Kholat – Xbox One Review
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I love a good scare as much as the next person so when Kholat dropped into my lap to I was genuinely pleased. The thought of investigating my way through a story based on a real life tragedy really intrigued me. Would it be dealt with sensitively or would the story be as subtle as a brick?
Kholat is a walking simulator style game based on a tragedy that happened in 1959 at Dyatlov Pass. Nine hikers went out exploring the region in Western Russia and never returned. That is a tragedy in itself but the biggest tragedy befell three of the victims who were mauled or beaten to death. Six of the nine men did die of hypothermia but the circumstances of the remaining three deaths were never fully explored or explained but to this day paranormal or supernatural forces have been blamed and this is where our story starts. We’re not interested in a good honest animal attack, oh no we want to delve as deep as we can into the real nitty gritty and see what we can depths we have to go to so we can uncover what evil lurks in Dyatlov Pass.
You play the role of a no named stranger which is weird for a game like this it would have made more sense for him to have been a related to one of the people who defying the tragedy at least. Instead your sent out to find out what the hell went on by a nameless company. You’ll stumble upon campsites and landmarks as you traipse through the snow ravaged and very barren landscape. Along your travels you’ll find notes that have been feet behind by the victims of the hiking expedition but the deeper you explore the freakier the game becomes. Not long into the game you’ll see ghostly apparitions seeming made of red hot embers form right in front of you.
They are definitely not in human form and look like animals but very twisted versions of animals. These apparitions don’t do you any harm but there are others in the game that will kill you instantly and they are a pain in the arse. These apparitions footprints seemingly melt into the snow leaving behind glowing footprints but if the catch you your dead add there is no escaping. These instant kills are beyond annoying because they seem to come from nowhere. And as if make matters worse the loading time to get back to your last checkpoint is abysmal. You’ll have plenty of time to make a cuppa while your waiting and maybe browse through Facebook. When the game eventually loads you’ll find yourself thrown all the way back to your last checkpoint because the game only saves at specific points. So all that hard work you’ve just put in has all been for nothing.
Luckily the game gives you a map so at least you can find your way back to where you’ve just been at least that’s what you would normally do in a game like this. Kholat is a game all about exploring but that part of the game is just broken. Navigating around this map is way harder than it should be. I understand that the game’s makers have decided to make this game as realistic as possible but it’s still suppose to be a game. Your basically stranded with your compass and map and that’s it. When you open the map there is nothing there to indicate where you are. So right from the opening sequence your just walking around blindly.
Every now and again you’ll stumble across a journal or a campsite which mysteriously marks itself on the map and for a while you’ll kind of know where you are but you’ll quickly get lost again which just leads to more walking in circles. There are coordinates etched into cave walls and mountains that you are suppose to follow. They were easy to locate on the map but actually navigation to those coordinates was something else entirely. I basically walked around in circles for hours luckily stumbling upon things and it became very frustrating and that’s without mentioning the spike sits that just happen to be out in the middle of nowhere that you just fall into without warning.
Kholat’s blinding white scenery induced painful headaches after a only a couple of hours. Your stumbling around looking at rocks, ice and blizzards so if that’s what your into your well catered for here. When the apparitions appear they look good but nothing special and to make matters worse their not even scary. Running around the map highlights framerate drops and noticeable tearing whenever you shift the camera’s perspective. At least the sound deserves some praise. The voice acting by none other than Sean Bean is excellent. The soundtrack is also superb and sets a seriously spooky tone. But for me that’s as good as Kholat got.
I’ve played many walking simulators over the years some good and some dreadful and unfortunately for me Kholat is on the dreadful side of things. The real life story is a good premise but the game tries to hard to inject supernatural elements into it for no reason. Getting from point A to wherever point B is should be a challenge but here it’s just a chore, that’s if you even find it. The frustrating compass and map system just don’t work as seamlessly as they should do and you’ll just end up walking around with zero idea of where your going until you stumble into something by chance. I had high hopes for Kholat but I felt defeated at every turn a shoddy navigation mechanic.
Kholat is available now for £15.99
Review code supplied by XCN.