Studio Japan is known for its many great titles, unfortunately it probably won’t be remembered for its latest. Knack is a PS4 launch title, it’s not really a bad game, my children have certainly enjoyed playing through parts of it, it's just that there are only so many levels you can rinse and repeat before even a four year old gets bored.
Knack is a relic absorbing life-form, and the more relics he absorbs, the bigger he becomes. It’s an interesting idea and one that often succeeds, however the game is hamstrung by the fact that it’s repetitive, with the story not doing enough to keep you gripped throughout the game’s 13 levels. Probably the worst thing about this game is that it feels very much empty. While the main elements such as the characters and enemies have great detail, the surrounding environments feel like they were a second thought and this certainly doesn’t help motivate you to keep playing.
The main gameplay usually sees Knack starting off as a small sized character and building himself up with relics throughout. These relics are found in each level and when they come into contact with Knack they’ll attach to him like a magnet, seeing him grow in size each time. Often the game will think of a way to make him smaller again, such you as having to use his relics to open a door or through enemy technology sucking the relics out of him. Knack will also loose these relics when damaged by enemies, so if you’re having a particularly bad fight, Knack could easily go from large to small and since relics represent life, he’ll be killed if you let them run too low. To mix things up a little, later in the game Knack can absorb ice, wood and metal which helps add variety to the gameplay, although it really isn’t enough to keep you entertainment for very long.
The main problem with Knack is that it’s just such a grind. I’m not sure why, but the developers have included no puzzles, no challenges, it’s just a case of getting through the levels by growing big, hitting the enemies and occasionally jumping on a few platforms. Most classic platformers mix the gameplay up a little, but Knack doesn’t and this is a real shame, for the idea certainly has some potential.
On the positive side, at least the combat tries to do something different. By collecting power crystals, Knack can fill three bars, each of which will allow him to pull off a super attack against the enemies. This is pretty handy, because even though the enemies lack any real intelligence, they can be quite tough to defeat sometimes. Super Attacks include the likes of a Tornado which causes massive damage, or he can even throw his relics at enemies, which has a devastating effect.
Away from the combat, there are lots of collectibles to find, most of which are hidden behind walls or rocks. Usually it’s pretty obvious to see the hidden areas, although if you’re focusing on just getting through the level then you may miss them. Finding a chest will present you with the ability to improve Knack’s skills or if you find enough parts, build gadgets which help throughout the course of the adventure.
There is so little going for the gameplay that I’m really struggling to find the words to say about it. it goes without saying that the best part of Knack is when he grows to huge heights and squashes the enemies below him with ease. This is definitely the most fun part of the game and one that you’ll look forward to as you grind through the rest of the level. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as squashing some tiny little thugs which Knack’s huge relic-laden foot.
I really wish I could think of something more positive to say about Knack, but I can’t. As a parent I’m desperate for a game which will keep my children entertained for a few hours here and there and although they enjoyed Knack to begin with, my kids won’t even look at it twice now, and that's just after a few days.
If there is one redeeming feature in Knack then it’s probably the graphics. Sometimes it looks quite stunning when watching the cutscenes (which are otherwise a snore-fest) or when Knack calls upon the relics and thousands of tiny particles fill the screen as he grows to epic proportions. Perhaps even the co-op adds a little extra that’d otherwise be missing, but it’s not enough for me to recommend this game.
I’m sure if you have ordered Knack then you’ll play through it and get some entertainment out of it, but I can honestly say, to anyone with a family looking for a game for the household to play, that you’d be better looking in the direction of LEGO Marvel SuperHeroes, because Sony’s Knack is nothing more than average.
Words by Joe Anderson.
@_wotta | PSN/Xbox LIVE: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ It Has Co-op
+ Particle Effects Look Lovely
- Boring Story
- Environments Feel Empty
- Gameplay is a grind