Knack may be the underappreciated hero of the PlayStation 4 launch. At the time of its release, fans were looking for a game that truly put its new hardware to good use – and immediately shunned the game for trying to get just "another platforming knock-off". And it's true, Knack was uninspired in some areas. But I didn't think it was nearly as bad as some people were claiming it to be – and I knew that Mark Cerny and his team had something to build upon.
Fast forward three years later, and the team announced the forthcoming Knack 2 for PlayStation 4, for release in 2017. Half the crowd loved the notion of it, while the other half laughed it off, saying, "C'mon, do we really need a sequel to Knack?" And upon closer observation, I say yes, if only because this is a good franchise with the opportunity to be great.
And great it truly is. After playing through it for several hours both alone and with a friend, I can confidently say that Knack 2 is one of the year's most surprising sequels. It obviously won't set the tone for shaking up the franchise like, say, Call of Duty 4 did long ago, but it builds upon a strong foundation and gives us an adventure that's well worth playing. It's as if Cerny and his team listened to criticism and brought everything that gamers wanted this time around – and that's worth giving a thumbs up to.
The game's storyline may not be the best out there, as you're simply called upon to save the world with your shape-shifting hero, who can break apart into a smaller character using a number of pieces, only to build himself back up again when it comes to bashing larger enemies to pieces. But it serves as a good backbone for the action that comes into play, which involves not only fighting, but also a great deal of platforming, as you'll consistently deal with ever-changing levels that force you to adapt and think, lest you want to be broken apart and eventually become nothing.
Improvement In Every Aspect Of Design
Like good PlayStation platforming games of the past, Knack 2 thrives on its design. Not only is the platforming a lot of fun and filled with challenges (especially on hard difficulty), but the puzzles are very well put together and require you to put in a little more thought. It doesn't overload on them, either, so you can get right back to platforming and beating up enemies.
Speaking of which, the combat system is greatly improved. It was a lot more fun beating up baddies this time around, thanks to a much more adaptive play style that opens up new moves, including some sweet new techniques that come in handy against tougher opponents.
That said, the only minor setback here is the QTE sequence count. They're not as heavy as you might think, but I can't help but think Cerny and company could've found a way to implement these into actual gameplay, instead of making you press a button simply to get things done. It's certainly not the end of the world, though, and finishing these sequences in proper order and finishing what you started is still fun to watch. For instance, with the opening wrecking ball sequence – it's more entertaining than I thought it'd be.
It's pretty amazing what opens up in Knack 2 after you finish it, as it loads plenty of replay value into the game. You'll earn New Game+, a staple with most games these days with increased difficulty and more challenges, as well as a Coliseum Attack mode (where you take on waves of enemies), a Time Attack mode (beating stages in the fastest time possible) and a chapter select. There are also hidden goodies that can help you shape yourself into a bigger, better Knack, if you take the time to track them down. I enjoyed the many challenges as well, which can reap you even more rewards (and Trophies!) if you step up to take them on.prevnext
Bring A Friend -- No, Really
Not to mention the fact that hard difficulty – and very hard for that matter – lives up to its name. In games like this, some developers play it soft for kids to have a good time, but once you step up to these particular levels, I assure you, you'll have a fight on your hands. Kudos to Cerny and company for not "taking it easy" in this department.
Also, I enjoyed how much more thorough co-op was this time around. It was included in the first game, but here, it feels much more complete, as a second partner can join in and help you get through sections. What's more, you can team up for certain attacks and make more effective techniques come to light. I was really surprised how great this game is to play with a friend.
As for the presentation, it's not really leaps and bounds over the first game, but it doesn't need to be. Like I said, the level design is more elaborate and well-balanced, but other than that, most of the animations and designs are the same. I still think the humans look a little too soft for their own good, but they fit into Knack's world, so that's probably what's most important. The big guy (little guy?) himself is a charmer, too, with a friendliness that makes him fit right in with Sony's elite. In fact, if a PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale sequel ever comes around, I want him front and center. Just to smack around Kratos.
The dialogue is pretty good – hardly standout, but not laughable either – and the music isn't bad, serving as pleasant background noise for what's happening. So that department's pretty well covered too, if not above and beyond.prevnext
One Of The Most Surprising Sequels Of 2017 Thus Far
Oh, last thing – the game is only $40. That's a very reasonable deal, and a smart move on Sony's part, since most people may complain, "But this isn't worth $60!" The truth is, it is, but $40 makes it even more of a steal.
Despite the familiar storyline and presentation, Knack 2 is a terrific improvement upon the original. The gameplay has greatly expanded here, to the point that the game feels like it's more fun to play than ever before. The co-op factor has been boosted significantly, so that there's importance to bringing a friend into the fold. And the unlockables and extra challenge levels will make this a mounting task to even the greatest of platforming pros – and yes, that's including you nuts that went all out to defeat Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy 100 percent.
Kudos to Mark Cerny and company for proving the skeptics wrong and making Knack 2 a sequel that stands heads and shoulders over the original. And, yes, it leaves me wanting a Knack 3. Laugh all you want.0comments
RATING: Four out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.prev