: Don’t Knock Twice
- Developer: Wales Interactive
- Publisher: Perp Games
- System: PlayStation VR/PS4
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PlayStation VR and non-VR PS4)
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Hard Drive Space Required: 1.82GB (Version 1.02)