Knock-Knock (Vita) Review + Trophy Guide
Knock-Knock vita Review Trophy Guide
Up for review today is a more recent title, the indie survival-horror puzzler, Knock-Knock. The game was originally a kickstarter which came out for mobile and PC in 2013. It was later released in September of 2015 on PS4, and in February of this year it was ported to the vita. It was made retroactively cross-buy and even has a separate trophy list for the vita and PS4. I played the vita version.The premise of the game is your character lives in an isolated cabin and has been having headaches and terrible nightmares. You wander the halls lighting up rooms while trying to find clocks (to speed up time so dawn comes sooner) and avoiding encounters with ghosts.
The game is divided into two different sections. In the sections when you are awake you explore a procedurally generated house as the main character (who is referred to as "the Lodger") gives vague bits of dialogue about his back-story and searches for diary pages. As the Lodger explores, he holds X to screw in new light bulbs which illuminates the room and allows the player to see and pick up the pages. Once you have done what exploring you want, you exit into the woods. In the woods you can travel from left to right, or press up or down to go to a different horizontal plane. Each forest is about 6 or 7 planes thick before it loops back around to the start and you can see about 3 planes in the background at a time. These sections aren't too enjoyable as it is almost entirely luck-based how fast you will stumble upon the next house or something else that regularly appears in the woods.
Once the Lodger exits from the woods into another house, the nightmare sections begin. Here the player wanders from room to room screwing in light bulbs with the goal of surviving till sunrise. Once the light turns on you are temporarily blinded and you must shut your eyes to allow them to adjust. After a few seconds the Lodger opens his eyes, revealing furniture, grandfather clocks, or diary pages. Pressing up or circle when in front of the clocks causes it to wind forward which speeds up time. If a piece of furniture is large enough that it has a white border when you are touching it, then press up or circle and you will snuff your candle, shut your eyes, and you are able to hide from the ghosts (which the game calls "Guests") if they haven't already spotted you.
After you have changed the light bulbs in a little over half the rooms of a house a strike of lightning will occur and the camera will pan to a certain room (which destroys the room's light bulb) and the player will have about 20 seconds to replace it before a breach occurs. If a breach occurs, ghosts are able to get in and begin patrolling the house, usually on the floor the breach has occurred. Once a breach opens (an eye will appear on the wall when you try to screw in the bulb of a breached room), you can close it by replacing the light bulb, but this will lightly scare you and slightly rewind the clock.
Touching a ghost will give you quite a fright and turn back the clock a large chunk. You can avoid ghosts by climbing up or down to another floor of the house (only one ghost type can climb ladders) or by waiting in a hiding place for a ghost to pass. You can't stay in hiding forever as this will cause time to slowly rewind at about 1/4th the speed that time normally naturally progresses as you explore the house. If the clock rewinds back past the original starting point then the game is over and it resets that nightmare sequence to the beginning.
There is a risk-reward system with the lights. Initially when the room is dark you move through at about half speed. Once the light is turned on you can move at full speed or you can press x to toggle the light back off. The trick is, when the light is on you can't see certain ghosts in the room, it is also harder to see ghosts approaching from the two side rooms. As certain ghosts pass through rooms, if the light it on, they will shatter it (requiring you to replace it again), but will leave it alone if the light is off. When trying to get ahead of a ghost who is chasing you the difference between a half second click to turn on the light to move full speed and being forced to cross a double-wide room at half speed can make all the difference. There are also certain stationary ghosts who occupy dark rooms which you can walk through harmless, but turning on the light agitates them which will scare you and cause you to lose time.
Unfortunately after 3 or 4 nightmare sequences the gameplay doesn't really evolve anymore. The breaches come more frequently and they introduce some new ghost types, but they aren't distinct enough that it requires any change in how you approach clearing the house. There is a mid-game wrinkle about halfway through the game in the awake sections which causes elements of the nightmare realm to bleed into "reality" and create more obstacles for the player, but after the initial adjustment, it doesn't change any in the second half of the game.
Presentation is a bit of a mixed bag. The art style is quite good, it is hand-drawn in kind of a 2.5D, paper mario style with a 2D figure walking in a room with various 2D objects on different planes to give the appearance of 3D. Everything is suitably dark and moody and the ghost designs can are easily distinguishable from each other. Some of the sound effects for the ghosts are quite good and inspire fear, but others fall flat. What particularly fails and kills a bit of the mood is the Lodgers spoken voice. Rather than just let him be silent with text or hire a voice actor to do the lines, he speaks high pitched gibberish. They also didn't record enough of it so you'll begin to hear it repeat sometimes in the same line of dialogue. It's distractingly bizarre and particularly out of place since some of the ghosts speak English. The volume of all the sound was also particularly weak, I had to boost the volume up on my vita well above what I normally do just to hear it. I don't know if that is something specific to the vita version or also a problem on PS4.
I imagine there was some story here in the creator's mind other than the Lodger's growing insanity, but it is entirely too vague to decipher. Rather than do typed text for the diary entries it appears someone hand wrote in print and isn't always easy to read on the vita's screen. You can zoom out to look at the entire layout of the house by holding triangle, but there isn't anyway to zoom in get a closer look at the diary pages. The font they used for the Lodger's dialogue is also a little harder to read. I imagine the difficulty could be alleviated by playing it on a larger screen on the PS4.
A somewhat creepy game with an interesting premise, but fairly mediocre execution. The developer doesn't appear to have had the ability or resources needed to flesh out the concept fully to make the gameplay engaging throughout a 2.5 to 3 hour playthrough.
KNOCK-KNOCK TROPHY GUIDE
As the MSRP for the game is $10, the game is not afforded as robust a trophy list as what it had on PC. It requires at least 2 full playthroughs to 100% the game.
*For Busy with paperwork and Weaving the story the game asks you to collect diary pages, but there are a lot of different pages you pick up while playing the game. Specifically the game is talking about the pages from your own diary which are numbered. Part way through the game you will misplace your diary. Any time after that, in any of the awake segments walk up to the door before winding the clock and try to exit. Every time you run into the door you will get another page. Keep doing this over and over until you get all the pages and both trophies will have popped.
*Nobody Home asks you to hide from the ghosts 10 times. This is in one playthrough, not across multiple playthroughs. You can hide (by pressing up or circle on the right piece of furniture) in a location 3 times, after that the ghosts will instantly find you and you will lose some clock time. In the first part of the game, don't repair the breaches and look for the ghost in a straightjacket which patrols back and forth across a floor. Get in position in the hiding place and then let him go by 3 times before exiting to search for more clocks. Try to do that at least 1 time in each of the first few houses. After the first 5 nightmare sections, the second half of the game is timed so you won't have much time to farm hiding places so try to have all 10 done before then. It's best to go for this trophy on the run in which you are not collecting the fragments of sanity.
*For How's Annie? the game asks you to locate a rare ghost that appears from a breach, the doppelganger. It looks just like you and will speak and say phrases like "it's nice to be home" or something like that. Once you locate the doppelganger run into him and press up or circle to enter him and the trophy will pop.
*They are Legion asks you to run into ten haunters but does not define what is a haunter. These are the stationary ghosts which sometimes appear in the nightmare sequences, but most often appear in the woods in the second half of the game. They do not move and are covered in leaves or have a paper bag over their head. They will also appear in the infinite hallways of a breach. Run into ten of them in a single playthrough.
*Through the looking glass asks you to enter a breach, those are the rooms with the eye on the wall. Once one is located, press up or circle to enter. Another way to enter the breach is to open a door (by holding X) which shakes the screen and the Lodger claims there is something wicked on the other side. Entering by either method will pop the trophy.
Inside a breach is a series of infinite hallways. Closed doors will lead to another infinite hallway and partially ajar doors will either reset the nightmare sequence with a new procedurally generated house or give you a fragment of reality, which that occurs is completely random. Entering a breach to reset the house can also be helpful if you get stuck with a less than advantageous house layout (such as two ghosts patrolling the same floor) or if you want to farm stationary haunters for the trophy. Just don't stay too long in the breach or you will go insane (shown by the progression of the black veins on the screen) and the game will be over.
*Knowing the flipside tasks you with seeing all the fragments of reality in one playthrough, there are eight in total. These are short, surreal animated sequences which you can acquire in two different ways. During the awake sections, search the forest for a girl. Once you find her, position yourself in the plane below her, face her, then press up to jump to the next plane and run into her. If you do it correctly, it triggers the fragment. If not, she will disappear and reappear somewhere else in the forest. Keep tracking her down until the fragment plays. Once it does, locate the house as you can only get 1 fragment per awake sequence. The other way to get a fragment is in a breach. An ajar door in the infinite hallway will either reset the nightmare sequence with a new house layout or give you the fragment.
In the second half of the game the white line at the top of the screen (which represents your sanity) will slowly begin to shrink on a timer. If you don't beat the game before the Lodger's sanity completely depletes, then it will be game over and you'll have to restart from the beginning. You can get 5 fragments from the woods before the game starts to become timed so if you can locate 3 fragments in the breaches of the first 5 nightmare sequences you won't have to waste any time looking for the girl in the forest when you are on the clock.
*Pagurian and Breaking the Circle are endgame trophies. Beating the game before the white thread of sanity depletes with 5+ fragments of sanity will get you one ending and beating the game with less than 5 fragments of sanity will get you the other.