Knack 2 Review
If you’ve had the pleasure of playing the original Knack title, you’ll remember it was a charming, underrated experience that was mired by mediocre scores from media, but generally got favorable scores from actual players. Well, it’s 2017 and Knack is back for a second adventure. While not a ton has changed between these two titles, a few years has made Knack 2 a far superior product.
The simplicity of Knack 2 makes this title very accessible to all ages, making the game not only a great experience for myself, but also my seven year old son. While layers of complexity are added as you level up Knack’s skill tree, the basics of Jump, Punch, and Kick are all you will need in order to successfully maneuver the many varied environments you will encounter.
Knack is made up of relic pieces, and depending on the number of relics you find that can add to his body, Knack can grow well above eight feet tall. Knack’s height is always displayed on the HUD, so grab those chests of relicss to make him grow more.
In certain situations, you’ll want to click R1 which will make Knack drop all his ‘parts’ and become Knack Jr., a miniature Knack just over two feet high. In this form, Knack Jr. can explore areas Knack could never reach and this makes a number of puzzles really fun to play through as you swap between Knack and his Jr. version!
In many of these areas, you’ll find boxes containing experience for Knack (towards getting more skill points, and therefore new abilities from the skill tree)! Aside from collecting experience, Knack will also destroy yellow crystals which will fill up his special meter allowing him to perform better and more deadly attacks. When unlocked, these attacks make combat more manageable and much more enjoyable.
Combat is what ultimately makes Knack so much fun. Whether parrying projectiles back into the enemy who fired it, or swapping between Knack and Knack Jr. to avoid those sword swipes, battles might appear similar, but can be played in a multitude of ways. If you experiment with the skill tree and utilize those new abilities, battles can be loads of fun.
Knack is a platformer at its heart, and more than half of your adventure will be preoccupied with jumping from ledge to ledge, trying to avoid swinging saw blades, spikes, and more, and completing environmental, physics based puzzles. None of the platforming elements seem forced; the clever level design makes each experience unique to itself. While puzzle elements will be reused throughout the experience, there is always something new to keep the puzzle concept fresh.
Environmental Highs and Lows
My biggest issue with Knack 2 are the incredible differences in quality between the level and graphic quality. When you jump into the game, the opening sequence takes place in a large city, and while traversing the world is fun, it quickly becomes obvious that the development team heavily reused assets in the city environments, making each area feel very much the same. There is a severe lack of variety that makes playing through these areas a bit of a slog.
That being said, I did find the rural, underdeveloped areas of Knack 2 incredibly exciting to walk through and explore. While assets are definitely reused frequently, there is still a lot more variety when exploring goblin ruins or completing environmental puzzles. The stark difference between these two environments was shocking, but thankfully Sony mostly got it right throughout the rural levels, somewhat excusing the blandness of the cities.
Camera Can Limit the Fun
Thankfully, Knack has a very generous respawn rate, meaning when you die, it’s not likely you will have to complete more than a few seconds of something you’ve already done. This becomes valuable as the camera in Knack 2 can be your greatest enemy. With so many other platforming titles, I’m so use to using the right stick to move my camera around. In Knack 2, there is no ability to rotate the camera on your own, as the right stick is used exclusively for dodging. For more than half the game, it’s not an issue, but when you are forced to walk into a battle blind – knowing full well there is an enemy hurling projectiles at you that, if you could see, you could parry back – you can get really frustrated.
Cooperative play is quick and easy, utilizing a drop-in / drop-out system that makes having a friend join for a few minutes easy and accessible. When playing in cooperative mode, one player will control red Knack, while the other will control his blue counterpart. There are new gameplay elements introduced in cooperative play, including using you partner as a machine gun, and kicking each other into enemies. Its fun to play this way, although the screen itself can get a bit chaotic, the entertainment value is well worth it.
Knack 2 is not without its faults, but the overall experience is one worth playing. For those who felt burned by the original game, go into Knack 2 knowing that a lot of what made the first so bad has been improved here. Once you’ve completed the 10-12 hour story experience, you can revisit the worlds in time attacks and attempt to better your score. It adds a bit of replayability that is welcome, and could extend your Knack adventure north of 20 hours.
Knack 2 is not perfect, but it’s definitely worth a play if you own Playstation 4. We had a blast and we think you will too.