Kholat Review: Dead in the Snow

June 8th, 2017 -

It takes a special game to teach the player valuable life skills. I actually had to Google how to use a compass to play this game, not because I really wanted to know or anything, but because Kholat literally gives the player no direction whatsoever. You begin your journey exploring the Kholat mountain region of Russia, searching for answers to what happened to a group of students that went missing in 1959. Based on true events, the students were found with strange injuries and to this day, the causes of death are a mystery. Creepy, eh?

Kholat_Screenshot_1

Unfortunately, the game is nowhere near as interesting as the premise makes it seem, there really isn’t much to be seen here. You’re given a map, a compass, and a flashlight, and are then set loose to explore a largely vacant wilderness area that the incident occurred in. You will find bodies with strange notes, which occasionally will result in a scripted event. These events are too far apart and while animated well, do not add to the story. One of these events early in the game actually killed me without warning or reasoning being provided. Some rocks floated once I picked up the note, then boom, I am dead and given a low res loading screen.

The only additional gameplay element is a creature that appears to be made of fire and stalks the landscape, similar to the Alien from Alien Isolation, who will ignore you unless you walk right up to him. Please note, I do mean right up to him; at one point I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do, so I did a happy dance around him. Doing so resulted in yet another cheap death. This wouldn’t be a huge issue, since the loading times are fairly quick; however, you will be placed at your most recent checkpoint. The checkpoints are only triggered when you pick up a note, which are few and far between.

Kholat_Screenshot_12

You’ll also experience a yellow-ish orange cloud of what I can only assume is an airborne version of AIDs that will occasionally appear and encourage you to run faster, or you guessed it, experience a cheap death. While the thought of an airborne AIDs virus may sound terrifying, the scares stop there. I experienced more dread every time I inched towards a ledge, praying I wouldn’t get stuck in midair or for the love that is all holy, die again.

Throughout the 5 hours I spent in Kholat, I was impressed with the snow effects, which increase and decrease as snow naturally would. Aside from Mr. Burning Face whom I mentioned earlier, the graphics are immersive and do give you a true feeling of being lost in the woods. This sounds about as much fun in the game as it would in real life. The map does very little to give insight as to where you currently are. Unless I was reading the compass wrong, I often found myself going in the complete opposite direction than what I was intending. I only found that I was going in the wrong direction when I stumbled upon one of the aforementioned notes, which updates the map with a small symbol where you found it.

Kholat_Screenshot_13

The game is narrated by Sean Bean, which I assume means that the player dies at the end based off of his track record. Unfortunately, I was frustrated beyond belief before I could finish said game. Mr. Bean’s voice acting is top notch as you’d expect from him. While most of your journey will be silent aside from your own footsteps and the wind whistling past you, the music featured here and there was more relaxing than you’d expect from a horror game. While not bad, it didn’t really fit the overall theme here.

While featuring some good visuals and an interesting premise, the execution is lacking. Unless you would like to experience walking around the Russian wilderness aimlessly for hours, I would recommend staying away from Kholat and getting your horror fix from one of the many other options currently available.

 

Acquire

Pros

  • Creepy Backstory
  • Sean Bean’s Voice Acting
  • Weather Effects and Visuals

Cons

  • Lack of Scares and Content
  • Lack of Direction
  • Cheap Deaths
  • Lack of Proper Checkpoints

Kholat was developed and published by IMGN.PRO. It launched on June 9, 2015 for Steam and PS4, and June 9, 2017 for the X1. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of Kholat, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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