Available On: Windows, Xbox One, PS4
Played On: Windows
Genre: Survival Horror
Official Site: http://kholat.com/en/index.php
Release Date: September 6th, 2015
Where to Buy it: Steam, PSN, Xbox Store
Kholat is a first-person survival horror from 1MGN Pro that’s based on the Dyatlov Pass incident of 1959. In that incident, nine Russian college students disappeared while on a hiking trip at Kholat Syakhl. It’s a very intriguing mystery and one that remains unsolved to this day. In Kholat, you set out as an unknown explorer trying to discover what happened to these missing hikers. While the incident itself may be unexplained, Kholat the game has its own version of the story. It’s a title that does a number of things very well but still stumbles in other areas.
One of the best things about Kholat is the lack of the tutorial. Your character appears near a snow-covered town and it’s up to you to find out what to do. No waypoints, no directions…nothing. It would seem that your goal is to find out what happened to the missing hikers but it’s up to you to find your way. Sean Bean provides the opening narration to clue the player in on the Dyatlov Incident but after that, it’s all you. All you have on your person is a flash, compass and map. It’s similar to that of Outlast. Through the course of your travels, you will uncover various coordinates which will allow you to find your location on the map.
The process of finding your way around Kholat is something I’d like to see integrated more into games. Using coordinates and terrain to find your location and plot your next move. Too often it’s an easy process in games. Take Call of Duty: WWII for example. In the opening mission, which you find yourself storming the beaches of Normandy, your goal locations are conveniently showed on screen. You essentially know exactly where to go. When the soldiers landed on the beach it was chaos. They had to use their maps and scan the terrain to be sure of the right direction to head. If COD: WWII would have adopted this feature from Kholat, it would have the gameplay much more compelling.
Kholat utilizes the unreal engine and the world looks fantastic. You certainly experience your fair share of snow but the landscape is a pleasure to look at. The flip side of the coin here is the inability to jump. There’s this great mountain terrain to admire but you’re stuck with following pre-laid paths. While it would make sense to not have the ability to scale large rock formations, even small lips are impossible to get over. I certainly found it frustrating on occasion.
In Kholat, you’ll face several dangers. Falls from ledges, hidden traps and a mysterious entity. With no weapons, you have to run or hide from this mysterious enemy but…your sprint is very limited. It didn’t bother me right off the bat but when you die and have to continue through already explored areas…it can irk you. In the event you do die, you’ll be forced to return to your last visited campsite. This is something to keep in mind when out exploring. On one occasion I found myself exploring a good chunk of a number of areas only to die and have to go through it all again. It’s this sort of repetition that could turn some people off.
Despite the negatives, Kholat does have some nerve-racking gameplay and interesting areas to explore. A particular favorite of mine was having to navigate a cave without being killed by the lurking shadow. While playing, my son actually tapped me for some juice and I was so into the moment I jumped a good bit. Kholat has the ability to really immerse you in the moment. While the game is listed as a survival horror, there are little survival elements to worry about. You won’t find yourself having to worry about food, weather health. The worst thing you can seemingly do is exhaust your sprint and have to wait for it to replenish.
The story will take you about five hours to get through and then that’s it. The replay value here is not very high one you finish the game. If you’re a completionist and need all those achievements, you may get a little more out of it and there’s also a “true ending” that you’ll get to see. Have you played Kholat? If so, what did you think? Also, be sure to check out our latest review of The Walking Dead.
Verdict: Kholat has some intense and scary gameplay, but may only have limited appeal to those outside the horror genre. The game does a number of things very well but stumbles in other areas. If horror is your thing, Kholat might be worth your time. If not, it may be best to just leave it out it the snow.
- Lack of tutorial
- Can't climb
- Limited replay value
- Frustrating save points