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Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Knack - A Trip Down Memory Lane

Knack is one of the very few Playstation 4 exclusive launch titles. It's a game marketed for children, has no headshots, and certainly no online multiplayer full of 12-year old twats screaming about how they banged your mother.

No, Knack is not a mainstream game. It's not a title that everyone is going to love (though they should). It's also unfortunately the exact type of game that critics are going to tear apart. Whether it's the lack of character development, repetition of gameplay, or whatever other bullshit you can think of, Knack has certainly taken a hit in the press.

What everyone is missing however is simple. Knack isn't meant to be anything other than a fun throwback to the games of yesteryear. It's not supposed to be deep. There isn't supposed to be any character development. There are no forums dedicated to its ludonarrative dissonance. It's a game in the purest form, meant for nothing else other than pleasure.

And I had a smile from ear to ear every time I turned it on.

So what is Knack exactly? It's a fixed camera platformer much like what we've seen in earlier Playstation titles such as Crash Bandicoot. You romp around the world as Knack, a particle-based robot who has the ability to grow and learn abilities by absorbing relics.

It's up to Knack to stop the goblin invasion and save the world. Which wouldn't be a problem if the power of the ancient relics wasn't simultaneously being used for evil.

The story is told through Pixar-esque cinematics that truly look 'next gen'. Corners are beautifully rounded and movement is the same. Every time Knack absorbs relics and grows in size I am utterly amazed at the PS4's graphical power. There are hundreds of polygons at work in every moment and not one time did I encounter framerate issues. Every punch, every jump dive, every special power is presented in vivid detail.

Then there's the world itself. Yes, Knack is for the most part a 'Point-A to Point-B' adventure. As I mentioned earlier it's a throwback to the classic Playstation platformer. It is however still beautiful and full of little secrets just begging to be found. By breaking certain walls you'll find treasure chests filled with pieces to better equip Knack. Find them all and you'll gain powerful abilities to help you through your adventure.

It's a great feeling to find that final piece and witness Knack grow in strength.

Knack should take you anywhere from 12-20 hours depending on whether you rush through the campaign or stop to take in the scenery. While it may seem like a game for children, don't be fooled - it's a fairly unforgiving title. Just when you think you can let your guard down, Knack tests your skill by throwing another enemy type your way. It will take some time to learn all your moves but once you do you'll be tearing through goblins like it's your job.

With all that said I can't recommend Knack to everyone. The story and pace can be a bit slow at times. It can also be very difficult, setting you back a good distance thanks to a poor checkpoint system. It's certainly not a perfect game but it is a great entry in a new story and a great step in the right direction.

If you're the type of person who tends to be a cynical blowhard, incapable of finding entertainment in anything without guns then please stay away. If however you enjoy childlike stories and are looking for a trip down memory lane, Knack won't leave you disappointed.

Scores are out of 100 and are meant to be taken very seriously.

Keep an eye on my Twitch stream. I will be streaming live all week. If you would like to see Knack in action please let me know!
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