Big Knack Attack.
I have a well-known issue with the original Knack. Sure, it was a launch game for Sony’s new console, but it never quite hit its stride. It looked like a game for younger players, but was too chaotic and the difficulty was poorly balanced. It lacked any type of depth to be interesting to core gamers. It just felt like a mish-mash of ideas poorly thrown together. The sequel was certainly not on my radar. While it still has issues, this sequel feels more improved than it has any right to be. I am big enough to eat crow when necessary. It feels weird saying it, but Knack 2 is a pretty good game.
Most of the core ideas from the original game carry over. Knack still grows in size by collecting relics. He still has punch and kick combos. The puzzle-solving is still tied to Knack’s ability to shrink in size to move across various obstacles. What has changed this time around is the amount of depth behind it, as well as the excellent pacing. Levels are broken up into smaller worlds with plenty of varying locales. Just when I was bored with one set piece, a new one seemed to arrive.
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
One of the biggest issues I had with the original game is that it never used its simplicity in interesting ways. Knack 2 solves those problems by designing levels and puzzles around the limited abilities he has. For example, Knack eventually gains the ability to gain elemental pieces, things such as freezing enemies or hardening his defenses. These elements leave behind statues that are used in various puzzles. It is all very simple stuff, but it works and it rarely gets dull.
Combat remains simple as well. Knack has a few more tricks this time around with charge punches and stun moves, but it remains mostly straightforward. There is also a skill tree and XP to gain to unlock minor tweaks on existing moves. Being able to dodge faster or speeding up special moves is a bonus, and I found myself loving the upgrade system. There are also hidden treasures that contain pieces that create perks. Finding them all will grant players the ability to add more bonuses to Knack’s repertoire. Again nothing overly complex here, but it all works in its simplicity.
Co-op also returns, but is sadly limited to local play. It is fun though, and the added dynamic and moves are a nice touch. The game has multiple difficulty settings so letting younger players join in the fun is really easy. The game has a much better save and checkpoint system as well. This eliminates having to do the same sections over and over again. Miss a jump? No worries, the game usually put me right back where I was. It is much more user-friendly this time around.
The story in Knack 2 falls short sadly. For such a unique character Knack is kind of a bore. Even his dialogue makes him sound like he doesn’t want to be there. The plot revolves around some ancient robots coming to life and terrorizing, but to be fair I never really cared. The characters are just so uninteresting and boring. The environments, while varied, are also kind of plain at times. I would like a little more diversity across the board when it comes to Knack 3’s presentation. (We all know it’s coming!)
One thing first party PS4 games have been doing lately though is really offering options for their Pro support. Knack is clean and crisp running on the Pro. There is an option for locked 30fps mode, and the game supports HDR, which is always nice. Even in its blandness the game looks sharp.
Knack 2 is the proper way to do a sequel. The ideas are solid and platform games of this quality are few and far between. I really did not like the first game, and was ready to write this one off as well. After spending some time with it though, it shocked me. It is also quite lengthy. The campaign clocks in at around a meaty 12 hours with the option to return for treasures, challenge mode, and of course co-op. This game is much better than it has any right to be.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.