Knack is back to save the day in the sequel to the PlayStation 4 launch title. Find out if we liked this game better than the first one in our Knack II Review.
|Release Date||September 5, 2017|
|Developer||SIE Japan Studio|
|ESRB Rating||Everyone 10+|
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Knack is an interesting series from PlayStation. The first Knack was a really innovative game that probably should have done better than it did, yet it fell pretty flat for most people. I really didn’t expect SIE Japan Studio to go back to the series after it performed so poorly and yet here we are 4 years later with Knack II. I’m glad they did because this game a vast improvement over the first game.
Knack II is a pretty simple game at heart. Knack, for those who don’t know, is a tiny creature made of relics. Knack’s special ability is that he can grow from a tiny 2-foot tall creature to one that can become over 30-feet tall. It’s a cool concept that I don’t recall seeing in any other game and the way it’s implemented is fantastic. The smaller version of Knack does more of the platforming and finding secrets while the larger Knack does some light platforming and most of the fighting. I liked the way that switching back and forth broke up the action and gave me different things to do.
It should be noted that Knack II has many more sequences where you have to switch between big Knack and small Knack. There are moments when you have to hit R1 or be cut in half by a saw or hit R1 to burst through a bunch of scenery to get to the next area. Both sizes of Knack certainly have their own sections, but small Knack felt a lot more useful in this game than I remember him being in the last game. I found myself enjoying the time I played with both versions which is more than I can say about the original Knack.
As far as platforming goes, this game is pretty standard. There are moving platforms, traps (like saws and lasers), steam vents, fire, etc. It’s pretty easy stuff and I can’t remember a single instance where I was frustrated with a jump or anything like that. If you do happen to fall to your death, the checkpoints are more than generous (you’re even able to grab the teleporter after finding the parts to teleport you back to the ledge you fell off of). Puzzles are pretty simple as well, although there were a few moments where I had to think about things a little bit. You’re generally shifting blocks around, weighing down pressure sensitive switches, bouncing lasers off mirrors, or a combination of them. The puzzles were pretty well-designed and I thought there were tough enough to provide a bit of a challenge while keeping it accessible for kids.
Knack’s different types of armour have been carried over from the last game with ice, metal, and iron shells available in certain spots of the game. I was disappointed that these elemental powers weren’t used more frequently and expanded upon with more elements, but the ones that are there are pretty fun in action. Ice Knack can even freeze enemies and lock gears in place. If you shift back to small Knack from any of these elements you’ll leave behind a statue. This statue can be used to weigh down switches to solve puzzles. Stealth Knack even makes a return and makes him invisible and able to pass through lasers without being hurt. It’s a good way to add a wrinkle to the puzzles in different parts of the game and I really enjoyed these sections.
Combat in Knack II is one of my favourite parts of the game. It’s a brawler by most people’s standards and it’s a solid experience. Combat encounters rely on many different tactics to take care of the different types of enemies. Electrical enemies require you to disable them before you can actually hit them, projectiles can be parried, shields can be broken with a heavy attack, the overhead whip can hit an enemy from farther away, and groups of small enemies can be taken out with a body slam. You can even tie up enemies later in the game among many other skills that can be purchased with points. Knack has so many tools at his disposal that the combat never feels dull.
One of the bright spots of Knack II has to be the co-op mode. You can play through the whole game with another person and there are some nice perks to doing so. Having 2 Knacks on screen gives players the ability to kick the other player into enemies, set off explosions by one player body slamming the other, and punching relics off the other player to shoot them at enemies. Admittedly, combat is really the only place that co-op makes a difference as platforming doesn’t really change in any big way. The platforming sequences only require one player to make it to the end while the other player warps to their position upon completion, though, so it’s not too bad.
I felt that Knack II looked pretty good for the type of game it’s trying to portray. The levels, enemies, and characters are all vibrant and full of life. It’s not the best looking game ever made, but it fits the personality of this game perfectly. I especially liked the quick-time sequences that were full of action and great camera cuts. These QT sequences popped up here and there during the game and ,while I don’t normally like them, they were implemented well here.
One area that is a bit lacking in Knack II is the story itself. It’s a suitable story for this type of game featuring High Goblins and a number of humourous little sequences, but it didn’t invest me enough to care how the story ended. The characters are relatively cookie-cutter types and as good as the actual gameplay is, the characters and story around it just don’t live up to it. Couple that with the fact that your human companions seem to follow you even though it took Knack 5 minutes of platforming to get to where he is and the barriers that magically disappear when you defeat all enemies in an area and there’s definitely room for improvement.
Knack II is a huge improvement over the first game. I enjoyed the 12 or so hours it took to complete the game and I don’t remember a single instance of frustration. This is a game people of any age can play and enjoy. The fact that you can play through the entire story with a friend makes this game a must-buy to me. The story itself isn’t the best, but the gameplay more than made up for it and I don’t think there are many people that wouldn’t enjoy this game. I’d recommend this one to everyone.
*A copy of this game was provided by PlayStation to FYIG for review purposes*