Kholat: Alone in the Mountains

February 1959. A group of students set out on an expedition in the northern Ural Mountains, never to be seen again. Upon a search, strange things were discovered leading to the deaths of students. The bodies were found in their underwear, some were badly beaten, missing parts and their tent showed signs it had been cut from the inside out. This is the true story of what is know as the Dyatlov Pass Incident. The mystery surrounding the deaths of the students has never fully been solved leading to many differing opinions over the years.

Kholat: developed by independent studio IMGN.PRO, sees you thrown into the area that all this happened years after the event with the hope of discovering what was the real cause of this tragedy.

Kholat is a survival horror with a twist. It's base in a real life incident had me hooked from the moment I saw it available. An event that has interested me for many years.

First things first. Kholat is not a walking sim and it will not hold your hand. It is hard, and if you're not prepared, You're not going to enjoy it. Your only tools to help you through the mountains are a compass (a Russian one), a map, a flashlight, your sight and the hope you have a headset or good sound system. The area you have to search is considerably large and the only way to know where you are is with your compass and the terrain around you. The user interface is devoid of any hints or indicators the will help you so looking for the coordinates found on the map can be quite tricky.
I found a strange instinct take over, the need to know what was going on was driving me to the next map point. Strange goings on around me kept me guessing and pushing forward. One of the biggest questions I was asking was who I was, why was I alone, in the mountains, searching out remnants of this failed expedition.

Running on the Unreal 4 engine the environment is beautiful. The changing vistas and draw distance resemble something you would find created by a much bigger team and the atmosphere created by the change in weather is fantastic. I did get a couple of frame rate drops yet they were in places they should not have been and didn't effect the gameplay.

The best part of Kholat is the sound, and it is near on perfect for this style of game. Sean Bean is the narrator and adds a certain style to the story being told. To get full effect of the sound I would say to play with a headset on, if you're a little crazy, try it alone in the dark too. The sound does a great job of setting you up. Music ramps when danger is near, the howling of the wind and snow leaves you disorientated and alone. Wolves in the distance give you that chill and the sense of foreboding that comes through when you hear something following you was enough to spook me on a few occasions.

That's right, you're being hunted. But that is as much as I will give away there.

There was a couple of little hiccups here and there. Mainly that there is no direction given. I spent forever in the first part just wondering around because I didn't know where to go, this is before you find the map so its not like my lack of skill in map reading was the cause. My lack of skill in map reading did come to the fore once the map and compass were picked up. The compass is Russian so I had no idea which way was north and given your position is not shown on the map I was very much lost.  Mainly though was my lack of being. There were no hands or arms, the map and compass just floated in front of you, you had no body or feet but left tracks in the snow. I know it is only a small thing, but I dislike the feeling of floating through the air.

Kholat is a very straight forward game. Those fans of the genre and subject matter should get a kick out of it, the tension in the atmosphere it creates is well worth the look alone. It is a relatively short game, once you get the hang of it, with about 4-6 hours game play.

Coming from a relatively new team it is an impressive entry.
Kholat is available now on PC & PS4

Time to go for a walk!

Pat (Snoogan512)

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