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Don't Knock Twice Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Switch owners may get a kick out of having a scary game just in time for Halloween, but Don't Knock Twice is a mess. The premise is sound, but the gameplay is boring, the puzzles take no thought and the whole thing is brought down by some atrocious frame-rate issues. There are a few genuine scares to be found in Don't Knock Twice, but they don't make up for a complete lack of polish. Rating: 40%
Don't Knock Twice
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  • Review Score:

  • C-
There are a lot of people may think that a Nintendo console is the last place you would go to find a scary game, but the truth is that I've played many of my favorite horror-themed titles on the old school NES, Super Nintendo and GameCube. From Castlevania to Resident Evil to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, those virtual ghouls and ghosts have always been good about haunting every system Nintendo puts out. Perhaps that's why I wasn't all that surprised to see Wales Interactive port their brand new horror game, Don't Knock Twice, to the Switch. The result should delight gamers desperate for a few genuine frights, but the only thing I found scary was the crummy performance and poorly executed puzzles.

Loosely based on the 2016 movie of the same name, Don't Knock Twice tells the story of a guilt-ridden mother who is doing everything in her power to reconnect with her estranged daughter and make everything right again. Unfortunately, what happened to this family is the kind of broken you can't repair, and we see it all play out in what amounts to a first-person roller coaster ride through a haunted house.


Don't Knock Twice is the kind of game where you spend most of the time simply wandering around the mansion looking for news clippings to read and items to interact with. This is one of those bite-sized horror games that is more about the story and atmospheric tone than fast-paced gameplay and puzzle solving. In fact, the few puzzles we stumble into can usually be solved by looking around the room or using a hatchet to open doors.

Once we get beyond the spooky sounds and ominous knocking, the game ends up becoming a fairly straight-forward scavenger hunt. There are five items that need to be combined in order to solve the mystery and bring this family together. Of course, that means you'll need to visit every inch of the mansion, usually with little more than a candle in hand.

What I like about Don't Knock Twice is that it's set in present day. That may not sound like a big thing, but so many of these horror games are set in the past and never involve modern technology. That's not the case here, as we're constantly getting text messages from the freaked out daughter and most of the rooms have either a laptop or television. The truth is, I wish they would have done more with this aspect of the game. Too often the text messages are used to guide the player, when they probably could have been used to generate real terror and anxiety.

This feeling that they could have done more with the material isn't just isolated to the modern day setting, but pretty much sums up the entire game. I've already complained that the puzzles are only half-baked, but it bears repeating. At its most complicated, the game will want you to turn on the hot water in order to figure out a password. There's a way the developers could have turned this into a fun brain-teaser, but instead they toss a picture next to the sink that spells out exactly what you need to do. And again, that's one of the more involved puzzles. Usually there's just a lever you have to pull.

Don't Knock Twice (Switch)Click For the Full Picture Archive

When it comes right down to it, I can live with a few poorly constructed puzzles and scares that don't always land. What I can't live with is the awful frame rate found in this Switch port. From the moment the game starts until the very end, it always felt like half the frames of animation were missing. This will not only give you a pounding headache, but it also makes simple things like picking up items and opening doors a lot harder than they should be. And it's not just the frame-rate, but also parts of the background that will sputter in and out of existence. There's a general lack of polish to the Switch version of Don't Knock Twice.

For what it's worth, the game's performance improves dramatically when you undock the system and play it in handheld mode. Don't Knock Twice looks great and the animation is smooth when playing on the small screen, which gives me hope that Wales Interactive will be able to fix the game I played on the TV. I'm not sure how the other versions perform, but I can't imagine they are as framey as what I played.

Switch owners may get a kick out of having a scary game just in time for Halloween, but Don't Knock Twice is a mess. The premise is sound, but the gameplay is boring, the puzzles take no thought and the whole thing is brought down by some atrocious frame-rate issues. There are a few genuine scares to be found in Don't Knock Twice, but they don't make up for a complete lack of polish.
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