|Dev: Japan Studios|
|Release: November 15, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence|
by Matt Walker
When Knack was first introduced, I said to myself, “This could be the entry-level game for parents and kids to play.” You know, something similar to Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter, only this time with co-op. The launch libraries from both sides of the next-gen aisle are filled with hardcore gaming experiences or adult-themed games. Sony, unlike Microsoft, decided to wave the children’s flag, saying that kid gamers are welcome too. At least with a big exclusive, anyway. So yes, Knack is built around the idea younger players are going to pick this up. But is that a reason to fault it right out of the gate?
Knack tells the story of, well, Knack: a creature that was brought to life by the Doctor. The Doctor found a way to bring to life the relics his people had discovered. There’s a little more to it than that, but I don’t want to give away spoilers. Goblins have attacked the people, and there has not been much headway in pushing back the enemy hordes. Even the best tacticians from the government have little to no effect. After the good Doctor introduces Knack, he appears to be the last great hope to stop the goblins. Thus, the adventure begins.
The story unfolds over about ten hours of gameplay. Through this, you discover the good, the bad, and even the characters in the middle. Much like other classic genre titles, it is fairly simple to see which characters you need to watch out for and not trust. Along the way, you will discover more about Knack and the mysterious ancient relics he’s comprised of. All in all, the storyline of the game doesn’t leave you exacerbated, like some of the other games you can enjoy on the next-gen, but there is one thing about it I really enjoy–its simplicity.
This also carries over to the controls. Whether this design was meant for the younger audiences or if it was just by happenstance, it works really well. For example, action games tend to rely on limited buttons to help you get through the game, this sometimes works really well, but there’s always a sense of delay in performing the action. Knack either is super responsive, or I am too old to tell anymore. So let’s go with it’s responsive. In all seriousness, though, limiting the control scheme this way doesn’t detract from the experience, if anything, it makes things more enjoyable.
While the controls thrive on simplicity, this is not the case when talking about graphics. Knack is just beautiful. It is a beautiful game. The environment is crisp and lively. The characters (while a bit cartoony) are fully realized and represent the world they live in quite well. Then there’s Knack. When you take a character that is built of many smaller intricate pieces, you have to bring your A-game for that to work. Knack is just that. Several times, I would look at the added pieces of Knack and just marvel at how cool it looked. I know there are games out there now that have done exceptionally well with this concept, but legitimately, Knack just does it better.
Fans of the industry will also get a pleasant surprise from the voice actors in the game. Several industry legends lend their vocals to the storyline. As always, they deliver fantastic performances, which is a good thing when compared to the score of the game. While not horrendous by any means, it is also not anything revolutionary. We are treated to fairly obvious child-friendly types of energetic music. Even with this though, the music doesn’t become intrusive by any means, but if you are paying attention, you may hear the same flow of music you heard the last time you stopped to listen.