Knack


By: Hadyn Green    On: PlayStation 4
Published: Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 8:00 AM
 
 
 
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Knack follows in the tradition of the PlayStation classic Crash Bandicoot - if the eponymous marsupial was made up of hundreds of individual particles. The game brief reads like a test programme for a graphics card: the protagonist is a collection of small multi-shaped polygons in a cloud that creates the outline of a troll-like character.

In this way, Knack is more a nebulous mass than a solid being. As he collects more relics, his size increases; once he reaches a certain size, though, being hit removes particles - rather than decreasing his size. I first noticed this when, after one battle sequence, I realised that the wounded Knack was missing a large chunk of his leg.

It’s a wonderful, subtle way to show off the power of the new console, especially in a game that seems designed for kids.

The gameplay is fairly simple platformer stuff. Smash stuff to find pick-ups; figure out each baddie’s particular attack move and learn to counter it; jump; jump again; find secret areas; wonder who would design a factory that’s this hard to get through.

At times, the simplicity does get boring. While the bad guys are varied throughout the game, there are really only four different types. And nearly all of the jumps are double jumps. Little things like that do begin to bug you.

But Knack is also full of little things that are wonderful. My favourite part is when Knack expands. Finding a cache of relics does two things: it refills your health (you’ll need to do this often) and it increases your size. But each cache is fairly small (with the exception of some large, story driven ones), so your size increases slowly (almost imperceptibly) as you play. Suddenly, you’ll notice that the baddies who once towered over you are your size and can be killed with one punch - instead of three.

Knack can use different materials (other than the basic relics) from time to time. The glass form of Knack is “Stealth Knack”, while “Abominable Knack” is made with ice and slowly melts in sunshine.

Personally I found big Knack to be more fun than small Knack, but maybe I just like smashing stuff. And Knack can get pretty damn big.

Given Knack’s format the online options aren’t deep, but they are pretty cool. As you progress through the game, there are hidden rooms with chests in them. The chests contain either parts for gadgets or gemstones. Each item you find has a different rarity value (I wasn’t able to tell if you difficulty setting of the game gave you more rare items). When you find a chest, the game gives you the option to take what you found OR what your PSN friends got when they found the same chest.

Thankfully, our own Matthew Codd had been grinding through the levels ahead of me, and had uncovered a lot of useful rare stuff. He did note that if I should “open any [chests] where I’ve found a Diamond Relic take it!” as “farming them is a pain in the ass”.

There is also a local multiplayer mode, where Knack is joined by Robo-Knack. I wasn’t able to play this as the console only came with one controller, but from what I’ve seen it looks like more of the same.

I quite liked Knack, despite it’s repetitive gameplay. The characters in the story (which I haven’t mentioned because it’s fairly simple kid’s movie type stuff) are pretty well done albeit incredibly stereotypical (the smart kid; the grumpy professor; the bad guy with a beard.) Knack himself is a fairly fun character, though his deep resonant voice was odd given it doesn’t change as his size changes.

“Wow that little guy sounds like Barry White!”


The Score

Knack
"The perfect game for kids and adults wanting to smash stuff"
8.0
Great
Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 5 Min

 

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Comments (13)

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hadyngreen
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 8:56 AM Posted by hadyngreen
I've talked with lots of other game reviewers about this and many of them find it boring. I felt that it was a great game for kids (simple controls, easy storyline and predictable bad guys) and the type of platformer that they'll pick up quickly.
 
 
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fifamessi
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 9:36 AM Posted by fifamessi NZGamer.com VIP
Good review, I already have my copy, just waiting for the ps4 now. :D
 
 
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Coddfish
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 9:54 AM Posted by Coddfish NZGamer.com VIP
10 December 2013, 08:56 AM Reply to hadyngreen
I've talked with lots of other game reviewers about this and many of them find it boring. I felt that it was a great game for kids (simple controls, easy storyline and predictable bad guys) and the type of platformer that they'll pick up quickly.
I definitely think its one of those "your mileage may vary" type games, as far as reviews go. I think a lot of the criticisms levelled at Knack are valid, and yet, I'm enjoying it immensely, and I know I'm not alone. It's the kind of game that has gotten a lot of poor review scores, but will find a dedicated niche audience who love it.

I personally just finished it on Hard last night, which was my fourth playthrough of the game (after 3 Easy runs to grind gems and unlock the super powerful Diamond Knack), and am starting my fifth playthrough (Very Hard x_x) today.
 
 
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phantom
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 10:36 AM Posted by phantom NZGamer.com VIP
I'm interested to try it again, but my ~30 minutes with the game was much more inline with the "critical" side of the assessment argument. The fact that you have to double jump to get up small ledges lends the platforming mechanics a painful, almost chore-like feel, and the game otherwise seems laborious and boring. I did like the clever loot / multiplayer integration stuff though. Will check it out once it appears on PS+ I guess!
 
 
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rocketman12
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 10:42 AM Posted by rocketman12 NZGamer.com VIP
This game actually looks rather cool. Even though it got rather low scores on Gamespot and Ign , I would still give it a go.
 
 
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LeftoversNZ
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 11:59 AM Posted by LeftoversNZ NZGamer.com VIP
10 December 2013, 09:54 AM Reply to Coddfish
I definitely think its one of those "your mileage may vary" type games, as far as reviews go. I think a lot of the criticisms levelled at Knack are valid, and yet, I'm enjoying it immensely, and I know I'm not alone. It's the kind of game that has gotten a lot of poor review scores, but will find a dedicated niche audience who love it.

I personally just finished it on Hard last night, which was my fourth playthrough of the game (after 3 Easy runs to grind gems and unlock the super powerful Diamond Knack), and am starting my fifth playthrough (Very Hard x_x) today.
Out of curiosity, how long does it take on average to playthrough?
 
 
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Coddfish
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 12:08 PM Posted by Coddfish NZGamer.com VIP
10 December 2013, 11:59 AM Reply to LeftoversNZ
Out of curiosity, how long does it take on average to playthrough?
First playthrough is around ~8 hours, but you can knock that down to around 4 or 5 with cutscene skipping and generally getting better at the game
 
 
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fatbot
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 6:20 PM Posted by fatbot
Sounds like a great PS+ game to me, but not a game I would pay for at launch prices. I'm guessing it will be on PS+ around March / April next year
 
 
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Sam
On Tuesday 10 Dec 2013 7:49 PM Posted by Sam NZGamer.com VIP
Somewhat in line with what I have found playing it. Definitely got it as one to play with the girlfriend (gaming skills of a child) and a good one to just smash stuff.
 
 
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LeftoversNZ
On Wednesday 11 Dec 2013 9:41 AM Posted by LeftoversNZ NZGamer.com VIP
10 December 2013, 12:08 PM Reply to Coddfish
First playthrough is around ~8 hours, but you can knock that down to around 4 or 5 with cutscene skipping and generally getting better at the game
ah sweet not so bad, with that kind of time i'd be inclined to give it multiple playthroughs.
 
 
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wharekura
On Wednesday 11 Dec 2013 11:24 AM Posted by wharekura
really good review sounds like a fun game
 
 
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kiwibadboy
On Wednesday 11 Dec 2013 9:22 PM Posted by kiwibadboy NZGamer.com VIP
Cheers for the review, might pick it up for my lil sis when I get a PS4 :)
 
 
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Durty Driscoll
On Tuesday 17 Dec 2013 4:45 PM Posted by Durty Driscoll
Yeah, this is destined for PS+
 
 
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