How many games have you enjoyed by developers in Poland? My answer was likely similar to yours until today’s release of Kholat.
Developed by the independent studio nobody has ever heard of, IMGN.PRO, Kholat is an atmospheric game that aims to take advantage of the mystery surrounding a real life event that occurred in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Historically, this event is known as the “Dyatlov Pass incident”. The story is that nine Russian students went on a hiking expedition and none returned. Their camp was found and it was discovered that the tents were torn from the inside out and some of the hikers even left on bare feet in heavy snow in the mountains of Russia. Because there were no signs of struggle on the bodies, and only two victims had fractured skulls and ribs, there was and has been loads of speculation from outside sources regarding the incident. Unfortunately, the lack of survivors leaves the mystery close to unsolvable.
All that sounds like a great place to start a game, or at least the people at IMGN.PRO thought so. Kholat places the player in the area of the incident a number of years later, for them to root around and discover what horrors actually (but not really) befell the nine hikers.
You can watch the trailer below to see that this take on reality is far from realistic.
Very much like Hollywood’s “inspired by true events” works, Kholat uses real events as a foundation and a way to pull the player in and snag their interest, but it quickly goes the route of fantasy to tell its own tale of what could have (but really couldn’t have) happened.
The game is all about atmosphere, as you can no doubt tell from the release trailer. The cold, snow covered mountains of Russia make for a desolate and isolated landscape to place a player alone, and this effect is only emphasized by the backstory this setting has.
Most interesting about this release is its source, a Polish game studio. It’s always exciting to see people from different parts of the world make games for the rest of us to enjoy, especially when it’s somewhere like Poland where we rarely see games originate.