Monday, November 18, 2013

Knack PS4 Review

What a weekend! I got my PS4 - and luckily haven't had any trouble with it. I keep knocking on wood each time I turn it on, but I'm hoping I'm in the clear. No console launch is without its hiccups, and I understand that I took a risk in being an early adopter. Everything has gone very smoothly for me so far though.

I'll have a full on PS4 review after I've used it a bit longer. I could rush something right now, but I'd like to get more familiar with the features and UI before making any bold statements about it. I just finished Knack, and I'm going to be starting Killzone soon. I played a little bit of some PSN titles as well, but mostly wanted to finish up Knack so I could write a review.

Knack was a very fun game, I'd like to get that out there immediately. Of course anyone can find some faults with a fine tooth comb - even within the best titles of all time. However, taken on the surface, Knack was very fun and is worth your time.

Knack takes place in a futuristic world where everything is powered by "relics" and "sun stones". There are two main races living on the earth - Goblins and Humans. Of course they don't get along, and I was surprised that the game actually didn't firmly take sides and make a solid good vs evil type game. Both sides have done wrong in this world, and you just happen to be on the human side.

Long story short, the Goblins are getting very advanced weapons, and are stealing relics and sun stones from the humans. The main character, Knack, seeks to stop this theft and fights under the direction of his creator. Knack is a living being made up of the same relics that power the human world. The more relics he finds, the bigger and stronger he gets.

I don't want to spoil too much about the game, so I'm going to leave it simplified to that. The gameplay is fun, and its a mutt made up of some peoples favorite games. The first comparison that comes to mind is Ratchet and Clank. The robot enemies and relic collection feels a lot like that series. The actual gameplay however, is akin to the God Of War series...a lot of button mashing. However, it is severely lacking in combos. You more or less get 3 options - attack, dodge, and "super attack". It does grow a bit repetitive in that sense, but the enemies are tough and relatively diverse. If you combine that with Knacks various temporary upgrades, you get a game that continues to feel fresh despite its repetitive input style. It also reminded me a touch of Katamari (in that you grow larger and can do progressively different things with your size) as well as just a bit of Crash Bandicoot.

The environments are rich in color and very vibrant. Most every level takes place somewhere significantly different, so the scenery continues to change throughout the game. Everything looks to me very Pixarish, which is a good thing. The animation is smooth, and everything looks very good. I'm interested to see how this game will age.

The voice acting and writing for the game was kinda underwhelming however. The concept is cool enough, and has a lot of room to build upon, but Knack and his buddies just fall a bit flat. They're either very cliche (which can be fun if done correctly) or just unimpressive and unmemorable. Knack needs more personality than he has. I almost feel like it could have been better if he had remained silent throughout the game. The writing doesn't go so far as to be embarrassingly bad, but it just really doesn't stand out. Fortunately the gameplay more than makes up for a sub-par story, and leaves less room for error in any potential sequels they decide to make.

Knack is upgradeable through various secret treasures hidden throughout the game. I didn't find enough parts to upgrade until almost the very end of my playthrough. His upgrades are significant ones too - things you'll find yourself wishing you had access to all along. I don't mind developers making players strive to find items, but a quicker succession of them -- or even the ability to choose which piece you'd like (RPG style) would have been far more preferable. If you have friends with Knack, you can see what they found in a specific chest and choose their upgrade OR the one you found, but I didn't know this (or have any friends playing Knack) until I was almost through with the game.

Although somewhat underwhelming, it is a fun little launch title that is getting brushed off far too quickly. I've read a lot of negative reviews for Knack, and I don't believe they are treating the game fairly. I purchased it for $40, not the full $60, and I feel it was a value well worth what I paid for it. I find a lot of people are waiting for a price drop. I just hope they actually drop it before there is too large of a selection for anyone to remember Knack.

All in all, if you're getting a PS4 early and are waiting for something in between now and Watch Dogs or inFamous, check out Knack. It'll provide you with some entertainment, and serves as a decent throwback to some old favorites. It isn't a perfect game by any measure, but it doesn't deserve the reputation its getting stuck with.

Plus, the final boss looks pretty gnarly. (obvious spoilers here...clickers beware).

I'd give Knack a 7/10.

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Also, here is a sampling of one level from chapter 10 in a video, for those interested :] This is my first video capture with the PS4 - so please check it out (and subscribe for more in the future!)

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