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Knack Review

Knack was one of the early Playstation 4 launch titles back in 2013. It follows the story of Knack and his creator Doctor Vargas and friends on a journey to stop to assaults from the Goblins against mankind.

Knack himself seemed to be a character poised to be the next Crash Bandicoot for Sony. He is a curious character, made up of small relics all joined together by a central orb. Knack has this neat ability to take on more relics (or similar objects) to expand his physique, becoming stronger and scarier looking in the process.

Smashing boxes and other objects was certainly fun to watch Knack grow stronger. The Lego-like sound effects as he absorbs these relics sounded good too.

I’m just a little confused by him though- why does he have very human sounding voice? Wouldn’t a more robotic voice have suited his image? It just seemed a bit unusual whenever he spoke with the rest of the cast, but I suppose with video games anything goes!

You’ll start off with little Knack, but can grow in size over time.

As for the other characters I thought the voice acting was quite good for all of them. Unfortunately though, the characters themselves seemed a bit generic. You knew straight away who the good guys were, and especially who the bad guys were, or who were going to be bad.

The storyline itself never really interested me, but platformers aren’t really expected to have strong storylines in the first place. Speaking of platformers, as this game claims to be one, was one of a few areas that disappointed me.

The platforming was bare bones, and whatever platforming we did get, was so uninspired it’s like they didn’t really give it much thought.

Big Knack is far stronger than his smaller self.

I think that may be the best word to use with this game- uninspired. This also applies to the design of each level, as you’re mainly walking along from one battle to the next. Every chapter just feels like you’re doing the same thing, just in different setting.

Yes there are the occasional ‘hit 3 switches to process’ sort of formula, but we’ve done it all before. It feels like the whole game lacks any kind of creativity.

The entire game is very linear, which is fine if what’s been thrown at you is fun and entertaining, but in this case it sadly isn’t. The combat can be OK at times. Knack has a basic punch attack, and can pull of some abilities that use sunlight to help clear the more difficult sections.

But there’s clearly not much variety in what you do in battle. It is good that new enemies appear in each chapter, offering different attacks from the enemies you’ve faced before. This does keep the combat fresh as you play throughout the game, but you will face these same enemies again and again.

You’ll need to learn enemy attacks to avoid dying so quickly.

Relating to the combat is the game’s difficulty. I played Knack on the normal difficulty and still found it surprisingly challenging. Despite not being on the hardest difficulty, I would still die in usually only 2 hits, meaning I would be repeating the same battle over and over again.

While there’s nothing wrong with a good challenge, it needs to be fair, and I found myself getting frustrated more than anything. The checkpoint system doesn’t always help, as sometimes it would take you to the start of a series of battles, rather than just before each one.

I know as an old-school gamer I shouldn’t complain about this sort of thing. But for a game that looks like it’s aimed at children, you would think you could cruise through it.

And that brings me to my next big question about Knack: who is it really aimed for? The game looks like a Pixar movie both in its gameplay and cutscenes (which look great by the way), so you would think it’s for children.

But the difficulty would certainly put them off, so is it for more experienced gamers? It’s almost like this game is more of a tech demo than anything else. Being a launch title for the PS4, it’s clear they wanted to show off what the console is capable of.

The physics of the relics look great as they tumble out of objects and attach themselves onto Knack. They made good use of the speaker on the PS4 controller too. But I was actually surprised the touchpad wasn’t utilized, as that was a new feature for the controller.

The various locations do look nice, and Knack’s appearance can change throughout the game.

Sadly I can’t recommend this to anyone, of any age. There’s far better platformers and action games out there.

Maybe if you’re buying a cheap game for a child who hasn’t a played a good platformer before, then maybe buy them this, but make sure to put it on the easier difficulty for them.

Score: 5.7/10


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