It’s time to review one of the big PS4 launch titles. Knack was meant to be the next Mario, Crash, or Spyro. He was going to change the gaming world and become a whole franchise. Unfortunately, just like PS All Stars Battle Royale, it was not meant to be. People were not overly thrilled with Knack and a lot of them said that it was repetitive and simply not as engaging as it could have been. Both are complaints that I can agree with to an extent, but Knack’s a fun enough game. I’d buy a sequel at some point although I admit that it wouldn’t be the most interesting series out there.
The Professor builds Knack (Mostly anyway. He doesn’t seem to fully comprehend Knack’s abilities and sentience so maybe he had some help and that’ll be a plot twist. I forgot if he ever gets a name either, but the Professor works just fine. Human cities have been attacked by Goblins and the army has started to get overwhelmed. The Professor decides to step in along with Knack. Together they crush the Goblins easily and decide to go to their home base to put an end to this. The situation gets more complicated than that when Vicktor and his army of robots decide that they want Knack. They need Knack to open up a tomb that leads to powerful Relics (Source of energy and power in this world) that could last them a life time. They also may have The Professor’s wife held hostage and if that’s the case….The Professor’s agenda may have just changed!
After playing a game like De Blob 2, I really can’t call Knack boring in the slightest. For the most part, it is a fun adventure. However, there are times where the plot will slow to a stand still as you rummage through a forest to grab relics or just walk around for a while. There are 13 chapters and each chapter has 3-5 levels in it. The game’s is of decent length. It isn’t too short, but I wouldn’t call it a long game either. If you play it for 2-3 hours a day then you’ll have it beat in about 3 shots. The plot does start right away so that’s good, but it keeps on changing direction because the Professor’s a little confused about what to do. He has to stop the Goblins, but he also has to stop the Robot army and he needs to free his wife as well. Plus, he wants the Relics for himself. As a result, the characters are constantly running from area to area without actually accomplishing their missions for a while. As an example, we decided to go stop the goblins in Chapter 3, but don’t get around to doing so until around Chapter 11.
I almost forgot to mention the Gameplay! It’s a 3D beat em up although it plays more like an action platformer. You can use standard punches to attack enemies or a jumping homing attack/dashing attack. Those are your only options so prepare to see the same punches thrown for the whole game. Once you’ve built up enough sun meter, you can also turn into a whirlwind or make a mini earthquake to startle the villains. Gaining relics in a level will fill up your health and Sunstone Crystals will fill up your energy. The minions can be a little tricky at times so just make sure that you wait and weigh your options before deciding to fight them.
The levels will have treasure chests scattered throughout them. They are always behind a fake wall so if you see something with cracks in it, give it a good punch. These chests have rare stones or parts in them. Once you collect them all (And there are quite a lot) you can unlock new forms for Knack and gadgets that will help you play through the game like a combo meter that increases your power and a secret radar. This is where the Knack’s Quest app will come in handy as it can at least earn you a few parts to save some time. Unfortunately, I don’t like how the Treasure Chests system is handled. For starters, you cannot find them through Chapter Select. The only way to grab the chests is to play the game over again and unfortunately, it seems like you can get old jewels after a while. This means that you may have to play the game several times until you finally get all of the pieces. Not a very appealing thought is it?
Despite that, the trophies seem fairly reasonable. There are a few speed challenges in there, but mostly it is about collecting everything and completing the game on all difficulties. It’s nothing that should be too difficult so much as it is just a little tedious. This does help the replay value though as it wouldn’t otherwise have any. There’s no multiplayer so the replay value is still a little sub-standard, but trophy hunters will still have their money’s worth. Not to mention that the price has gone down quite a bit since it first came out and that makes a big difference.
The soundtrack is not all that noticeable. It doesn’t really stick out I’m afraid and comes across as generic. As for the graphics, I don’t think that they did a great job of showing off the PS4’s power. The character designs are comically bad to the point where the cutscenes are more humorous than anything else. The characters keep walking towards each other only for the tables to turn so they all keep walking in circles. The character proportions are really off for some and for others the designs are just really cartoony. The in game graphics are solid though. It may have just been the artistic style that didn’t work very well for Knack.
The Professor was an okay lead and I actually agreed with his decision to go grab the relics. Sure it would be dangerous for the rest of the world, but unlimited energy is also a great positive. I typically sided with him over Lucas in their various debates. Lucas was very annoying from start to finish. He was always blowing up at the Professor and just being an ingrate in general. Seriously, the Professor could do no right as far as Lucas was concerned. Everything had to be done his way or the highway. Lucas always feels like he is right even when he isn’t. He never develops into a good character. As the main villain Vicktor is all right, but you have to like the more political villains. He does seem a little more emotional as he actually gets visibly upset when Katrina is seemingly destroyed. The way that he goes out was pretty great even if it is a little anti climactic for his fans. Katrina was a good rival for Knack although I still have to question how they were rivals in the first place. It’s seriously a mismatch no matter how you look at it. It was impressive to see her dodging his blows though and getting a robot suit towards the end was a good idea.
Ryder is an Indiana Jones parody and easily the best character in the game. He makes the hero call and never leaves a man or woman behind even when the stakes are high. The Professor and Lucas couldn’t care less about saving the villains, but Ryder makes the right calls. I’d definitely want him to be in the sequel. Gundahar is the leader of the goblins so you’d think that he has a big role, but he actually doesn’t do all that much in the game. I also can’t take him seriously thanks to his design. Charlotte’s The Professor’s wife and she is a very bad character. She is nursing a grudge with the Professor for not finding her soon enough and she builds the weapons for the goblins, yet doesn’t show a lot of remorse for it. Her character arc is incredibly rushed and aside from the Professor, nobody should be thrilled about having her back at this point.
As for Knack himself, he’s an okay character, but he’s not that engaging or charismatic like most leads. He even admits that he doesn’t do the thinking, just the execution. Main characters don’t have to be smart, but the classic “Strong, but not smart” character is typically the side character for a reason. It’ll get old if the character is in the lead since you can expect the same jokes time after time. Knack doesn’t really make jokes, but the game constantly goes in slow motion to dramatically show how hard he hits the ground every time he jumps. We get it..Knack’s strong! His design also isn’t all that great. He reminds me of Hellboy if Hellboy was made of rock and had an evil looking grin. Knack shows signs of potential like when he gets overconfident or brags, but the sequel will have to give him a lot of development to say the least.
Overall, Knack’s a fun enough game, but it does start to be affected by repetition towards the end of its run. After all, you’ll be using the same attacks on the same enemies for quite a while by the end. Luckily, I did enjoy the gameplay quite a bit, but that’s why it is important to have a lot of different attacks so you can defeat enemies in various ways. The story is decent and it was funny at least so that’s good. The heroes did make a lot of questionable calls throughout though so hopefully they’ll be better in a possible sequel. I recommend this game. Even if you’re not a huge fan of it by the end, it’ll be fun for you to compare it to other titles like Crash and Mario. I haven’t played Crash yet so I can’t really comment on whether or not it beats that title at the moment.