Platforming games are back on the PS4. Exactly how good, or bad is this game, let’s take a deeper look into Knack and explore.
The premise of the game is fairly simple. You play the entire game as Knack. A creature created by the Doctor who is made up of magical relics from a time long ago. Knack, himself, will either grow in size and strength as you progress through the game, or shrink down to size as he uses some of his Relics to solve puzzles and to power equipment.
The enemies that you face are a rinse and repeat type. What I mean by this is you will encounter the same enemies in different levels. The only difference is instead of a Goblin having an axe in one level, he may have a hammer or a sword in the next level. The Mechs are a little different, but not by much. They go by the same recipe as the Goblins.
This makes the combat fairly repetitive. If you study the attacks of each enemy you will start to notice a pattern evolving. Normally the Goblins will perform three to four moves then stand there for a second or two before either jumping back or starting their attacks again. This gives you time to plan your stragety of when to attack and when to back off. There is no blocking in this game. You can either attack or can make a quick dash movement to avoid an attack. The Mechs are the same way. The only difference here is that they are bigger, of course, and carry guns. Same strategy applies though. Wait for them to finish shooting or swinging their weapons, then move in once they stop for a quick second and deliver your hits. Of course there are the typical bug enemies you will face and some other odd and ends enemies. Those also apply to the same fighting sequence as the main mobs you will face through this game. While it sounds fairly simple and easy, it can get a little bothersome when a group of them are together. The AI controls each mob individually. You will be up against, for example three Goblins and then have a Mech or two in the background with long range weapons. The AI doesn’t attack all at once. It does control when each mob attacks. So you can be fighting off a Goblin when a Mech starts to shoot at you. It can get a little hectic but still fairly doable.
Knack, himself, really doesn’t have all that much in terms of attacks. There is the typical melee of course. Which when Knack gets bigger his melee gets stronger, naturally. He doesn’t carry any type of guns, grenades or anything of the liking. What he does use is some abilities called Sunstone Powers. There are three types of powers that he can use. First one is a Tornado ability. This can be used by activating it and Knack uses the relics that are attached to his body in a Tornado type attack. It lasts for a few seconds and can be used on multiple enemies at once. The second ability is a ground pound ability that sends a shockwave out around him. This can be good if you are getting ganged up on and can also clear out an area. The third ability is his long range attack. This allows Knack to essentially shoot Relics out and hit enemies from up on a ledge, cliff or other places he can’t reach. It can also hit multiple enemies at once. You acquire these abilities very early on in the game. Unfortunately, there is no leveling these up. These are powered by a crystal called Sun Stones. You will find these in every part of the game. That doesn’t mean you can go all trigger happy with these. They require a lot of energy to perform and the stones that you find don’t replenish a lot. I typically saved them for when I encountered a large group of enemies.
The Platforming aspect of the game can get a little bothersome. When Knack jumps he goes into a roll (smaller version is just a hop). This can cause him to get stuck on some ledges. There was a lot of time when I tried to jump to the next platform that Knack would just roll on the edge and fall back down. This was slightly annoying as you had to make your way up a few moving platforms that only allowed you to jump just once before they were no longer available. The best way around this problem is to jump early before you get to the next platform. While it wasn’t a game breaking moment, it did add a little annoyance factor into it. There was one annoying thing that got me. When you had to climb a wall, it would take two to three tries before Knack would grab onto the wall to start climbing. I like to jump onto a wall to help the climbing process. Not only is it quicker but it also helps give a little feeling of “Spider-Man” ability. Knack never grabbed the wall on the first try. He would just air roll into it acting like I was trying to jump up on top.
As I mentioned before, Knack can grow in size as you progress through the game. At some point he gets so big that he starts to feel a little clumsy walking around. His speed gives off a sense of slowness in some parts of the game. Later on in the game Knack will literally walk on top of your enemies. Giving you sense of just how large you have become. His strength can make up for it. You can pick up tanks and bash through large boulders and trees with ease. Of course the larger you get the larger the health bar becomes as well. Unfortunately your Sun Stone bar stays the same. When you can get just plow over enemies you really don’t need the special abilities.
Along the way you will also pick up some extra alternative materials. These include clear crystals, which are used for walking past security lasers. There is also Wood which can be used to light furnaces, just don’t get hit with a flaming attack at your wood will literally start to burn off. The last one is ice, which really doesn’t have a use, it just makes him look bad ass. You will only acquire these when the games needs you to. You can’t carry these from level to level possessing those different materials. Once you are done with them, Knack removes them.
The controls themselves are very responsive. Not once did I try to perform something and it didn’t respond. Everything was spot on and didn’t feel laggy at all. Movement was quick and fluid. The need to quickly change direction was responsive as well. Everything felt good. Using Knack’s abilities worked every single time as well.
The graphics in this game are bright, beautiful and colorful. There was no draw distance. The only drawback that I had was the fix camera. There was a few areas where I wanted to swing the camera around to look at the environments. Only to have Knack fall from a cliff as he made a dash move off the edge. Such as an overlook of a large body of water, rolling green hill sides in the background and old ruins on a cliff side. While beautiful to look glance it, you really couldn’t take in the whole experience. There was some instances during the gameplay that the camera prevented you from seeing some of your enemies off the screen. Like always this made you vulnerable to an attack that you literally didn’t see coming. It didn’t happen a lot but it was enough to mention it.
Even with some of the repetitiveness and slight problems, Knack is a fun game to play. It has been a while since a decent Platforming game has come out. The added difficulty levels really makes you strategize on how you are going to engage your enemies and make good use of your abilities. If a Knack 2 comes out in a few years it should address some of these issues and really step up the Platforming genre. Until then I would suggest everyone at least give this game a chance. It will really surprise you.