Knack has been a pretty polarizing game. Looking at the reviews, it ranges from a high of 84 at Cheat Code Central to a low of 30 from Joystiq.
For me, as a reviewer, scores less than 50 should be reserved for games that are broken in some way and, honestly, there’s nothing broken about Knack. There might not be anything special or particularly “next-gen” about it, but it is not a broken game.
The world of Knack is a Dreamworks-inspired, candy colored combnation of sci-fi and magic. The energy source everyone relies on to power their vehicles, generators, power drills and elevators are called relics and they literally are that. Energy filled relics from an ancient civilization, dug up from ruins far underground. A scientist figured out that a special combination of these relics could gain sentience and this golem made up of ancient artifacts is known as Knack.
The game is made up of 50 levels spread across 13 chapters. Each chapter ranges in length from 2 to 5 levels each. As Knack you’ll defend against Goblin invaders, take down security drones, explore hidden ruins and escape from exploding volcanoes. By using relics Knack can increase his health and body mass, taking on more powerful enemies. In addition, Knack has three super attacks which are initiated first by pressing Circle then Square, Triangle or Circle again. Power for the special attacks comes from collecting glowing yellow Sunstone crystals. You start with three slots on the power meter, however more can be gained by collecting gadget parts.
The collection of parts and other crystals feels not quite fully thought out. Each level has poorly hidden doors that contain relics, sunstones, gadget parts or collectible crystals. Because there are so many gadgets to collect, and some are as many as seven pieces, it makes it hard to actually complete any single object. One reviewer stated he didn’t completely collect an object until level 9. I got my first gadget by level 4-2 and my second somewhere around level 6. By the time I finished the game I had 3 complete objects, but was nowhere near on collectible crystals. The closest I got on any of them was 4/20. It reached a point where I stopped getting excited over finding hidden doors because the majority of the time they held ubiquitous relics or sunstones.
Gameplay is pretty basic as far as platformers go, there’s plenty of running and jumping. The creators likened it to the original Crash Bandicoot and I think that’s a fair assessment, down to the annoying levels where you have to run towards the camera without being able to see where you’re going. Fortunately those style of levels are few and far between.
Graphically, Knack would look nice for a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 title, it doesn’t look anywhere near what a next-gen title should look. Through my entire 2-and-a-half day playthrough I saw two brief instances of slow-down but no other graphical problems. The animated cut scenes look as good as what you’d see in a computer animated Saturday morning cartoon show. Beating the game unlocks a speed mode and an arena combat mode, along with a chapter select if you want to farm for the rest of the items you missed out on the first time through. All your collected items remain at completion making it easier to pick off what you’re missing.
The voice acting and music is fine, nothing special but nothing horrible or annoying either. My wife is very attuned to music and will often complain about repeating tunes or themes (cough, Final Fantasy, cough), but here I caught her humming along more than once.
Over all, Knack is a solid B-Level game. It’s not worth the $60 asking price, but as a part of a bundle or later on as a rental or PS+ free title it’s very good. On par with something like Enslaved from the previous generation.
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo.com and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3 and PS4, Microsoft XBOX One and XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews, release dates and up to date gaming industry news, trailers and rumors.