GAME NAME: Kholat
GENRE(S): Survival Horror
RELEASE DATE(S): June 9, 2015
Kholat, created by the independent Polish studio IMGN.PRO, is an interesting horror game inspired by the real event known as the “Dyatlov Pass Incident”. The students ventured into the northern Ural Mountains, and were found dead in rather unique ways that are not naturally occurring nor caused by an animal. Your character is thrown into the story as a type of investigator, who is trying to figure out what happened to a group of Russian students years after their deaths. How did they die? Who did it? Will you be next?
You begin the game in a snow covered town that is seemingly empty (if there were any living people there, I didn’t find them). The game has an open world map so it is up to you to find the next leg of your journey. Luckily, this part of the game is rather clear as to where to go. I had multiple people play the beginning of the game, and all of them found the entrance to the next part of the game within ten minutes. While there is the potential to wander around, there isn’t anything to do, so it funnels you into the main area of the game.
The plot of the game is completely open to your discovery. You are led various directions by glowing footprints which gives you some idea as to where to go, however, you can’t catch up to them. Once you have picked a general direction you meander along the paths until you come across random pages that give you clues as to what happened on that fateful snowy night. It your task to piece everything together via the information on the pages… While running for your life from the big bad guy occasionally.
What I loved about the game was the music and graphics. The haunting melody in the beginning really puts you in the mood to play a tragic horror game. The slow melodic piano and the haunting voice of the singer really established the mood. Throughout the game the music changes depending on the area and what is going on around you. Graphics wise, also absolutely beautiful. The developers really put work into the details of the trees, the snow, and the rocks. The graphics and soundtrack set the mood for the game as if to say, “You’re going to have nightmares and question every slow piano piece/haunting violin melody you hear throughout the rest of your life.”
As for the gameplay, I was completely lost and rather disappointed. I found myself wandering through the snow for quite some time without any direction, and then would randomly get stomped out by the big baddie. The page flapping that you hear when you are around clues was a godsend, however, I would find a page and then still not know what was going on due to collecting clues in a random order. I had only collected a small amount of pages by the time I came across a scenery change, and was still lost as to what the beginning of the story is.
Unless you enjoy wandering a snowy mountain for quite some time with no direction looking for things, this game isn’t for you. This game would have been fabulous if it had a bit stronger sense of direction. The developers set up a great atmosphere in the beginning, and then that starting hype faded away after wandering around for so long. If you have the patience to wander around and look for all of the pages to get the full story, then enjoy!