Skull Landscape


Lately, I’ve had the chance to play a video-game of the horror genre called Kholat (or death).

As you already know, the genre is rather disgusting to me (remember my discussions with my friend Hugo?), but this time I won my reluctance for a specific reason.

This videogame is based on a tragic event that actually happened in 1959 in Russia.

In a mountain pass on the Urals as many as 9 people lost their lives for reasons not yet ascertained.

Soviet investigators said that death was caused “by a force of nature“. the area was forbidden to anyone for three years and the lack of both survivors and witnesses gave rise to the worst fantasies.

After a trip of a few days on cross-country skis the boys, all very young, camped for the night near a pass on a mountain that in local language means “mountain of the dead”. What happened that night we do not know for sure, but Soviet investigators established that in the middle of the night the boys tore their tent from the inside and escaped, only with the underwear on and barefoot, in different directions. With a temperature of minus 30 degrees, a stormy wind and without the slightest chance of seeing anything at night they certainly had no chance of surviving.

Below are the facts established by the investigation:

  1. six members of the group had died of hypothermia, while the other three due to a combination of hypothermia and fatal trauma;
  2. there were no traces of the presence of other people in the area or in the surrounding areas;
  3. the tent had been torn from the inside;
  4. the victims had died between six and eight hours after eating the last meal;
  5. the fatal traumas of the three bodies could not have been caused by another human being “because the power of the blows had been too strong and at the same time had not damaged any soft tissue”;
  6. forensic analysis had shown that the clothes of some of the victims had high levels of radioactive contamination.

The investigation was closed due to the total “absence of offenders“, but the aftermath and controversy that followed went on for years.
In fact, there are those who claim that the metal findings in the vicinity, the fact that there were experiments with the new R-7 war missiles, radioactivity (caused by a source never found) legitimately made us think that the army had a concrete interested in covering everything.

The truth has never been known and probably never will be known.

But a group of programmers made us on a videogame that has also won several industry awards.

Now, I have tried it and after an hour of play I can say that:

  1. there is not any character who is an evil spirit eager to kill me.
  2. my avatar is not able to run for more than 10-15 seconds, which means that, if an enemy chases you, you can’t escape.
  3. my avatar can not even make a little jump, which forces absurd turns to get around a branch.
  4. the game is reduced to a wander around the mountain looking for diary pages.
  5. you don’t have a single indication of where you are, the map is in your hand, but you have to go to intuition to understand what to do.
  6. you can also play for 10 hours in a row, but if you don’t reach a camp (always empty) you can’t save the game and then you lose all the progress made.
  7. there is no possibility of defeating the enemies beacuse there is no weapon.

In practice I would call it a “simulator of walks on snowy mountains” and nothing more.

A tragic event was used to create a videogame, but the tragedy in question was not a common thing.

His aura of mystery about the fate of those boys, the latent radioactivity, the tent slashed from the inside to escape from no one knows what… everything contributed to making the incident an event even after decades.

And on this tragic event a group of Polish programmers made money with a product that is not even that great.

Everything, I would say, once again confirms my theories about horror.