In a world where the resurgent species of Goblins have begun gaining armaments and weaponry beyond their capabilities. They are now taking aggressive steps to reclaim the world that humans once took from them. One clever doctor has an invaluable asset in discovering why the sudden surge in the Goblins activities. That asset is Knack, a creature with mysterious powers who embodies a living consciousness of the relics from a long lost civilisation. These relics are the power source behind today’s technologies but Knack can absorb them into himself to become a much larger being. It’s not long before the humans discover that something far deeper is happening with the goblins.
Knack certainly isn’t the launch game that is pushing the PS4 to its limits. In fact, given the slight fantasy setting that drives the game’s story in terms of the Goblins and ancient relics, Sony Japan have opted for what I would say closely resembles a Disney Pixar take on their games graphical presentation. Don’t let that fool you though, no detail has been spared for Knack, this is a world where every location and item inside that location has been individualized and given the breath of life. Whether it be the tiles on the floor of a castle, the limestone in underground caves, sand particles from a mine or the relics themselves that come together to shape the lead character, Knack, nothing was left without the utmost polish. The accumulation of all the design choices is what makes this game so great. From the cute three foot tall variation of Knack, to the varying colours and quirkiness of the opposing goblins add to the overall wonder of the game. Knack as a character and the game itself has an abundance of heart, soul and charm and this is evident as the environments, objects and characters themselves overflow with uniqueness.
Knack will become a colossal collection of relics gaining heights similar to that of buildings. Right down to his original 3 foot tall stature, which is quite cute and charming but one issue I found, is that no matter what size Knack is his voice remains the same. It is a standard, deep masculine voice, slightly gruff but oozes confidence. Some difference in voices between sizes just would have felt more natural. The remainder of the voice cast is certainly not a strong suit of the game, lacking emotion but it successfully gets the job done at the end of the day.
During Knacks development cycle, it was created with both younger gamers and mature gamers in mind. At one point the developers replicated an oversized controller to emulate what it would be like for a child’s hands to be behind the controller of Knack. From this interesting experiment resulted in one of the simplest yet elegant control schemes I have experienced in years. Given this, the opportunity for remote play makes Knack so much sweeter and works like a breeze, even when tying in with your co-op game.
The difficulty however, I felt was not directed at children. Completing this game on the normal difficultly setting I still found instances that required some finesse and tactic to overcome my adversaries. This doesn’t matter though, if the going gets too tough there is always the option of utilizing the drop in/drop out co-op mode, which is unfortunately restricted to local users. None the less a full adventure can be had for two players from beginning to end, without any major hiccups or difficulties although player two may sometimes get frustrated at the fixed camera set on player one.
Your partner alongside Knack is a robot that also gains and loses size as required but has a handy trait of spawning almost instantly after death. This makes him the perfect candidate to lead the charge in times of difficult battles or when you are low on health, which can be a huge benefit when you find yourself struggling to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. Unfortunately though for your co-op partner, it seems even when logged in as a PS4 user and on PSN they are ineligible to achieve trophies.
There are lots of hidden rooms containing artefacts and stones to be discovered. Artefacts come in pieces and once all pieces are collected they form tools such as combo hit meter, time dilator to slow things down in combat or the relic detector which alerts you to nearby relics. Stones that are found combine to give knack different features like skills and appearances for future play throughs. All hidden rooms remain the same but the contents they contain differ. what is the most interesting concept behind the hidden artefacts is that, if a member of your PSN friends list has visited the same room, you can view what they collected from that chest. If you prefer their treasure rather than your original prize, you are more than welcome to take it. (so by all means if you are looking to complete your collections add my PSN grizzly_bear11 to your PSN and I hope my findings can help you). T
his concept is an intriguing form of social integration and I hope to see more of it. Although it should be noted that not all artefacts can be found in the console game. The remaining pieces can be obtained by playing the Knack’s Adventure smart phone app, which is basically a tile slide and matching game with Knack’s relics as the tiles. Simply sign in with your PSN to initiate the connection and collect your prizes.
As the game requires, you will see yourself grow from the size of a building right down to a three feet tall miniature. These changes are predetermined for the progression of the game, but I would have loved to have seen some choice involved. Letting the player decide how to overcome the pending obstacles would have added a whole lot more depth to the game. Becoming a gigantic wrecking ball of relics to accomplish your goal or simply staying as a tiny critter with more elegance or stealth, could perhaps become a feature for a future entry in the series.
One major concern I stumbled upon, is that I felt that the story wasn’t explained as clear as it should’ve been. The developers knew what they were trying to tell and accomplish, but I don’t think they fully expanded and explained their ideas.
Sony Computer Entertainment of America responded to the mixed reviews of Knack by stating that “it was intentionally designed to be simple and accessible and to show that the PlayStation 4 isn’t all about shooters”. I think this is an excellent and completely accurate statement. Knack delivers perfectly on this regard, with its easily accessible gameplay, simple control layout and the ease of the drop in/out co-op. It may not be the most technically refined game but its charm and heart easily outweighs those flaws, which is a fact that I think was unfortunately missed by a lot of people. With his cute statue and surrounded by a world full of charm, Knack will certainly keep you coming back time and time again.