Knack (PlayStation 4) Review

By Joshua Goldsmith 07.07.2014 1

Review for Knack on PlayStation 4

How many children have imagined what it would feel like to play the hero in an animated movie? A creature that can grow in size and strength through a strange and mysterious relic system and save the budding human race from all manner of evil, including of course other humans? Sounds like a crazy concept, but this is exactly what Knack - a launch title from Sony Computer Entertainment's Japan Studio for the PlayStation 4, the team that did the amazing Puppeteer on PS3 - is presenting the community with. Directed by Mark Cerny, the producer of massive titles Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, hopes were understandably high for the beautifully designed launch title for Sony's new juggernaut.

Without spoiling the story, the game introduces Knack - a creature that seems to be a centrepiece for a bunch of stones named relics. They attach to Knack in a magnetic fashion and, handily, they also seem to be the main source of energy for, well, absolutely everything in the world. Think oil, electricity, and gas all rolled into one. The journey starts as a three-foot Knack is paraded around a science lab, defeating robots created for the sole purpose to show the power it possesses. As Knack displays the skills it has, it also acts as a handy tutorial and a sneak peek into the destruction caused when it grows larger and stronger. With the button configuration as simple as it's going to get - Square is a regular attack, Circle for a power move, and X to jump - it's very easy to get into for adults and children alike.

All things are not sunshine and rainbows, however. The goblins have attacked the humans and have stolen many of the relics in the world, undoubtedly for something sinister. It is up to Knack and friends to confront the leader of the goblins to get things straight.

Knack is an action game probably more comparable to a hack-and-slash adventure, as opposed to the platformer it was first believed to be. It is probably aimed at tweens with the easy to pick up controls, but the addition of a same console co-operative mode introduces a metallic Knack friend that uses a single-screen mechanic rather than split, allowing parents and friends alike to join in on the fun. It's a simple, but at times satisfyingly challenging, formula that will see a fair share of death as the player learns about new bad guys, making it hard to put down the controller. Plus, the colourful and detailed cartoon environments look lovely on the PS4 and are filled with plenty of hidden rooms and breakdown passages containing special relics and spare parts that allow Knack to build gadgets to power up certain abilities and incorporate the new relics into its growing body to make the journey easier as it progresses.

Screenshot for Knack on PlayStation 4

Being a PlayStation 4 exclusive game, it was rather a surprise that the game does not completely utilise the PS4 controller, given the introduction of a touch pad and a camera being included with many PS4 bundles. It feels like an opportunity wasted, and with the kind of animation that the team decided to go with, Knack feels more like a PS3 game at times, as opposed to the next gen treat that gamers were expecting. The storyline is basic and is easy to figure out where the writers are going with it after just a few minutes of seeing each character. There are no swerves that shock, and the story moves along in a linear and simple fashion, although it is worth noting that there is a hint of real underlying story further on, which echoes that of the American Indians 200 years ago and other colonisation stories. Even so, the story is fun to follow; it turns out not every story has to be complicated to be enjoyable as it introduces the player into each new area of bad guys in a vibrant and varied environment.

Sadly, the initial hopes of gathering an all-powerful Knack to slam through helicopter after tank are waylaid when it turns out Knack's relic gathering size is completely dictated inorganically through level design and there is nothing more frustrating than finally gathering that helicopter-swatting power to merely lose it all after one big fight to then jump in a small plane and start all over again. Not to mention the fact that when Knack does grow huge and continue to collect relics, the frame-rate jumps around due to all the loose objects.

The main story will take around eleven hours to finish, maybe longer if time is taken in finding all the hidden passages. Once completed, the game does present bonus modes that are unlocked after the first play-through, including Time Trial stages and an arena battle challenge that does allow the helicopter-swatting goodness, but, again, be prepared for some questionable frame-rate drops and little reason to play again if avid collection isn't a hobby.

Screenshot for Knack on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Overall Knack is a great little game to come out alongside a launch and is a breath of fresh air next to its sports and violence counterparts. It is beautiful, and looks absolutely fantastic in the style chosen. The controls are easy and the difficulty modes make it great for anyone to play. The story is simple-yet-charming and the characters are all very obvious in their roles but make them no less likeable. However, the lack of innovation in the controls department on a new console in an exclusive game, the lack of any online multiplayer longevity and noticeable frame-rate drops make this a tough one to justify buying at full price. Thankfully, now it isn't necessary to worry about that as, at time of writing, it is very easily found for a much lower price and, thus, well worth a play through.

Developer

SCE Japan Studio

Publisher

SCEE

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I thoroughly enjoyed Puppeteer and had high hopes for this...sadly it looks to have fallen short of the same quality level. I wonder if that's because it was rushed out the door for launch.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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