(PC) Kholat | Review
Follow Release Date: June 9th, 2015

Genre: Horror/Adventure

(PC) Kholat | Review

Kholat is a horror game developed by IMGN.PRO. The game is based on the true-event known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident (click the link if you want to know more about said incident). In Kholat players take on the role of some person walking through the mountains and collecting notes and avoiding some teleporting/slow-moving entity (very similar to Slender) all while being narrated by the ever-famous, man who always dies, Sean Bean. The notes you are collecting are supposed to reveal the story and events around the Dyatlov Pass Incident but there really doesn’t seem to be much of a story present in Kholat and it feels more like the developers didn’t exactly know what they were doing and decided to just adopt the tired, and stale Slender formula we’ve been seeing in indie-horror titles as of late, which is a huge bummer coming from Kholat.

Basing a game around the events of the Dyatlov Pass Incident should be a solid premise, and make an amazing horror game but that doesn’t exactly happen when you dip into Kholat. Instead you get a pretty boring, and frustrating game that feels like a chore to progress through, and doesn’t offer much in terms of excitement or enjoyment. You’re thrown into an ‘open-world’ environment that looks gorgeous, I won’t deny that. Kholat is one damn good looking game, thanks to Unreal Engine 4 and the amazing environmental work that was done on the game. The mountains look foreboding, and unnerving especially when I came across two giant skulls carved into the face of a cliff. Sadly, that’s about all that Kholat really offers in term of a horror experience. Through-out my time spent with the game I really only found myself feeling creeped out by certain parts of the environment. The enemies weren’t exactly terrifying, and were more so frustrating, or downright annoying to deal with. They work pretty similar to how Slenderman works. A slow-moving, possible teleporting (it seems like they can teleport in front of you which is downright annoying) entity that stalks you the entire time while you collect notes. Seem familiar? That’s the core concept of Kholat in a nut-shell. Explore a creepy environment, collect notes, and avoid the entity that is stalking you. Even the entity seems to be confused during the game as well. I often found myself watching the entity stop chasing me and just stand still, or change direction and start walking away from me. Where’s the fear in that? And you’re most likely to be killed by the environment, which offers no sort of warning when you could die. It’s more like a random, gotcha sort of incident which is horrible. Kholat doesn’t exactly bring anything fresh, or new to the table in terms of an experience, which again is a bummer considering how good Kholat could of been.

The game also allows you to fast-travel at campsites that you discover which is a glorious feature that I’m glad was implemented due to how agonizing, and boring it is to traverse the environment after a while. This mainly stems from doing a ton of backtracking, and walking in circles. Then again, this could be intentional due to the disorienting environment and this could possible be what the victims of the real-life incident felt before their untimely demise. Sadly, it doesn’t work and just makes the game boring and again, feel like more of a chore to play. That and the entire movement system in the game is pretty godawful. You can sprint for what is maybe a few seconds before tiring out and moving at an extremely sluggish pace and it takes a fair bit of time to be able to sprint again. It makes the moments where you need to run-away from the entities, and the “orange fog” that tends to chase you to be frustrating. It feels like this was intended to make players feel tense and scared but all I felt was severe annoyance, which isn’t a good thing. You want players to have fun, and feel terrified. Not annoyed, and angry at poorly designed mechanics.

I’ve only put around 3 hours into Kholat and I can tell I’m nearing the end-game area. The story seems to be expanding, but is still extremely convoluted with no real direction. What am I doing in the mountain? Why did I decide to come here? Who the hell are these entities walking around? The game offers really no explanation for anything, and even Sean Bean seems like he didn’t want to be there, and maybe even he too was confused by the entire ordeal.

In the end, would I recommend Kholat? That depends. At $21.99 (currently on sale for $19.79) I wouldn’t. Maybe if the game were to drop to around $10 I’d be happy telling people to pick it up, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending a bare and a non-enjoyable experience like this for that kind of a price-point. Kholat had a solid premise, and some unique concepts but it sort of failed to deliver. It has amazing visuals, and the setting is great but it really just falls flat on delivery.

Pros

  • Awesome setting, and based off of a spooky real-life event with the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
  • Gorgeous visuals, and at times can feel really uneasy while traversing through the snow-ridden, blizzard like environments.
  • Sandbox-ish?

Cons

  • Not much meat to the game. More of a Slender clone by walking around, gathering notes, and avoiding some slow-walking/teleporting entity.
  • Sean Bean’s narration feels a tad phoned in.
  • The story is extremely convoluted, and the game doesn’t really have any sense of direction.
  • The game is more frustrating then it is fun. The deaths you experience are more so random, and put on a more luck-based feel. Maybe you’ll randomly get killed by the environment with no warning.
  • Doesn’t exactly feel like a horror game, and more so feels like an adventure narrative sort of experience in the veins of Dear Esther.

Sadly, Kholat just isn’t all that great of a game and for that price-point I’d recommend you check it out if it gets a price drop. I was really excited for Kholat as I’m super into the Dyatlov Pass Incident, but the game didn’t fully utilize what it could of with these events and sort of just falls flat.

 

 

 

Justin Ross


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