Sony's new throwback title Knack has been released as a launch title for the Playstation 4! But is it worth your money? 411's Gavin Napier checks in with his full review!
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE Japan
Genre: Beat 'em up/platformer
Rating: E for Everyone
Knack is a prototypical launch game. Everything about it screams "easily accessible launch title," and that's a big reason the game succeeds. It isn't overly ambitious, it isn't groundbreaking, it isn't pushing limits of a system, and so there's not a whole lot that can go wrong. It's safe in more ways than one.
Sony brought in Mark Cerny to assist with Knack, and that was the first indication that they would be playing it safe here. Cerny has been involved in literally dozens enduring and quality games across multiple franchises. Among them are Sonic the Hedgehog, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Killzone, God of War, and of course Marble Madness. Of this group, Knack reminds me most of Sonic. It certainly doesn't play as fast as Sonic, and I'm not sure that the title character will become an icon like the little blue hedgehog. What Knack does, though, is play very smoothly.
Knack goes against the grain of what video games have become in that it doesn't embrace the "bigger, faster, louder, more complicated" theory of gaming. The art, as you can see, is very stylized. There's not an inordinate amount of detail that goes into every character in an effort to bridge the uncanny valley. The characters look cartoonish, and it's by design. The colors are rich, the panoramic scenes are still very pretty, and I'm sure if you looked at the game running on a PS3 compared to the PS4 you'd see a world of differences. Still, after investing multiple hours into the game, I haven't seen a graphical hiccup or glitch yet.
The game plays like a basic beat 'em up with elements of platforming thrown in. It will never be confused with either Double Dragon or Mega Man, but there are elements of each present and accounted for. You can identify attack patterns with enemies pretty quickly, but identifying and avoiding are two different things. The gameplay isn't terribly deep but it remains fun. If you sit down and play Knack you won't be overwhelmed by epic scenery or story but I have a hunch you'll quickly be sucked into the "just one more level" trap like you once were on the NES or SNES.
The sound isn't overwhelming but the voice acting is very good. The plot is pretty straightforward with defined bad guys and a linear plot progression. You'll find plenty of secret items along the way, though, and the game avoids feeling repetitive by mixing up the enemies. When I reviewed Killzone: Shadow Fall, I was kind of hard on it because I was expecting more. Knack is the exact opposite. I expected less and was rewarded with a game that's still pretty, is entertaining, and that there's nothing to nitpick about. If you have children, this game will be a great way to introduce them to the PS4. As an adult, you should be able to pick up Knack and enjoy the closest thing to an old-school game as you'll find in 2013.
Stylized instead of photo-realistic, but suited to the atmosphere of the game.
The gameplay isn't deep, but everything works like it should.
The music is forgettable but the voice acting is quality.
This score is probably higher with a younger demographic.
An easily accessible, throwback game that's appropriate for family enjoyment.