There has been numerous games released under the indie survival horror game genre these last couple of years, most of these has created a mediocre to low critical praise while others such as Outlast, Slender and Amnesia: The Dark Descent has managed to create a rather positive buzz, so when I discovered Kholat I knew I had to read up on the Dyatlo Pass incident in which this game is based upon and I was pleasantly surprised the further I dug into both the game and the story. This is a game you really should pay attention to. This is our review of the Playstation 4 version of Kholat
For those unfamiliar with “The Dyatlo Pass” incident allow me (and wikipedia) to enlighten you: “The Dyatlov Pass incident was an event that took the lives of nine hikers in mysterious circumstances on the night of February 2, 1959 in the northern Ural Mountains. The name Dyatlov Pass refers to the name of the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov. The Dyatlov Pass incident was an event that took the lives of nine hikers in mysterious circumstances on the night of February 2, 1959 in the northern Ural Mountains. The name Dyatlov Pass refers to the name of the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov.”
Kholat is a indie survival horror game which is based upon the Dyatlo Pass incident. You, the protagonist, are set to retrace the steps of the group that went missing in the incident and try to discover what really happened to these nine Russian students. “Холатчахль ("Kholat Syakhl") is a transliteration in Russian of Holatchahl, meaning "Dead Mountain" in Mansi.”
The story of these students in itself is pretty scary, as nothing concrete has really yet come out of this. Sure there are multiple theories and documentaries you can dive into trying to piece together the story and how it all went down, for yourself, but Kholat puts you in the driving seat, ties your foot to the gas-pedal and just let you loose right from the start. With no real direction or instructions you are free to tackle this game however you like, with multiple choices which can quickly have your fate end up the same way the students fate did.
Yes, you can easily die in Kholat, and you probably will. So this is mainly a trial by error kind of experience. You encounter spirits along the way and the atmosphere can quickly go from calm and peaceful to terrifying and scary. The snowy mountains is no friend of yours and without your trust flash light and map you are as good as dead. Along the way you encounter places and spots that might clue you in to where you are supposed to go next but if you overlook some of these you might get lucky and just stumble upon the right path anyway. But this is purely a trial and error kind of game.
Kholat is one of those games that are best experienced without any previous knowledge to any of the gameplay elements before you start. Discovering the game as you progress is in my mind the only way to play and get the experience I got from this game. Therefore I will not share too much of what happens or what you encounter as I feel that would take away a lot of the suspense of the game. But if you enjoy previous indie survival horror games then Kholat is one that you might enjoy checking out.