Knack 2 – Review
Imagine a Dreamworks movie where you have full control over the main character. You control their actions, you hold their life in your hand. Sure the story is already set no matter what you do, but you have the opportunity to manoeuvre around a beautifully put together world filled with cute and quirky characters. That’s what Knack 2 is; a Dreamworks movie you get to control. It looks great, it plays well and considering a lot of people got it for free, what more can you ask for?
Upon release Knack 2 encountered an unfortunate bug (or genius marketing ploy) that saw it going up on the PSN for free, instead of its usual price of $30. A lot of people grabbed this game for free, which usually means a stack of free word of mouth advertising. It also means no profits but considering how hesitant everybody was about this sequel due to the flop of the first game, free publicity and marketing can’t go astray.
Knack 2 follows the story on from the first game. Knack and his trust buddy Lucas had saved the world and for many years lived in pleasant peace within the city of New Haven. But something evil has hit the city, and once more it’s up to Knack to punch the bad guys until safety reigns once more. The first level opens with Lucas ominously telling the audience he can’t help but feel that the oncoming terror is all his fault, and ends on a cliffhanger that leaves Knack’s life uncertain. You immediately want to know what’s going to happen but are taken back six months to get the full story- inspiring you to work through it to see Knack’s fate.
This game plays like many other action platformers, but its point of difference is the unique growth system Knack uses to overcome obstacles and puzzles. At any point in the game you have the ability to shrink down to small Knack to squeeze into tight places and traverse obstacles, or grow into big Knack and obliterate things in your path. Using this system properly will not only get you through the levels easily but also enable you to find the hidden treasures scattered throughout. Just knowing that there are treasures to collect in each level made me want to explore every nook and cranny because I’m a crazy completionist, but it’s worth doing even if you’re a normal person. Treasures contain gadget pieces which can be put together to create awesome upgrades you can use to pulverise the bad guys. And who doesn’t love a good pulverising!?
The growth system is also seen in the depiction of your health. Knack’s HP is directly relevant to his size- the bigger he is, the stronger he is. As you take damage you shrink, and if you lose all your height you get squashed like a bug and you die. Collecting relics (found scattered around the levels in boxes and the like) can replenish this, and there are other means of saving health like shields and upgrades as well which will keep you alive. Though getting hit by enemies on purpose isn’t exactly ideal, there’s something cool about watching them blow pieces off you as you disintegrate into nothing. Equally cool is collecting those pieces back, growing twice their size and stomping them into a paste, so 10/10 do recommend bringing yourself to the brink of death at least once.
A feature not seen in many platformers is the talent tree system, which works similarly to those found in RPG games. As you collect points you can stick them into various skills of the talent tree to make Knack faster, stronger and tougher. At first you don’t get a lot of choice in where you put your points, but once you unlock the basic skills there’s a lot more customisation available, to turn Knack into the killing machine of your dreams!
Another thing I love about this game is the drop in co-op mode. At any point your friends can drop in and out of the game seamlessly and join your adventure. If your friends are anything like mine however, they will often jump to their deaths or get you shot by the enemies. Luckily for me, the game doesn’t punish you for dying, it just drops you back to where you were so you can start over. This small yet mighty feature saved me a lot of frustration. I am not the most patient person (not a new fact to anybody who knows me) and I get frustrated a lot and rage easily. But even when I misjudged a jump or had my ass handed to me by a boss, I didn’t get angry because I knew I didn’t have to redo a tonne of content. The difficulty in Knack comes from the game itself, not in the fear of death, which I found really refreshing.
Knack 2 is an action platformer with just enough features to make it different from others in the same vein. It’s fun, albeit not addictively, but enough that it is worth the price tag, and being able to play with your mates brings it into a whole new realm of enjoyable. It’s clear that Sony took on board the criticisms they received for the first title and went to work on fixing them in this game, making it feel polished, put together and ultimately, just an all-around pretty good gaming experience.