I was admittedly a bit late to the Knack party prior to launch. I had heard the name and knew it was an exclusive launch title coming out for the Playstation 4 and that was more or less the extent of my knowledge. It wasn’t until our own Gary Smith put some information in our forums that I started to become somewhat interested in the title. From there the more and more I researched it seemed the more I would become excited for the game. Fast forward to now and not only have I had time to sit and digest the game but I’ve had time to complete a play through. So the question: does it hold up?
For me to answer that question I think first you need to understand what Knack is. Knack is part of gaming that used to be very dominant on consoles but has become a lot more scarce in recent years. Most of the market now days is dominated by huge open worlds, games that are very story driven, and first person shooters. So let me say right away that none of those elements are in Knack. While there is a story to Knack, it’s not really what drives the game.
So what is Knack then? On it’s surface it’s a Platformer, but I view it as something a little more. For me it’s a love letter to gaming’s past and hopefully future. It’s a game that at it’s very core is something that a lot of people sometimes forget how important it is in gaming; basic fun. Which is where you need to ask yourself, what is it you want out of a video game? For me I went in simply wanting a game for myself that I could enjoy putting some time into and be challenged while it still being a game that my oldest daughter (whom has never played a Playstation) could enjoy. To that extent all my expectations were met. If you are in a similar boat, then I say go for it. If you are someone who solely enjoys more Mature titles in vein of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed etc. then this may not be a game for you. At the same time there is plenty of room for crossover if at your very core you are simply a gamer open to try any game that is fun (there’s that word again); which is where I’d place myself.
Ah, the meat and potatoes so to speak. What good is a game with flawed Gameplay? As mentioned, Knack is a Platformer and plays similar to games such as some of the older Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank games. It essence you are going from point A to point B clearing out baddies before progressing to the next area. In some instances you will also have fairly simple puzzles to solve in order to progress.
Knack himself has two main types of powers initially that he has in order to deal with the enemies he faces. His main type is the relics you pick up as you go. Relics can heal Knack as well as help him grow in size. The bigger Knack is, the bigger his health bar and the more damage he can deliver. You also will use relics in certain points in the game in order to progress further. They may be needed to open a door or even to restart a power source. There are special relics that you find later in the game which give you different abilities but I’ll leave those as a surprise. The other power that Knack possesses is the Sunstones. Each time you break one of these stones it works towards filling a meter than when filled, it allows you to unleash one of three powerful attacks depending on the button combination you push.
It is a bit linear in the sense that you aren’t exploring a vast open world and are controlled as to where you may explore. The exception being the hidden areas scattered through the worlds in which you find parts to various gadgets that can help your gameplay by providing things such as slowing down time during successful attacks, detecting secret areas, and other helpful features. You also can find crystals that allow you to play the game as different variations of Knack once you’ve found them all. Really adds a layer of replay value to the game.
In terms of the enemies themselves you will have to be leery of their attacks. In some cases if you simply run in like a madman you will be one shot killed. Each enemy type has it’s own attack patterns and how you react to them will go a long way in determining just how long you survive; especially when you are in your smallest form.
Speaking of survival, don’t let the lighter tone and look of the game fool you; it’s not a walk in the park. By design Easy is supposed to be for beginners or newcomers to the genre, Normal presents a bit of a challenge and Hard should be more difficult. Anybody who saw my stream, I completed my first playthrough on Normal and it still presented a decent challenge at times. Not to the point of complete frustration, but enough to keep you fully invested. I can’t speak on Hard yet as I haven’t had the opportunity to try it as of the time of this writing, but I can say that so far Easy has been perfect for my daughter whom is new to Playstation completely.
Knack also feature couch Co-Op (no online feature) that is pretty basic. Player one controls Knack while player two controls Robo-Knack. You can either play the story mode or once you have beaten the game you can play Arena Mode. The story mode plays out the same though it is worth mentioning that player two even if signed in to their PSN account WILL NOT get trophies. While some may not like that, the truth of the matter is the Co-Op mode would be very easy to exploit since Robo-Knack basically can instantly respawn as long as Knack is still alive. Thus I think the decision was made to not allow player 2 to have access to trophies since they don’t have the same consequences to their actions. It’s definitely a small blemish but not one that I think should sway you. The Arena Mode, which features an online leaderboard, is probably the mode most people will spend with Co-Op. It’s more or less a smaller scale timed wave attack mode.
Look and Feel
While this isn’t the game to truly show off what your new PS4 is capable of, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the graphics of the game. The colors were very vibrant and everything looked crisp. I also felt like the “cartoonish” feel really added to the charm of the game. Also doesn’t hurt to have a game that as a parent draws your kids in and keeps them interested while you play without featuring content that would be questionable for them. Also didn’t notice any glitches or major clipping (only experienced some at one point towards the end but was very minor) during my playthrough.
The controls of the game are very responsive. Not at any point did I feel that Knack was reacting in a way that was different than I was telling him or did I experience a delay in his reactions. The scheme used is very simple in that it only makes use of the primary four buttons and analog sticks for movement, avoiding the triggers all together. Due to this, it’s also very easy for newcomers to learn the controls very quick and without issue.
The Final Say
Knack is a buy; never at any point did I regret the purchase. In fact it has so far dominated the vast majority of my PS4 time and only left my system once prior to completion. Just to be clear Knack isn’t just a solid Launch Title it’s a solid title; one that I hope is the start of something fresh for the new generation.
Knack gets a three out of five: GOOD.
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