Sackboy: A Big Adventure is the latest title featuring the adorable star of the LittleBigPlanet games. Of course this isn’t a LittleBigPlanet title per se with it being purely a platforming title, eschewing the “create” and “share” portions of the previous games. What we have here though is a really fun platformer, with a really cute protagonist who is trying to save the world and his friends from the evil villain Vex. In typical evil villain fashion, Vex wants everything under his control and he will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal. That includes kidnapping Sackboy’s family and friends to put them to work on building a contraption that will give Vex everything he desires. After the opening cinematic and getting introduced to the game’s story you are on your way to try and save both your friends and the place you call home.
There are five different lands for you to explore as you try to catch up to Vex and foil his evil plans. You start at the Soaring Summit and you will be immediately charmed by the aesthetic of the game and how everything ties seamlessly together. In terms of gameplay, there are a number of different things that you will be asked to do throughout your adventure. This is a platformer after all so there is definitely a lot of jumping from platform to platform, along with some light combat as you try to take out enemies, solve some light puzzles that will have you finding items throughout the levels, and more. There are also levels that will require a certain piece of equipment, and in those cases, you are given that tool at the beginning. For example, there are some levels where you might need to traverse a large gap or jump from area to area quickly. In those instances, you will be given a grappling hook at the beginning of the level so that you can navigate the terrain. Another instance will see you getting a light gun of sorts so that you can shoot boxes to get them out of the way, as well as being able to eliminate enemies from a distance. You are given all of the tools you will need to be successful, you just need the skills to get through the levels.
That brings us to the controls in Sackboy: A Big Adventure. For the most part, the controls work well. There are a few instances though where the game might require something that would have worked better if the controls were a tad bit more precise. There are some instances where finesse is required and that really isn’t a strong suit for the game. There were times where I needed to grab on to something in mid-air and instead of Sackboy grabbing on to it, he would simply bounce off of it and fall, causing me to have to restart from the most recent checkpoint. There were some other examples as well like having to jump from bubble to bubble but you had to give the game a second to recognize what you were doing or Sackboy would jump in the wrong direction, which could ultimately lead to you having to restart at a checkpoint. As I type this review I have this one instance stuck in my head where I needed to jump from bubble to bubble really quickly before a spotlight got me…but having to slow myself down a bit was counter-intuitive to the speed required to get through the section. Now, this certainly didn’t happen all the time. I was able to get through most of the game without issues but there were some areas where more refined controls would have been appreciated.
As you progress through the game you will earn different rewards in the form of costume pieces, dream orbs, and bells. The dream orbs tie in to the story and you will need a certain number of them before you can travel to the next land. You can get these dream orbs by fulfilling certain objectives in each level. You can beat a level without getting any of these dream orbs, however, like I said, you do need a certain number to unlock the path to the next land, so you want to get as many of the orbs as you can. If you can get the majority of them early on that can also help you out in the more difficult stages later in the game. I know for me that I got so many orbs early on that by the time I got to the last area, I only needed to earn three more orbs. This allowed me to focus on passing the levels themselves and not necessarily trying to hunt down every little thing. The costume pieces that you will find are different things that Sackboy can wear during your adventure. You can put different pieces together or wear entire outfits. My three favorite outfits were Elvis Sackboy, Lucha Sackboy, and Big Daddy Sackboy. After you beat each level, you are often given a chance to strike a pose with a trophy you earned, so I have a number of different pictures with these outfits. You can change outfits (and buy more) at Zom Zom’s, a store that is located in every land. The more lands you visit the more outfits become available to you. I will also say that some of my favorite levels in the game were the music based levels. Each level has music but there are a few that have the music tied in a bit to the action on the screen and it made me get into it just a bit more. For example, there is a level in the first land called “Treble in Paradise” and the song it uses is Uptown Funk with Bruno Mars and the way everything comes together is outstanding.
As you progress through the game and the story you will notice that there are empty areas in lands. These are secrets that you can unlock by accomplishing certain things in the main level. These include a genie’s lamp that will give you the opportunity to earn more bells to use at Zom Zom’s, as well as special timed levels, and the Knitted Knight Trials, which is a series of obstacle based, timed levels. These add a little something extra to Sackboy’s newest adventure and the Knitted Knight Trials allow you to compete with your friends to see who can cross the finish line with the quickest time. During this review process there were definitely instances of me turning on my PlayStation 5 and then once it was booted up I saw a notification that someone on my friend’s list had beat the time I posted the previous day. This adds some nice competition and some replayability to the title as you continue to go back to beat your friend’s best time.
As far as the other multiplayer components for Sackboy: A Big Adventure, only part of it was ready at launch. If you want to play with friends in offline couch co-op, two to four players can play through the whole game together right now, including some co-op only levels that you don’t have access to unless you are playing with friends. There will be an online multiplayer component to Sackboy: A Big Adventure however, that part was not ready at launch. Sony has stated they hope to have it in the game by the end of 2020. Once that gets up and running, and assuming it works the way I think it will, it will add another layer of fun to the game going through all of the levels with friends and watching the carnage that will undoubtedly ensue with multiple people trying to get through the level at the same time.
If you are someone who is a completionist and you like to find every little thing in games, Sackboy’s newest adventure will definitely keep you busy for a little while. Finding every item in every level is fairly easy at first but as you get into the more advanced levels, the difficulty level does increase and you’ll have to decide what you’ll want to accomplish first. You might have to go through a level multiple times to accomplish your goals. For example, one of the goals of each level is to get through it without dying. So you might want to go through the level once focusing solely on that, and then go through it again and try to get some of the more risky collectibles. I also appreciate that the game keeps you up to date on how many you have collected. When you go to a level in the main hub you can immediately see what you have done in that level and whether or not you need to replay it. If everything is gold you should be good to go. If not, then you have some more work to do. By pressing the “start” button it also brings up the world stats for the area you are in, telling you how many orbs you have collected, how many prizes you have found, and how much Knightly Energy there is to be discovered. On the screen where you are traveling from land to land, it tells you what you have done in each land so you know where you should focus your attention. I always appreciate it when a development gives you this information so that you aren’t simply guessing about what you have found and where you have found it.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a cute and charming title that works perfectly as part of the launch lineup for the PlayStation 5. Sackboy is an adorable protagonist and fans should love how the world looks and some of the different ideas that were implemented. It would be nice if the controls were a bit more refined as that would make certain things less frustrating. With that said though I made it through the game just fine and enjoyed how everything wrapped up. Be sure to check out those credits though as there is something after them that you might want to see. If you have been a fan of the LittleBigPlanet series in the past, I definitely recommend you picking up this title. Keep in mind that this is strictly a platforming title but that singular focus paid off and what we are left with is an enjoyable experience that can be played either solo or with friends.
Originally posted on Gaming Target