Knack Review by GameTrailersWarning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Knack seems much longer than it actually is. As you fight the same enemies again and again, you’ll beg for Knack to excite you in some way, in any way, but it never does. You’ll want the levels to open up, you’ll want the action to get more involved, and you’ll want the secrets to stop being so obvious, and yet the game remains the same. As a flagship title for a new console, Knack is surprisingly mediocre.
Created by a renowned inventor for the purpose of fending off invading goblins, Knack, the titular golden hero, is composed of hundreds of tiny relics. These relics float close to one another rather than form a singular mass, and when Knack gets hit, chunks of him fly off. When Knack dies, he impressively collapses into innumerable bits that scatter across the floor.
Just as easily as they get knocked out of him, Knack can also absorb additional relics, causing him to grow in strength and durability. Throughout each of the game’s 13 chapters, you’ll play as Knack in a variety of sizes. As little Knack, it’s easy to lose your life in one shot. To compensate, the game typically only has you fight two or three enemies while you’re short and scrawny. After accumulating enough relics, Knack becomes a giant, and enemies that previously took several hits crumble after a single punch.
But even giant Knack is surprisingly fragile, and each blow generally takes a large portion of life. For a game that looks like a rejected Saturday morning cartoon, the game isn’t very forgiving and you die a lot. Get used to repeating sections constantly.
If you get fed up with a particular situation, you can use a super move, which typically kills every enemy in the area and allows you to move forward hassle-free. It’s convenient, but it practically feels like cheating. Instead of providing you with a helpful boost, super moves amount to little more than a “skip” button, and you’ll hardly feel like you did anything at all.
Other than super moves, Knack has few ways to combat his vulnerability. His dodge, your main defensive tool, is sluggish. It never moves as quickly as you want it to, which is a huge problem when you need a quick reaction to save your life. Jumping is a more effective way to avoid getting wrecked since enemies tend to favor horizontally-oriented assaults.
When it comes to dealing damage, Knack is equally limited. You can throw out a basic 3-punch combo or perform an air strike where Knack curls into a ball and hurls forward. The second option is safer, since enemies have a harder time finding their mark when you’re airborne, but it’s extremely weak. For the most part, you don’t even need to bother with it because the AI is so predictable. Baddies wielding swords, for instance, like to slash twice before pausing, so it isn’t tough figuring out when you need swing for their faces. Nothing seems to flow together and every enemy pattern is similarly simple to solve, so the constant fights quickly become a drag.
At least you can get through the game faster with a friend. Drop-in, drop-out co-op lets a buddy assume the role of Robo Knack. He isn’t contextualized in the story in any way, but he’s useful nonetheless. Unlike his non-mechanical twin, Robo Knack will simply reappear after a few seconds if he’s knocked to bits. Having someone else around who can only positively affect your progress greatly reduces the amount of time you spend repeating the same areas, alleviating some of the tedium.
Yet even the best of pals can’t fix Knack’s intrusive cutscenes, which highlight the most trivial things. Why does anyone need to watch Knack jump off a ledge? Why can’t you just jump off the ledge yourself? These scenes only last a few seconds, but they pull you out of the game for seemingly no reason at all. It makes the world appear so stitched together. You run from corridor to corridor, fight a few enemies, and then pointlessly watch Knack perform the most rudimentary actions.
You’d think the presence of numerous secrets -- which include pieces for upgrades, health, or energy for super moves -- would make the environments a little more exciting, but they only highlight how artificial the game feels. You just look for a portion of the wall that is cracked or otherwise suspect, and then punch to uncover whatever is hiding behind it. Requiring almost no thought whatsoever, hunting for secrets amounts to nothing more than another monotonous task.
With the way it looks and how simple it is, it’s easy to think Knack is a game for kids. And while that may be the intent, it doesn’t make Knack any less dull. Whether you’re five or 25, Knack is boring throughout its 10-hour duration. If you’re looking for something to introduce you to the PlayStation 4, there are far better options than Knack.
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4.
Written by Ben Moore.