Review: Knack / Developer: SCE Japan Studio / Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan / Platform: Playstation 4 / Release Date: Out Now
Another of the Playstation 4’s launch titles, Knack offers what promised to be a crowd-pleasing combination of platforming, colourful cartoony graphics and punching things. In the surface of things, it would appear to have a simple enough story to follow, a strong visual appeal despite not taxing the new engine and what looked to be a good gimmick. Unfortunately, this was not the Super Mario 64 of the Playstation 4.
In a near future setting, you play the titular Knack, a golem built from ancient relics. When humanity finds the goblin race has gained advanced technology, Knack might be their only means to victory.
Despite Sony’s claims of accessibility, the title combines every cheap game-lengthening tactic you can think of. It features just slightly less hidden, unfair insta-kill traps than the average fan-made Kaizo title. This isn’t helped by the game’s linearity, as it means when the developers throw in a completely hidden, borderline unjumpable spike pit, you will die. These are not the sorts of challenges which can be overcome by skill or learning from previous levels. Nearly all of them will only be learned through repeatedly dying and remembering to avoid whatever killed you the last eight times.
The combat proves to be little better than the platforming, perhaps even worse. Every enemy featured will hit you like a truck, either killing you outright or ripping off a huge chunk of your lifebar. Even at Knack’s maximum size, you will be relentlessly hammered by even the most basic of foes. Often displaying very basic AI and challenges, the enemies are only augmented by the fact they can rip you to bits in seconds. Even the much touted size-changing abilities do little, as the game goes out of its way to rob you of that at every turn, either forcing you into a small corridor where you are obliged to ditch your mass, or removing it in some arbitrary manner.
The game is ultimately extremely hard, but it’s far from challenging. The combat and platforming are both very basic and it’s only the fact the damage is tilted in your enemies' favour that gives the game any punch. Its length is only the result of you having to fight a veritable horde of foes who can kill you in a single attack which you have barely any ability to dodge.
As a fan of the Jak games, this writer wanted to love this game, he really did. However it plays like a cheap, poorly designed PS1 platformer, camera issues and all, and there is little by way of redeeming features beyond the nice aesthetic. Save your money for something better.