Knack – Review

Image via playstation.com

Get The Knack, just not this Knack.

In a world of humans, goblins, and ancient treasure, Knack is on the human’s side. He himself is a relic found in a cave and brought to life by a scientist named Dr. Vargas. They are working together to fight the goblins who have turned their hostilities towards the humans after fighting each other for years. In this quest they find a traitor in their midst. Turns out that this person is looking to gain ultimate power for himself. Knack is now tasked with stopping this threat and saving the world.

It is with great reservation that I use the word bad to describe a game, or much else for that matter. Yet I find that that is the only way I can describe this game… bad. That term is harsh and I dislike using it because I know people worked very hard on this and are very proud of their contributions. What earns this game the moniker is the sum total of all the parts and the overall product, not any individual contribution thereof.

What little of this game that deserves praise is in the graphics. Even for an early PlayStation 4 game it looks very good. The art and colors are vibrant and inviting. The character models are cartoony but it works for the game’s aesthetic. The stand out is the particle effects used through out the game. Whether it be Knack picking up relics or an enemy turning to vapor it does it with style and detail. Unfortunately, this is where the positives end for this game.

Almost from the very beginning the game goes wrong. Knack feels like it should be a care-free good-time kind of a game but it has issues that jar the player away from that tone. Knack himself the most evident. He is somewhat grotesque and revolting. This only gets more exaggerated when he takes on his larger forms. For what should be an inviting, friendly voice there is instead a growling voice that can only be compared to the main bad guy in the original Highlander film. This is a shame because all of the other characters fit the part of the set but that doesn’t make up for the story itself.

Ah, the story. You start against goblins, then against humans, then against ancient warriors and the jumps between those moments are anything but fluid. You’ll criss-cross the world for parts of the adventure for no other purpose than to change environments. If you bear down into the details you’ll find nuances of things that just don’t fit together that will give you times where you scratch your head wondering if you missed something. Counter that with plots lines that are so telegraphed that it takes away the illusion that anything else could happen.

The game would be more enjoyable if it were fun to play. The mechanics and structure of the game work against this every happening, however. Knack has a basic jump, attack and jump-attack but no ranged attack. The closest you have a ranged attack is the jump-attack but it is substantially less power full than the basic attack. Essentially this forces you to use brawler methods in order to quickly dispatch enemies. Even when you get to play as Knack in his larger forms it is not much better. Sure you are more powerful but then they only ramp up the antics that the enemies can use against you. Then when you are having some fun as larger Knack they manufacture some reason to take it away from you. Such as when an elevator needs activated Knack has to sacrifice the relics he is powering himself with.

A fundamental problem of this game is its lack of identity. Not the characters within the game but rather what kind of game it is. There is a strange mix of game types ranging from adventure game to brawler to puzzle to platformer. All these types are mixed up in an ineffective manner and on top of that the game doesn’t seem to do any one of them very well. While playing through it felt as if though the creators wanted to bring back old mechanics of games but didn’t know how to do it properly. One of the bad things they incorporated was camera and perspective changes. Not that these can’t used but they were overly used and poorly so. There were times when they would change just so the character could make a turn, ruining the flow of play.

Games should be fun and rewarding, this game is not. The issues with not only the set of controls but the flow of controls will leave the player frustrated. Many times you’ll feel that you perfectly executed a maneuver only to have it end in failure. This comes at a high cost as there is no manual save feature and the auto-save are quite unforgiving setting you back large treks for your failure. Even on easy mode(which I played) there is an alarming number of ways to die instantly with one hit. Those looking to play casually or with youthful players will want to pass on this title.

It’s bad and I feel bad about calling it bad. There have been $5 dollar investments that I enjoyed more, for example Bulletstorm. Having played this game leaves me to wonder how Sony can justify a sequel.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

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2 thoughts on “Knack – Review

  1. I remember this game getting middling reception when it came out. I guess enough people still liked it to greenlight a sequel. Hopefully it addresses all of the complaints people had with this one.

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