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Game Reviewed: Knack
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Reviewer: Anthony Livoti
Category: Platformer, Beat Em Up
ESRB Rating: E 10+
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Knack is an original story created by developers at Japan Studios. It is one of the release titles for the Playstation 4 that gives a throwback nod to release titles on the original Playstation like Crash Bandicoot. However, what made Crash Bandicoot so enthralling is clearly missing in this current generation’s titles.
Knack is an awakened ancient relic who acquires more ancient relic parts in order to grow larger. Starting out at about half a human’s height, he acquires pieces throughout the level in order to gain health back and grow into a more formidable size. Knack’s storyline is original, albeit a little far-fetched and lacking in continuity. Seeing as this feels like a game intended for children, most of that would probably go over their heads.
An action game with primarily melee attacks, Knack plays like Crash Bandicoot and God of War had a very kid-friendly child.
WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW
This game is completely appropriate for children!
Every strike performed by Knack is to an enemy that disappears after being defeated. He is a brawler, which means that he punches and dodges in order to avoid being struck in return. When Knack’s health is reduced to 0, he turns into a pile of relic rubble, and then restarts at the last checkpoint.
If I could only describe Knack using one word, I would pick the word “arbitrary.” Giant health boxes that should give you large amounts of health only give you a little bit. Small boxes that should restore a small amount of health suddenly make Knack significantly larger. What should be cool about becoming so big is that enemies are easier to defeat… unfortunately, that’s not the case. As Knack gets bigger, the enemies become bigger as well, making the difficulty of the game the same throughout. It’s difficult in the beginning and in the end, so what’s commonly known as the “difficulty curve” is, in this game, just a “difficulty flat line.” Attacks sometimes hit when they shouldn’t, enemy attacks sometimes don’t hit when they’re supposed to, and the dodging mechanism is just as random as it gets. Sometimes you do get hit, sometimes you don’t. It makes for awkward and annoying gameplay.
Parents: Players must reach a checkpoint, but then the game saves automatically.
Overall, Knack wasn’t much fun for me. But, I expect a higher caliber of gameplay than most gamers. I found myself dying a lot due to the arbitrary nature of the game, and just wound up frustrated instead of challenged. I wanted to like it because the colors were fun, the story was original, and it had lots of potential… but, in every category, it just left me wanting more. But, it’s totally safe for kids! And if it was a little less arbitrary, it would be a lot more fun for kids, too. I do think that kids would get frustrated just as easily as I did were they to try to play the game all the way through. Knack ended up having a “knack” for frustrating, arbitrary gameplay that could have been significantly better than it was.