Don't Knock Twice Review

By Mark Delaney, 2 months ago
You'd be forgiven if you didn't know Don't Knock Twice is a movie tie-in game. The indie horror had a limited release a year ago in some European countries before moving to the US in February of this year. It's a bit strange for a tie-in game to arrive so long after its companion film has come and gone, but according to the movie's critical reception, the game is at least faithful in that it is not good.

Don't Knock Twice image

Don't Knock Twice is a first-person exploration horror in the vein of so many other recent genre titles. Because it's comfortable not pushing that proverbial envelope, it falls into many of the same traps as so many before it. With every moment being so predetermined and scripted, there's no tension in any scene. When horrors utilize walking sim mechanics in this way, they all but guarantee there will never be any legitimate threats to the player, thus it becomes a sort of meta-analysis of the game's design. It's hard to convince yourself that you should be worried or frightened when it's obvious games of this nature so often don't even build other character models or offer any complex scenes before the player's eyes.

Someday, such a game will arrive that presents itself as more of the same from this genre but it will dare to abandon its own rails, which in turn will subvert expectations and instill a real sense of fear in players. Don't Knock Twice is not that game. Although there's some enjoyment to be had in exploring the big house in search of the next breadcrumb and story segment, none of it equates to enough to keep things interesting. Making it worse, those breadcrumbs usually aren't far from one another within the house you'll explore over the course of the 90 minute game. If they were literal breadcrumbs they would be separated only by a few feet between each pair of them.

The game holds your hand, ends rather abruptly, doesn't scare, and most remarkably fails to tell a cohesive plot even as it's following the film's blueprint. It's obvious quite often that the budget is the cause of many of the game's problems. It's easier to give indie games a longer leash when it comes to money, but plenty of other indies smartly work around their lack of funds. Don't Knock Twice is a game that needed to use some voice acting, improve its lighting, and fix its animations, but blatantly lacked the finances or the care to include these improvements. A scene toward the end so obviously needs voice acting but apparently hiring such talent just wasn't in the budget for this tie-in, and thus whatever story was told in the feature film is broken and lost in the video game.

It's forgettable in every way, but at least it supplies a quick and easy gamerscore boost.It's forgettable in every way, but at least it supplies a quick and easy gamerscore boost.

The game has few redeeming qualities at all, although for a quick game it may be someone's idea of a good time if they really enjoy games such as Gone Home and find themselves willing to play anything that remotely resembles it. Don't Knock Twice isn't clever, impactful, or even as tense and atmospheric as Gone Home, which is a real damning distinction given which one is truly the horror title of the two. Still, if you must play all games that let you explore a house wordlessly, there is some small enjoyment to be had in Don't Knock Twice; just understand that it'll be over as quickly as its movie version and arguably less interesting.

The part of the game this community may uniquely find redeeming is its easy achievement list. There are 28 in total, but you can get most of them with such minimal effort that it leaves really just a small handful that will require paying any attention. The list mentions several types of collectibles but all of them except the Russian dolls were found without a guide. It helps that they glow in the otherwise dark rooms. Plenty of story unlocks will come naturally too. There are two different endings and although they should be able to be unlocked with a bit of save manipulation, a bug currently prevents that outcome right now. For now, two playthroughs are needed but with a guide you can easily play it twice in under two hours and get the full 1000 gamerscore.

Summary

The singular lasting impression of Don't Knock Twice is one of bewilderment that it somehow exists at all. A movie tie-in game for a limited release and poorly reviewed film that wrapped its quiet and brief theater tour over half a year ago is not the mark of something promising. Ultimately, the game is exactly what it appears to be: bare bones, forgettable, and not worth your time. Horror fans have too many better choices these days, and fans of first-person exploration games have a growing list of their own. Put Don't Knock Twice at the bottom of each of those lists and only get around to it when you've exhausted all other options.
1.5 / 5
Positives
  • Some fun exploration
Negatives
  • Not scary
  • Entirely scripted moments mean you're never in any danger
  • Story misses details presumably present in the movie
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 90 minutes exploring the haunted house within Don't Knock Twice. On the way he collected 24 of 28 achievements for 665 gamerscore. An Xbox One copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.