Knack 2 – Review

I didn’t know if I was ever going to get to play Knack 2. The original was a launch title for the PlayStation 4 and while it was a good game, it met with a somewhat mixed reception. While I personally enjoyed the original Knack I feel like Knack 2 improves upon it in pretty much every way. It seems to control better even though some of the platform is a tad float-y. If you are someone who had a problem with the difficulty of the original title you can put it on easy mode here. Don’t expect it to be a complete cakewalk but it should be much more manageable for those who perhaps don’t play platformers much and aren’t used to them. You can also play Knack 2 either solo or with a friend to add in a little extra fun and chaos. If one of you gets left behind while playing then the person lagging behind will be warped to where the person in front is, which can be beneficial if there is an area where Player 2 is having a lot of difficulty getting through. Simply “warp” to where Player 1 is and you will be good to go.

The events of Knack 2 take place one year after the original. The game opens up with your city under attack with it being up to Lucas and Knack to figure out what it is going on and how to stop it. As you traverse through the city you quickly see how big the challenge is in front of you as you face off against monstrous enemies. Knack comes up with some clever ways of dealing with these enemies that I won’t spoil here but suffice it to say that he solves the problem, at least temporarily. After that immediate problem is fixed you begin your jet-setting adventure across the globe to try and find answers to questions that have been a mystery for generations. I won’t go into any more detail than that as I want you to have fun exploring the game for yourself and experiencing the story, but I will say I found the story very enjoyable.

As you progress in the game Knack will absorb relic energy from chests as well as from some enemies. Once you have acquired enough relic energy you push down on the touch pad on the Dualshock 4 to bring up the skill tree for the game. There are four different areas of focus here, however, you don’t get to pick the order in which you unlock stuff. The first category that opens up to you is “Way of Speed,” followed by “Way of Strength” followed by Way of Skill and more. Within these sections of the skill tree you will give Knack more power so that his attacks are more effective, more speed so that he can attack quicker as well as dodge attacks easier, the ability to land a “finishing blow” after a multi punch combo and much more. Within the categories that are open to you, you will have to decide what order you want to unlock things in. While I was going through the game I tended to favor attack power above pretty much everything else so that I could destroy enemies standing in front of me a bit easier. Once all of the basic skills are unlocked in “Way of Speed” you will then have “Way of Strength” open up and then you will have to work on unlocking those skills. It should be noted that it will probably take you a couple of playthroughs if you want to unlock everything, especially if you are going for the platinum trophy. Knack 2 does offer a New Game+ once you beat the game so you can start all over with everything from the first time you went through the game or you can visit the world map and choose when and where you will play the missions.

While I was going through the game and upgrading Knack I found myself really enjoying the gameplay. Standard platforming mechanics apply here with double jumping, hovering in the air for a few moments and things of that nature. As I mentioned up above there were times when I thought some of the platforming felt a bit float-y but I was able to adjust accordingly. You will have to adjust as well as there are some pretty trick platforming sections once you get to the last few chapters. With that said I never got stuck for more than a few minutes at any given part so I was able to keep pushing forward and the game moved along at a great pace. The combat in the game has your standard punches and kicks but Knack can do much more. One of my favorite strategies later on in the game was jumping into the air and then performing a body slam which would result in splash damage on all of the enemies that were around me. Then I would throw an item to make sure they were immobilized and then I would perform a multi-punch combo that would drain their health significantly, if it didn’t eliminate them outright. You will have to adopt to the situation and think before you enter battle though. If you run into a big fight without a plan there is a good chance you might not survive the fight, especially in the later stages.

One of the things I liked about the original title and something I enjoyed about Knack 2 as well is, if I got killed then it was my fault. What I mean by that is if I was having trouble in a particular battle I could simply change my tactics and go with the flow. There is one enemy that you will encounter that is pretty much untouchable. Nothing I could do seemed to hurt this particular opponent so what I ended up doing was simply hitting him with a flurry of punches that would back him up and, eventually, send him flying off the edge of a cliff. There is more than one way to take out an enemy in Knack 2, you just have to figure out which method is the most effective for the situation that you are in. Obviously the bigger that Knack gets the more damage he can do so I would always scour the environment to try and collect relics and sunstones. During my exploration I would also hunt down hidden chests as well that give me parts to put together gadgets, such as a combo meter or something that will help alert me to other hidden chests. When Knack is at his smallest height he is just over 2 ½ feet tall but there were some instances in the game where Knack was over 30 feet tall. That is quite a difference obviously and it was a good amount of fun to simply wreck shop during those times where I had Knack at his peak height. There are some other really fun moments in the campaign where you use size to your advantage but I don’t want to spoil them for you here as they were a pleasant surprise and it came at just the right time in the campaign.

For those who are curious about how long of a campaign Knack 2 is, it took me roughly 14 ½ hours to beat. Keep in mind that is with me searching through environments to find relic energy and hidden chests. If you simply want to run from point A to point B you will likely be able to knock off a few hours. There are 15 chapters in Knack 2 and each chapter has a certain number of levels such as 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 and so on. Aesthetically Knack 2 is a pretty game with some wonderful and diverse environments. You start out in a city as I mentioned up above but then next you’ll find yourself in a forest, with another chapter taking place in a desert, with another chapter taking place in an underground dungeon and things like that. The audio in the game is well done and I enjoyed watching relationships develop in the game, both existing ones and new relationships with people you meet on your journey. There is one particular new character that I would like to see return if we ever get a Knack 3 to join up with Lucas and Knack on more adventures. The way things ended up I already have some ideas with what a third installment in the franchise could bring to the table and I’m sure Mark Cerny and his team have their ideas as well.

Once you have gone through and beat the campaign there are a number of things that open up to you, beginning with the aforementioned New Game+ mode. With this mode you can continue playing your game from the start but this time you will have all of your abilities and items that you gained in your first playthrough. Then you’ll see an “Extra Content” menu that suddenly appeared. Going into there you will find some Time Attack courses as well as some Coliseum Attack courses. On the Time Attack courses you will need to complete the course as quickly as possible. Going through certain rings will help give you more time, as will defeating enemies along your way. Different enemies will give you different amounts of time so it will probably take you at least a few runs to learn which enemies you want to eliminate and which ones you want to try and avoid. Depending on what your time is you will get between one and five stars. On the first course you will need to get 29.99 seconds or under to get five stars and if you go above 90 seconds you will earn yourself one star, so you can kind of see the range that you have to work with. With Coliseum Attack you will have to deal with a wave of enemies. The more enemies you eliminate the more will show up and if you can go awhile without getting hit you will be able to really rack up the points. For this one your score is what is most important with 40,000 giving you five stars on the first course and anything under 4,999 netting you one star. You can play both the Time Attack and Coliseum Attack either solo or with a friend. If you are someone to wants to get the Platinum trophy in Knack 2 I do believe you will need five stars on all of the courses for both Time Attack and Coliseum Attack.

If you didn’t find all of the collectibles during your first run through Knack 2 you can also use the World Map to go back to whatever chapter you want. One thing I really appreciate here is that they tell you how many chests you found in a chapter. So, for example, as of the time I am writing this review I have found 1 of 3 of the hidden chests in chapter one while in chapter 12 I found all seven on my first try. I always appreciate when a development team puts in statistics like that so I don’t have to wonder where I missed some of these chests. You will also see different challenges for you to undertake in each mission. If you choose to replay the second chapter then you will see that there are three optional objectives for you to complete. In this instance it is complete the first level of the second chapter within five minutes and fifteen seconds, destroy three white boxes and then clear the stage with a score of 123,000 or higher. Completing these optional objectives will earn you badges and there is at least one trophy tied to those badges so you will want to work on these as well if you are a completionist.

I had a tremendous amount of fun playing Knack 2. As I mentioned up above, I enjoyed playing the original title during the PlayStation 4’s launch but Knack 2 improves upon it in almost every way. There are four difficulty modes for you to choose from so that more people can enjoy playing the game. Having to switch back and forth between big and little Knack is easy and only takes a moment. You will want to pay attention to the environment to find those hidden chests as they are usually in an area only little Knack can access. If you enjoy platformers and own a PlayStation 4 then I highly recommend you give this title a chance. If you want to try before you buy there is a free demo available on the PlayStation Store. Otherwise go pick up Knack 2 and enjoy an adventure that is suitable for all ages and skill sets.

Score: 8.5/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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