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The Unusual Origin of Knock Knock on PS4

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The Unusual Origin of Knock Knock on PS4

Hi! We’re called Ice-Pick Lodge, and we’re happy to announce that September 10th will mark the PS4 launch of Knock Knock — a creepy horror game with a rather unusual backstory.

What do you, a small-to-mid-sized indie studio, do when an e-mail pops up full of mysterious scribbles, notes, and audio files — coupled with a vague description of a possible game? In all honesty, more often than not you probably try to conjure up a polite and friendly response; perhaps discuss the sender’s ideas with them. But that’s not what happened at Ice-Pick Lodge studios in November 2011.

Knock Knock

Instead of doing the sensible thing, we set to create a horror game that would incorporate the disturbing nature and the subtly sinister undertones of the .zip archive we were sent while also avoiding the genre cliches like gore, asylums, or jump scares.

It feels nice to give yourselves quests. Many innovative and charming games begin with an idea longing to be implemented, with a desire to try out a new mechanic or, say, combine certain traditions.

Knock Knock is not so different in this regard — it’s just that our quest was to recreate a place, a feeling, and an idea first captured in a set of disjointed snippets, bits, and pieces that we extracted from the archive. There were audio files that ended up becoming “Lodger speak” — the incomprehensible speech of the game’s main character, the Lodger. There were images and text files that made us realize that the game is set in a cabin lost in the woods. Finally, the very fact of making a game based on an archive from an anonymous source provided Knock Knock with its central motif: the fear of the unknown.

Knock KnockKnock Knock

We were — and still are — a bit afraid of what we’ve done, you see. Even those of us who were positive it was nothing more than a prank. Why does it matter, anyway? Whether the cabin was located in some real woods or in the mindscape of a very peculiar person, it’s still real in the world of ideas. And the world of ideas was real enough for us to find a note saying “You’ve forgotten someone” when we later went to a forest to fulfill some of the Kickstarter backer rewards (Knock Knock has indeed been successfully kickstarted, and one of the tiers promised that we would plant a tree for the backer).

The Lodger’s fears spawn from his own close-mindedness, taking the shape of so-called Guests that visit his cabin and engage in a game of creepy hide-and-seek (Hide-and-sick?) with him. The only thing the Lodger needs to do to win is to survive until dawn. Is it true? Or is he supposed to break the rules created with his own fearful mind? What if it’s all merely a nightmarish prank? Whatever the correct answer is, we did our best to deliver it subtly. The cabin itself is cozy, and the woods you set to explore from time to time are picturesque.

So what is wrong with this place?

Most human fears boil down to the fact that we reject the alien and the unknown. We fear the dark because something may be there; we indulge in various types of xenophobia because there are a lot of things in this world that simply do not make sense to us. A cleaver-wielding zombie may be frightening as hell, especially if you’re fragile and lack the means to defend yourself, but we honestly believe that an inexplicable creature set about its own business is even more so. It may not even necessarily present a threat, but by god how does its shape even hold together?! That is not how bodies work at all!

Knock Knock

Coupled with the fact that there may or may not be some twisted game going on with the protagonist being the main player, it works to recreate the disconnected mood of the archive rather well. And it’s not us patting ourselves on the back; after the game was first released, the spooky sender has contacted us once again, claiming we’ve made several mistakes, but got the general gist just right. Knock Knock is a pocket of chaos that serves as a direct contradiction to the belief that the world can be made sense of at all; multiple in-game systems (some of them suggested by our dubious benefactor — seemingly for no reason at all) overlap, creating an ever-evolving situation that keeps the player on their toes.

But chaos is unavoidably broken into patterns. That’s just how human mind works — including the mind of our poor protagonist. Perhaps this is what it’s all about.

And, well, that’s better than nothing. When you stare into the darkness, anything is better than nothing — even a doppelganger of yours staring back at you blindly. (That is, of course, not a random metaphor, but something that can be encountered in Knock Knock.)

The horror genre is extremely robust these days — and whatever the origins of the e-mail were, we’re more than happy that someone or something has given us a nudge to add to it while scaring ourselves witless in the process. Now we hope that the black box that is Knock Knock will continue to serve its purpose.

Whatever it is.

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15 Comments

  • This has to be the most bizarre origin story for a game I’ve ever heard. It’s perhaps the game equivalent of a “found footage” movie :-)

    • PanTheMan16

      Yeah, refresh the blog all day, then write the shortest comment you can think of that sounds “meaningful” so you can be “first”. Give it a rest, dude. I’m missing the “disgaea 2 sale” guy, now.

  • markedman54

    This looks very interesting. I hope we’re not all going to be haunted by this game with the strange, unknown origins. ala The Ring.
    Loving this horror revival of late.

  • SimoonEyezz

    It would have been nice to see exemples of what they actually received and how it translated into the actual game but very interesting nonetheless! Awesome story!

  • Devilking-Nikkai

    Off topic, but please hear me out!
    I love PlayStation 1st party games such like inFAMOUS, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, Uncharted, God of War, etc and etc.
    However tho, some of those games don’t have online mode at all like inFAMOUS, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper for example, i do believe if you add the online mode in it, the replay quality will be sky rocket! It will also help to boost the sales and the fanbase since Online gaming is where people bond together with other gamers and the GAMES they played as well. This is why such “casual” game like League of Legend, Dota, Smite, Call of Duty, Smash Bros, Mario Kart can be so addictive and have so many fans!
    Sony, if you want to get a much larger fanbase, you need to focusing on the online gaming!
    Oh and one more thing, please produce more animated games like Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper (and make it onlinely). Becuz you’re very lacking in this department right now…. And we all missed these much beloved franchise T_T
    Best wishes and longlive PlayStation!

    • whereymyconary

      To the person above. This is not the time or place for your comment mostly cause it will go completely unread by anyone that you want to read it. So be responsible and comment correctly

      That said game looks neat. Love the visuals.

    • MP whor*s are a real plague.And they’re infesting the Blog already.

    • MakaiOokami

      Sony has the biggest gaming fanbase in all of home console’dom

      They sold 170 million PS2s, 80ish million PS3s, 25 million PS4s.

      The Gamecube sold 22 mil, Wii sold 110-120 mil, Wii U is selling around 10-15 mil.

      Xbox sold 22 mil or so, Xbox 360 sold 80 millish, Xbox One is about 10-15 mil.

      While I love Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank (couple of platinums even from the series) those games don’t seem to have even broken the 1 million mark on physical sales.

      Almost everything you said is just not true or at least evident by numbers.

      Those games basically all have Nostalgia factors.

      Greek mythology for Smite, DOTA ad League of Legends are based off of a Warcraft 3 mod, everything else has something like 20 years of Nostalgia to feed off of.

      Where as LBP Karting, Playstation Battle All Stars Royale, etc, just don’t prove you have a point that they should invest millions of dollars to make MORE online gaming, when Activision just puts a straw in everyone’s wallets and sucks out over half a billion in revenue.

      Also online didn’t help Skylanders become the multi billion dollar giant it is. Even though it’s NOW about to have online on the new version.

  • Off the topic.i just bought helldivers in physical copy.it has a promotional code which doesnt work.it says its not valid entry or it is wrong.can anyone please help me.i tried to redeem it in my ps4 nd ps vita still it wont work.

  • @DevilKing-Nikkai Sony is not lacking in online games & there a few online games with Ratchet & Clank. Everything else you have talked about is up to the developers. Remember this every game doesn’t need online to be excellent. On another note this concept for this is intriguing.

  • Cool, I hope it does well enough to warrant a port of the kickstarted Pathologic remake!

  • What’s the price?

  • Love the art style and the story of just how crazy it all is. Very intrigued by this.

  • Clark_kent01

    Well well well just by telling the art style its more likely have a grim story, dark but vivid, probably will get it once out

  • punkmusic2009

    3 mouth later and turameter is still on preorder and know whats funny I paid 29.99+tax to get the movie and bounse theme and right now its avblbae on dvd and blue ray at feature shop witch is now best buy see what happens when I preorder from sony they take my money and don’t refund it and don’t give me what I paid for just like all the bundals ive bought on ps home and got nothing in return but ps home closed and sony promsieing if I stayed to the end on that night we all get a free game but ive stayed to the end and got nothing

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