Kholat – What We Think:
Set in the eerily beautiful landscape of the Ural Mountains, Kholat manifests a deadly combination of both survival skills and a horrifying dark secret. This thrilling first-person indie hit, developed by Polish company IMGN.PRO, will leave you lost and confused, and ultimately drive you to insanity. Even the haunting narration of British actor Sean Bean won’t be enough to deliver you from evil.
Meandering through the Darkness
The story starts in a snowy Russian village just off the slopes of Kholat Syakhl, or “dead mountain.” After thoroughly exploring the abandoned village and navigating down a winding road, you eventually find yourself lost in a blizzard with absolutely nowhere to run. Pure terror begins to overwhelm your mind and body as you slowly start to lose your grip on reality.
The controls are very similar to any other first person game: arrow keys or WASD for movement and mouse for camera rotation. Once you find your map and compass, there is a section called “Survival Skills” that explains extra key functions, such as F for flashlight, M for map, and C for compass.
If you ever need to run away from danger, the shift key is your best friend. Only run in short bursts, though, because if you deplete your energy, you’ll stumble and your screen will blur for a brief moment. Once you discover more than one camp, you’ll be able to fast-travel between them.
The overall object of the game is to unearth the mystery of a missing expedition and to stay alive while doing so. This is much easier said than done, since you’re merely a mortal wandering through foreign mountains with a supernatural evil lurking around every boulder.
Found notes will help you unravel the story. Once you reach your first one, it is placed conveniently on your map. These notes can be used as reminders or locators for where you currently are. I found this to be slightly flawed, because as you discover more and more notes, the map gets cluttered and even more confusing. Thankfully, there’s a midpoint – where you start from – that you can always reach by fast-travel as a reset.
Demons? Experiments? Demon Experiments?
Up until the very end, this game will have you questioning absolutely everything that happens. There’s a mysterious orange fog that continues to appear as you progress and even a dark figure (or figures) that will kill you if you get too close.
Thankfully, your flashlight will flicker if the shadow of death is near; you can never be too sure whether it’s alien or something supernatural, but you know it’s dangerous and that it’s the cause for the missing explorers.
(Beyond that, I won’t spoil anything.)
The Sound of Silence
Sometimes you don’t need an 82-piece orchestra to incite terror. Oftentimes, all you need is a spooky piano and the proper brain behind it. Examples of this can be seen in famous horror themes from the likes of Friday the 13th and Halloween.
This experience, however, delivers something much more sinister. While the sound effects are perfectly placed, the score is sporadic and is really only heard when you discover a new section of the story or if you’re being chased. In this game of survival, silence is your friend.
Madness Will Consume You
It’s no secret that some of the best horror games are the ones that deliver their scares in creative, unexpected ways. Kholat is no exception. Instead of one straight path or one town packed with stereotypical jump scares, Kholat brings perpetual fear to the player. In a beautiful marriage of horror and survival, this thrilling first-person indie will have you questioning your sanity as you dive deeper and deeper into the abyss. Where nothing is certain and nowhere is safe, turn off your lights and plug in your headphones for the ultimate game of Russian roulette.
Kholat is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Kholat below: