Kholat Review (PS4)

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Kholat is a new exploration/survival game based on a real event. On the night of February 2nd, 1959, nine Russian hikers died from an ‘unknown compelling force’ in the Ural mountains. A search party then found the hikers but they were all dead and all of them by mysterious circumstances. Some had their Tongues cut out while others had internal injuries but no external injuries. In Kholat you are tasked with trying to figure out what happened.
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I mentioned that this is a  exploration game so the only items you’ll have available to you are a compass, a map, and a flashlight. As you explore the mountains the game marks key locations on your map. You’ll want to keep an eye our for notes scattered about and log books from the hikers as they will give you a checkpoint should you run into trouble which you will.

That’s right you can and will most likely die in Kholat. A mysterious anomaly is out here in the wilderness trying to hunt you down and boy is it scary. One of my favorite parts about the game is the dread you experience trying to avoid these creatures.  They aren’t always predictable either as they don’t always appear in the same place. I played with headphones on and the game really freaked me out.

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There are a lot of people that don’t like these “walking simulators” as some call them but Kholat is one of the best I’ve played due solely to just how great the atmosphere in the game is. However, other parts of the game aren’t as strong. Due to the way the game works you can easily get lost and not know where to go for long periods of time. You have nothing to point you in the right direction. Some people may think that this makes more sense for the game but I found it to be frustrating. The map is pretty big so I felt like the game really needed something there to help guide the player.

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There is an orange anomaly that when you enter the right area acts as a marker of sorts. Clues can be found in the areas that it leads you but other times it leads you to dangerous places where the only thing you find is jump scares and instant death. Instant death because when you run into these enemies you the player can do nothing to defend yourself against them. There are no stealth mechanics so the best chance you have is to run but the game doesn’t really let you do that for very long. There are also environmental hazards too such as pits you can fall into that instant kill you. What makes this all even more frustrating is the extremely long load times on the PS4 version. Each time you die you can expect to wait around 30-40 seconds if not more for the game to respawn you at the most recent checkpoint you hit.

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The game does have voice acting and the main narration is done by actor Sean Bean. He does a decent enough job with it but it didn’t seem like his voice really fit the game well. The thing I did like is that his identity in the game is mysterious and helps add to that overall creepy atmosphere that the game does so well. Other voices you hear come from the logbook passages you find that were left by the hikers. These as well as the ones by the investigation team are voiced great and are interesting to listen to. It would have been nice to be able to close the book and listen to them as you explored though like a lot of other games let you do nowadays.

The game took me only a few hours to finish but you can stretch it out to maybe 6-8 hours if you want to collect all the logbook scraps and see everything. I highly recommend trying to find everything that you can and as I said I did above be sure to wear headphones as it makes Kholat that much more scary and memorable.
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Kholat has plenty of issues but there is no denying that it also one of the most atmospheric games I’ve played recently and is really creepy. The game makes great use of the Unreal Engine 4 as well to deliver some great visuals. I also like that it is based on a real world event as it adds more to the game. If you’re into these kind of experiences I highly recommend it but do expect some frustration to come with it.

Verdict:

+ Great visuals and awesome sound design
+ Awesome atmosphere and tension

– Long load times
– Way too easy to get lost
– Average voice acting

Final Score: 7/10

*Photos were taken in game using the Share Button on the Dualshock 4.*

Justin Oneil
One of Head Writers and PR here on ThisGenGaming.com. I've been playing games for over 20 years now and play everything from AAA blockbusters to Indie games. You can find me on all the current consoles and on my twitter account.
About the author

Justin Oneil

One of Head Writers and PR here on ThisGenGaming.com. I've been playing games for over 20 years now and play everything from AAA blockbusters to Indie games. You can find me on all the current consoles and on my twitter account.
  • spideynut71

    I played this on PC last year…got it for less than $10 on Steam, which about what it’s worth.

    • Psn Merc

      Yeah I felt it was a little overpriced as well. $20 is a lot for this game. What would you have scored it?

      • spideynut71

        5/10, at best ; there’s just not enough going on to call it a “game”….more like an interactive tech demo. The game is gorgeous, is you have the rig to run it on max.