Kholat was developed and published by IMGN.PRO. It was released on Steam June 9th, 2015 for $19.99. A review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
Kholat is an horror-adventure/exploration game based on the Dyatlov Pass Incident. The tragic and mysterious event involved nine Russian hikers who ventured out to the Kholat Syakhl mountains in high hopes to climb its daunting size but, unfortunately, met an untimely end. The reasoning behind their deaths is still unsolved to this day.
What I Enjoyed:
Walk in the park – Despite the dreadful and mournful winter setting the game visuals are its highest peak. The visuals create a lot of realism and utilize it to present a haunting experience that will surely leave your skin crawling. Every sway of the frosted pine trees to the brisk snowy winds are so evident in detail that it only furthers the fear players will endure when embarking on the Dyatlov Pass trail. The title fully optimizes subversiveness in the game by adding stunning imagery as well as sounds that results in an unpleasant yet necessary experience to grasp the terror that had befallen the nine mountaineers.
Storytelling – The game dwells deep into laying the foundation of the Dyatlov Pass incident by relishing players who have no prior knowledge to the horrific events that took place; it provides basic information while foretelling theorized depictions of what resulted on that eventful night. The story paints grotesque imagery at the beginning which hooks the player initially and makes for an interesting play through.
Simple is best – The gameplay mechanics are not meant to detract from the story or the exploration. Keeping the game style simplistic allows it to not be the focal point of the game. While possessing the generic run, zoom, and flashlight commands, the game also introduces players to a map and compass that are unlike other games’ versions as this maps does not record your current location. Instead, this special map reveals conspiring events and potential save-points disguised as campfires.
What I Disliked:
Square one – The difficulty appears when players are not utilizing the map and compass effectively, which results in endless walking/running around the same dead tree stump or the same creepy, grinning totem poll. To prevent this you must understand how to get to the desired location by locating the set of coordinates written on your map. This unfortunately requires some map navigational skills and proper compass usage as well as memorizing key landscape structure. Over time those who are prone to stubbornness (like myself) who are using these available tools prove more as an annoyance and tedious.
Turtle’s pace – The threats in the game seem to be minimal at times. The game implements a running command that ends sporadically. It offers a nerve wrecking sensation when pursued by predators but will frustrate you when simply try to find an unexplored area. This results in a whole play through that almost appears to go at a turtle’s pace. Players must use the running command spaciously and in spurts or risk exerting the character’s stamina. Sadly, the recovering time is longer than the running duration so plan your actions accordingly.
The story of Kholat brought me through an unnerving adventure, successfully making me question every sudden sound I heard. The game did a wonderful job with the atmosphere but the endless roaming sometimes made the game feel like a walking simulation instead of a horrific adventure. Despite that, I really enjoyed the time I’ve had playing this game and found myself lost in its storytelling.
Score: Buy it now
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