Knack

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Knack
Knack.jpg
Knack is Knackered.
Genre: Beat em' up
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Release Date: November 2013
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Franchise: Knack
Next Game: Knack II

Knack is a beat 'em up game developed by SIE Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 released as a launch title for the console.

Bad Qualities

  1. Broken and unbalanced combat. Knack dies in about two or three hits regardless of his size or enemy types. This is made worse because enemies attack in swarms, Knack's dodge is very unreliable, checkpoints are rather uncommon, and health pick-ups are rare.
    • Technically this would mean that the enemies aren't doing artificial damage, but rather gravitational damage (based on how much max health you actually have).
  2. The core mechanic of the game, collecting relics to make Knack bigger and stronger, is completely pointless and doesn't affect gameplay for the following reasons:
    • Knack only becomes bigger on specific points of the levels and always a specific amount. You have no real control over Knack's size whatsoever.
    • Growing bigger doesn't give Knack any additional abilities nor change how he controls.
    • When Knack becomes stronger, enemies automatically become stronger too so you still keep dying in two to three hits no matter what. Collecting relics barely restores health either.
    • Occasionally Knack gets ice, wood, or metal armor but those have no real effects on him. In fact, some of the armors actually make him weaker. For example, ice armor doesn't give him ice abilities. Wood armor only makes him vulnerable to fire. Metal makes him get pulled to magnetic metal objects.
    • Knack is made of countless blocks and spheres that he controls at his own will but he can't do anything other than run, jump, and punch? He can't even stretch his limbs or throw his fists like Rayman does?
  3. Overly repetitive gameplay. Almost all of the game experience can be found in the first level of the game. The game doesn't even take any proper measures to break the monotony. Sony directly admitted that Knack was rushed so it could be a launch title for the PS4. The developers didn't have time to flesh out any of the ideas they had for the game as a result.
  4. Knack has a very shallow skills set. He only has the most basic three-punch combo and some Sun Stone powers, but that's all he has. Combined, only four buttons are used on the controller, and there is no real way to upgrade these attacks. His dodge isn't that reliable either, and it leaves him vulnerable. Knack doesn't even have any defensive options. The sequel even lampshades how limited Knack's moves are!
  5. At times, the game appears to struggle maintaining a consistent frame rate.
  6. Knack has to begin every level at his smallest size and the game's story forces reasons as to why this happens for each level. That being said, it's not like starting big would make any difference anyway.
  7. Upgrades are unlikely to be obtained before you complete the game due to the way the upgrade collectible system works.
    • While crystal relics obtained from secret rooms do change Knack's combat capabilities(attack, defense, and sun power), they are obtained at random, and you can continue collecting the same ones over and over, even after having a completed set, making the elusive Diamond Knack frustrating to get.
  8. The game is basically just a tech-demo to show off the PlayStation 4's ability to render a large amount of objects at once in the form of the blocks and spheres that compose Knack's body.
  9. Uninspired level design. It's mostly linear corridors and enemy encounters with barely any platforming or exploration.
  10. Poorly written plot. Knack himself has little impact on the story and isn't given any character development whatsoever. The story focuses on the human NPCs, not the player character. Also a whole plot arc about the goblins is suddenly dropped in the middle of the story without any reason, conclusion, or resolution.
  11. On the topic of the story, Viktor is a terrible antagonist. He literally has no reason to be a villain, his goals aren't malicious or greedy, he just wants to work with Knack and Professor Vargas to study a big scientific discovery. Rather than politely asking the doctor to cooperate with his research, Viktor instead tries to get his help by constantly trying to kill him!
  12. The game overstays its welcome by around 3-4 hours, it feels longer due to the problems mentioned above. A Hard playthrough can last anywhere between 10-13 hours depending on player skill.
  13. The couch co-op mode is extremely obscure and not mentioned anywhere in the game. A player who does not know that the game has co-op, has no reason to assume that there is such a mode.

Good Qualities

  1. For an early PS4 game, the graphics are pretty good, looking like something you would see in a CGI animated movie.
  2. Though the execution is underdeveloped, the game's overall concept is very creative.
  3. The game runs reasonably well compared to other rushed titles. All of the issues with it are purely gameplay and story related.

Reception

Initially, Sony heavily advertised Knack for the PS4's launch, claiming that they were hoping he would become the console's mascot similar to how Crash BandicootAGW was the PS1's mascot. When the game came out, however, it received negative to mixed reviews and was heavily panned by gamers for its repetitive unbalanced gameplay and for not taking advantage of its creative protagonist. It has a Metacritic score of 54/100.

Despite the poor reviews, the game was a commercial success. Sales of Knack flatlined after around Christmas 2013, however, and it's thought that its strong initial sales were due to it being included in a lot of PS4 bundles, and/or the lack of any other platform games in the system's early months. The high sales of the game and "meme" status the character received convinced Sony to develop a sequel, Knack II.