In 1959, nine hikers died in the northern Ural Mountains with no explanation. The events that transpired that day are now known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Their bodies were eventually found with different injuries to each person. No one knows what happened up on the mountain, but people have provided different theories such as an avalanche, a supernatural force, or perhaps even a military cover-up. The Dyatlov Pass Incident and the mystery surrounding it would make for excellent storytelling and conjecture; however Kholat takes whatever it could have been and throws it away.
Kholat at its heart is a first-person, atmospheric adventure based on a true life event, but in all the worse ways, it's just a walking simulator. There is no combat. There are no puzzles. There is, to an extent, no reason to think about anything you’re doing. There are collectibles scattered about, but that’s the bare minimum. Kholat starts out dumping you into an area with no explanation as to where you are or what direction to move in. I simply had to use trial and error until I found a path that turned out to be correct. It was frustrating and took me completely out of the intended experience.
Controls for Kholat are completely basic - the left stick controls movement, the right stick controls the camera and there's a button to bring up your compass, map and flashlight. In a game where horror and suspense are supposed to be the highlights, Kholat goes the lackadaisical route and falls back on jump scares. Visually the game isn’t on the level of quality that I would expect from a downloadable title in 2016. However, the one saving grace for Kholat is its voice acting; the narrator seems to drone on laboriously about vague supernatural events, but while the monologue is boring, the overall voice acting is top notch.
Kholat had the opportunity to spin a tale of its own design around a story that no one knew the truth too. It could have been a fascinating tale of supernatural events and mythical elements, but it drops the ball. The supernatural theme is prevalent in Kholat, but it isn’t enough to drive the narrative, unfortunately. 2 TOV Stars out of 5.