DarKnot Early Access Impressions – Dark… Not

Gare – Thursday, November 3, 2022 8:50 PM
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Okay, I’ll skip the lengthy intro and cut right to the chase: I’m not entirely sure what DarKnot is trying to be – it appears to be a game that’s hoping to do a lot of things at the same time, but it just never coalesces into a coherent whole. When I first booted up the game, things were initially off to a good start. Genuinely. The opening scene thrusts you into a wonderfully detailed – and sufficiently moody – apartment, and it’s all explored from a first-person perspective. There are bookshelves to inspect, notes to read, and an unsettling ritual to complete; there’s even a rotting monster in your bathtub and a creepy little possessed kid shambling about in the dark. It was disturbing, and dare I say, actually scary. Whether or not it was a bug or an intentional part of the experience when the child jumped out the window after I threw some books at him… is another matter, but let’s not dwell on it too much.

So, what I’m trying to say is that DarKnot could’ve been interesting. But then you complete that first segment in the creepy room with the creepy kid, and you wake up in a pitch-black park in third-person mode. Suddenly, we’re a third-person game and we’re beating up strange zombie-ghost things. Then you get shot and die, and mysteriously wake up in a puzzle room, once again in first-person mode. DarKnot kept pulling the rug out from under me, but not in a good way; the third-person segments came as a sharp contrast to the somewhat atmospheric first-person exploration bits – you’re suddenly a semi-naked guy in his underwear, wandering around in a weird, insane asylum-esque place with strange green ghosts trying to beat you up and insects that insta-kill you in three seconds because trying to hit them with the game’s awful combat mechanics is an exercise in exasperating futility. Quite the 180 from that promising start.

The game also makes a big deal out of letting you equip different things in your left and right hand, but in practice, this ends up feeling clunky and, to be honest, quite unnecessary. As implied above, combat is a similarly messy affair, consisting of mindlessly flailing about and hoping you hit whatever it is you’re trying to hit before you run out of stamina, all the while trying to navigate your character with the game’s awkwardly sluggish controls. At this point, whatever atmosphere the game had also evaporated, leaving me more confused and frustrated than actually scared. Also, did I mention the fact that entering the Options menu (you know, to adjust graphical settings and the like) does not pause the game? Yeah, I’m not sure if that’s a bug or an intentional feature, but good luck trying to mess around with your settings without getting killed. Spoilers: you will get killed.

So, to sum things up, my experience with DarKnot has been utterly dreadful, mostly because the game does everything in its power to be as anti-fun as possible. It feels like the video game equivalent of a whole bunch of ingredients being thrown into a cooking pot with a complete disregard for whether or not the outcome will be appetizing at all. I will give credit where credit is due: if the entire game had been like the opening segment in the apartment, I could’ve at least said it was a derivative but ultimately decent effort – however, the fact that it seems to double down on being a third-person “horror” game with laughably clunky combat, uninteresting mechanics and zero atmosphere makes it very difficult to recommend at the moment.

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