Knack is a delightful game for all ages, from the hardcore to the casual. At first glance, due to the bright and colorful aesthetic, you might think Knack is a game meant for a younger audience. It really is a game for all ages though with the colorful scenery and family friendly story while at the same time offering some challenge to experienced gamers. In this game you play as the character Knack, someone who is built out of ancient relics and can change his size depending on how many relics you have. As you go through the game you will come across different relics that will allow Knack to turn invisible, turn him into somewhat of an ice man, turn him into a wooden man and more. Joining you along the journey is the doctor who created you, Lucas, Ryder and someone else you meet later on.
In the world of Knack ancient relics are being sought out for the power they contain. They can do any number of things from allowing Knack to change his size and shape to the bigger relics being able to power large airships and much more. There are a couple of different stories within Knack and through the course of the game you will bounce back and forth between them. Many years ago there was the Crystal Wars between humans and goblins which humans won with the end result being banishing Goblins out of civilization and forcing them to live in the wilderness and basically start over. One goblin wasn’t going to take that lying down and spent a long time building up an army and then later attacking human settlements to both strike back at the humans as well as collect ancient relics. The game starts out with the goblin threat with them sending you to try and destroy their base of operations so they can’t attack any more cities. Along the way another story starts up, also tied in with ancient relics. There is a door that people believe houses incredible relics but the key has been long lost. Someone who you thought was an ally turns out to be the exact opposite and you need to find the key before they do. If I go too much further in to the story I risk spoiling certain events and I’ll just say that while it isn’t the strongest story you will find, it was enough to pull me through the game.
Knack is a platformer reminiscent of another classic Sony series, Crash Bandicoot. You’ll make your way through environments jumping, ducking, taking out secret walls and more. Your abilities depend on the size you are at any given moment. Being small has its advantages since you can obviously get into really small areas that you otherwise couldn’t. Being small also means that you aren’t quite as powerful and it might take a little more to dispose of enemies whereas when you are really big you can take out most enemies with a single swipe or pick up parts of the environment like cars to throw at airships that are trying to attack you. Going through Knack I was surprised that at the difficulty level. This game definitely isn’t a pushover but at the same time it certainly isn’t impossible. I managed to get through the game just fine, you just can’t mindlessly run into any given situation. There were instances where I got stuck for a few minutes and it felt great once I stopped, momentarily strategized and then put my plan into action and was successful. There are times where you will be punished if you make stupid mistakes but there aren’t really any enemies that are too tough as long as you approach the situation the correct way. I personally enjoyed the level of difficulty as it kept me on my toes and there were times when I felt like I accomplished something after getting past a particular bothersome part.
Knack also has different abilities that you can utilize to your advantage. My favorite one was basically turning Knack into a hurricane and then going up to enemies and quickly wiping them out. This worked on most enemies but you only remain a hurricane for a very limited time and it isn’t something you can use all the time. These abilities require sunstones, which you can find laying around the environment as you go through the game. Once you get the required number of sunstones you can unleash one of Knack’s powers.
As you progress you will also come across a plethora of secret rooms. These secret rooms could house anything from a part that you need to finish building something to a crystal relic to simply more sunstones. As you find more and more parts you will be able to build different items. These items include a combo meter, a device that will tell you when you are close to a secret room, something that will give your attacks a bit more power and more. One interesting mechanic they have here is when they utilize your PSN friends list. At the beginning of the game I found a treasure chest that had something in it but I was given an option. Did I want to take what was in the chest or did I want to take an item that a friend had found earlier in his game? It is a great idea and, theoretically, it could help you potentially find that one item you need to build another object.
Knack also features some co-op play where a friend can jump in and jump out at any time. The second player will control Knack’s shiny metallic helper, Robo Knack. Robo Knack plays pretty much just like Knack, however, he can also “donate” parts to Knack and help to heal him by pressing the triangle button. This co-op is local only unfortunately which means you can only play with friends or family that are sitting on the couch next to you and not your friends on PSN. If you happen to own a PS Vita you can even play via remote play while someone else is using the television. Remote Play seems to work remarkably well and I went through a chapter on the Vita with no lag or anything.
After you beat the game some extra content will open up to you. First of all you can choose to go through the story again with a “New Game +” type of option. If you don’t want to do that just yet you can play specific chapters again with the chapter select, engage in a time attack where you have to race to finish a challenge as quickly as possible or a coliseum attack where you have to fight to survive in an arena battle.
Going through Knack there were a couple of issues. Knack is a game where there is a fixed camera that you don’t have any control over. That is fine for the majority of the game but there were instances when me being able to control the camera would have been beneficial. It seemed like there were a few times when my character died simply because I couldn’t see what was coming due to the camera angle. There were also some times when the controls didn’t seem to be as responsive as they could have been. Perhaps it was simply a design decisions that I don’t really care for but there were times when Knack would miss a jump and then it would take a moment or two to recover and leave me vulnerable to an enemy attack. There were also times when I was close to an enemy and tried to hit him with an air attack but Knack had trouble targeting him and would miss which can be frustrating. The story in Knack isn’t the best and, honestly, is pretty bare bones. Other than collecting relics I never really understood the motivation of either the protagonist or antagonist. The villain wanted to get the artifacts presumably to try and take over the world or something but that is only an assumption on my part. It isn’t really explained what he intends to do should he be successful in his plan. All we know is that he needs to be stopped.
Overall, Knack is a really solid launch game for the PS4. It isn’t perfect but it is a good amount of fun, especially if you like these more old school type platformers. The difficulty level is definitely there which should provide challenge to core gamers or you can simply put the game on easy if you want less of a challenge and more of an experience. Knack doesn’t have a really strong story but the gameplay and everything else helped get me through the campaign. I had fun with the different experiences in the game from being a really small Knack to being super-sized where I could take out almost anything with the swipe of my hand and just lay waste to anyone or anything that stood in my path. If you are someone who enjoys old school type platformers then you definitely need to give Knack a try and your kids or friends can even jump into the experience with you.
Originally posted on Gaming Target