Game Guys review - Knack

11:22 PM, Nov 15, 2013   |    comments
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  • 'Knack', a video game for PlayStation 4.
  • 'Knack', a video game for PlayStation 4.

When you think of video game consoles it should come as little surprise that you may also think of their official or defacto mascots.  Nintendo has Mario, SEGA had/has Sonic the Hedgehog, and Xbox: Master Chief.  But when it comes to PlayStation, no one character comes to mind other than Crash Bandicoot: the abandoned face of the original PlayStation console from more than a decade ago.

Since then, Sony hasn't had much of a knack for finding that one family-friendly character with which to identify its consoles.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons so much effort went behind the in-house developed adventure-platformer Knack.  Suitably enough, some of those behind the original Crash Bandicoot games were also behind this title.  Unfortunately, unlike the original PS' furry mascot, the artifact-assembled Knack might as well be headed for recycling.

The game takes place in a world where humans and goblins live in disharmony with one another.  With the growing threat goblin attacks against human cities and interests, the brilliant Dr. Vargas creates the game's protagonist Knack out of ancient relics from a civilization so long forgotten they might as well be the Thran.

The yard-tall Knack punches and pounces upon his enemies, growing stronger and larger as he absorbs more relics into his body as he discovers them across the game's levels.  There's even a fun LEGO-like sound effect that plays each time this happens.

For those wanting more than just the limited basic attacks, Knack can also collect power from smashing sunstones to fuel more powerful moves such as a nifty whirlwind move and an all-targeting ranged attack.  Later in the game he can also turn to ice or become crystallized and go stealth.

Stashed here and there throughout the game's levels are secret areas with collectibles hidden inside.  Once all the parts for each collectible is found, they grant Knack with even greater and more diverse powers.  What's more, these parts can be exchanged with other players to add a social-lite element into the mix.

Knack is strong, yet fragile.  It takes but a few hits to make the game's hero literally fall to pieces.  Being felled in battle doesn't mean too much, however, as players simply start at the most previous checkpoint (there are plenty) to try again.  While this initially feels like the game is offering a nice challenge - even on normal difficulty - it quickly becomes a joke thanks to there being no limit to how many times Knack can be knocked out.  No lives to lose means there's nothing really at stake for the player, making the game feel like a near pointless play.

Perhaps that's part of the problem.  The game never really gets all that exciting, instead skating by as being consistently mildly amusing.  Were there a few high points to be had or (at the very least) some old-school limited on lives and continues, the "ho hum" feeling players will experience would be minimized.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.

While the game is obviously one of quality with Pixar-like visuals to boot, it's little more than an okay option that should excite very few.  It's fully family friendly, which is a plus, and parents should feel at ease with their children playing this PS4-exclusive title as opposed to, say, Killzone: Shadow Fall.  Knack, however, lacks the punch to make either it or its protagonist last much beyond the game's console's launch.

18/25 21/25 13/25 15/25 24/25 78/100

Version tested: PS4

(SCEA supplied a copy of this game for review.)

See how what our review scores mean and how the math adds up.


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