Knack PlayStation 4 Review
Mark Cerny is no stranger to video games. He’s worked on Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter (my favorite video game series), and various other games. So when he announced at the PlayStation event earlier this year, that he was working on a PS4 launch title I was excited. The trailer didn’t show much but it did look like it could be promising. When I finally got my hands on Knack, I was rather surprised.
Cerny stated in an interview before the launch, that it would be a “Second Purchase”. What he meant by that was he already knew that most PS4 owners would buy games like Killzone, BF4, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, etc. seeing how they would be the more popular. On top of that he wanted to make a game that was more for the family and not join the overcrowded pool of mature launch titles. Knack is a family game through and through. It can also be somebody’s first game, teaching them the basics of timing your attacks and using strategy.
Knack runs smoothly, at 30-60 fps. The combat seems a little reminiscent of God of War, minus all of the blood and gore, of course. You can’t control the camera; the right analog stick is used to dodge attacks. You only use the triangle, circle, square, x, and analog sticks as command inputs, so it’s not that hard to grasp, even for newcomers. Anyone can pick it up and play, there’s even a local co-op. A second controller can be hooked up and somebody can play as a robo-knack. He can heal Knack or fight alongside him. Knack moves from area to area in the game’s 13 linear chapters. In each area there are multiple enemies knack must fight. Usually ranging from 3 to 6 enemies at a time. Fighting these enemies gets fairly repetitive though. There is quite a variety of enemies to fight, but going from area to area fighting and moving on, you might get bored pretty fast. You have your melee attack and you have super moves. Super Moves are varied attacks that knack can use, like turning himself into a tornado, shooting projectiles, or even jumping up in the air and coming down damaging all enemies around him. They aren’t’ infinite though. You have to collect crystals scattered all through the level of the chapter. I played through the game on normal. And while it’s a fairly easy game, I found myself getting stuck on certain parts and also dying quite a lot. Mostly because of my bad timing at jumping or attacking. Knack also has collectibles called gadgets and crystal relics; they’re like little boosters to help you. They do take a while to find though; you may have to go through multiple play throughs, although if you have friends who own knack, you can swap whatever collectible you find for the one they found during their play through seeing how they are all randomized.
The graphics of Knack, while pretty, aren’t anything that you couldn’t find on last gen. seeing how this is a launch title I was expecting it to look better, but for what the game is, it works. The characters look like fine pieces of clay. That’s not an insult to the art direction at all; It just makes me wonder why Knack has better detail and looks more realistic than his counterparts.
The plot of Knack is all over the place. This is what disappoints me the most. With Cerny directing this, I thought he would have looked at the story and tried to touch it up a little. You see there’s a battle going on between the humans and goblins, this conflict is sparked when the goblins attack a human settlement. They attacked it because something happened in the past and the humans drove the goblins out of their homes. This is not touched on at all. The humans put together a team to stop the goblins and The Doctor who’s simply known as the Doctor along with his lab assistant Lucas unveil Knack. The plot changes from that to an evil billionaire, kidnapping Lucas, to the Goblin leader plotting revenge that never comes to fruition, to an evil relic monster bent on destroying the world. I don’t want to elaborate any further and spoil things for people, but the plot just lacks logic. And the voice actors don’t make it any better.
The voice actors fail to make me care about the story or its characters. Dramatic things happen and the voice actors sound like they are just reading something off the paper and not doing what they were paid to do. Knack has a deep voice but has very little dialogue. As bad as the plot is, the voice actors could have done a better job and make me care at least about the characters.
Also worth mentioning was Remote Play on Vita. It works smooth. I used it as a second screen and as a first controller while my roommate used the PS4 controller as the second one. Knack suffers from no small amount of technical hiccups. The game froze on me a few times, actually locking up my whole console and forcing a restart. As of this writing no patch has been released to improve stability.
Going into Knack I was hopeful for a game that would remind me of my childhood with platforming and an entertaining story, but that wasn’t what I was greeted with. Knack has a fair amount of flaws. It has good ideas but somewhere down the road it lost its way. It’s worth a play, but not one worth 60$. I would wait until this is 20$ or lower to play it, or just rent it.