A sequel was released in the last two weeks which thousands of fans had been waiting years for. Expectations of fierce battling and the chance of becoming true heroes brought these players together all excited on September 6th. It had been a long wait but thankfully it was a worthwhile wait. That game…Knack 2.
Yeah I know Knack 2 right. The original Knack was a launch title when the PlayStation 4 was first released and the reaction to it was mixed to say the very least from players and the gaming press alike. I came rather late to owning a PS4 but Knack was a title that I wanted to play and thanks to a very generous PSN sale I picked it up for an absolute steal. After all the negative things I had both heard and read, I was not sure what to expect but was genuinely surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. Knack was a fun action platformer which looked great, played great and whilst the story and characters were a little generic, I had a really great time both playing and streaming it. So when I heard a sequel was finally coming out I was pleased to see it becoming a series because I felt there was enough here to start a PlayStation game series.
Knack 2 is bigger than the first with a much longer and deeper story with far more action in terms of actual combat than the original which is made clear from the very opening which sees Knack and Lucas standing on a building looking down to see their city under attack from advanced yet mysterious robots with Lucas claiming that is all his fault. Knack jumps into battle hoping to save the city in a prologue that will teach new players the basics of how Knack works but also to reacquaint those who played the original with the world and this unlikely hero in Knack, also in thanks to a very obvious but clever explanation of everything in the opening cut-scene to the game. The twist is that the opening then leads to what the main game is, a flashback journey where the player experiences the journey right up to the point where the opening kicked off.
Knack 2 really is big improvement on the first game both in terms of how it delivers the story but more importantly in the gameplay. Knack is still able to absorb the surrounding relics around him which causes him to grow in size and strength but the platforming sections will still require him to shrink all the way down to navigate small areas. It is still impressive to see how big Knack can get but at the simple pressing or the R1 button to instantly shrink back down to his littlest form, which at his biggest size of 32ft tall to drop down to 2ft is is visually impressive. Combat wise Knack can still punch, kick and body slam enemies to oblivion and at points through the game will learn new powerful moves to aid against the ever increasing powerful enemies that will be thrown in this path.
There is something to be said about the ease of which Knack is to pick up and play with a refreshing common sense approach to the puzzle sections that players will need to navigate in order to keep pushing Knack forward in an area. The only real place a player may get caught in is the combat where it really just becomes a numbers game for Knack as he is often outnumbered by enemies with a mixture or simple minions to more deadly attacking foes that will challenge the player’s reaction times. The almost over simplistic elements at time are balanced out by the length of the campaign itself which for me came in at just over twelve hours which was a surprise. Even when you complete the game it offers more to do with its New Game + mode which will allow you to carry over any skills and collectibles from your first run into a new game to do it all again but perhaps at a higher difficulty. There is no way to collect every collectible either in just a single playthrough just as it is not possible to unlock everything on the new skill tree where as Knack levels up, the player can unlock new skills which can boost his attacks to be faster and hit harder and improve his health whilst adding new moves to his combos. This need to replay the game multiple times never feels cheap either due to the fact that this is just a fun game to play. Plus once you have completed the main story at least once, it opens up challenge mode in the Extra Content menu option which offers time attack levels and also the Coliseum which tasks the players with defeating waves of enemies in the quickest time possible for as long as Knack can survive. I have to say for the asking price at time of writing of just £29.99, this game offers a lot of content which the original game did not and adds a satisfying replay value to everything.
But it does have some issues and these are relatively minor ones but for me personally, rather annoying ones. During the story, the human side characters will join Knack for the journey but leave all the fighting to Knack and then after you have avoided hazards and battles enemies to move towards the next section, they will either be there waiting for Knack or show up just as you did. This kinda breaks the video game logic for me because if they could so easily and safely get their butts to where I had to go but Knack has to risk his life to fight, shrink, jump and solve puzzles to get to the same place, why not just go with the humans, hell why not just shrink down and just get a piggy back through the whole thing. Like I said, minor but annoying!
Then you have what should have been the best new feature for Knack 2 which just ends up being a more “oh just why didn’t you let us do this online’ frustration, the new co-op mode. Knack 2 can be completely played in two player co-op with a second blue coloured Knack joining the action. In Co-op the new Knacks can even join forces in combat either by attacking the same enemies for the rather clever way in which one Knack can punch the other Knack causing their relics to fly out and hit enemies like a machine gun almost. It is tremendous fun to play in co-op which is why the fact that is restricted to local co-op only is just so disappointing. I really struggle to understand why games in 2017 still refuse to allow online co-op when they have local co-op included. Yes sofa shared play is great fun with friends and Knack 2 benefits from it but it would also greatly benefit if the co-op was also online, something that bugged me here and also in other titles such as the recent LEGO games. It is a great new addition to the gameplay but with online factor it could have been amazing.
The story is well told and fun to experience but again, the rather beige and boring side characters that pop up in cut-scenes as almost filler content holds the story back for me. Then you have the relationship between Knack and Lucas which never really clicked for me in the first game and especially now in the sequel. The voice acting just fails to make the characters connect in any real way and it grates on me how Lucas takes credit for pretty everything Knack does with the “we” all the time, cheeky git. The rest of the game is really solid with the visuals which are striking and good set pieces in the action and platforming which has nice little touches even if the camera position at times fails to help see where Knack needs to go at times.
Perhaps the biggest mistake though with Knack 2 is just how under marketed this game was before release and having the same launch date as Destiny 2 was really just cruel because Knack 2 is so much fun to play and the series now that it is one, deserves to have more of a presence in the PlayStation 4 family and line up of games then it has. With the improvements made in this sequel and the story teasing a third, Knack 2 delivers a fun experience for gamers of all skill types with plenty of replay value and even if restricted for sofa co-op only, a great reason to share it with a friend.
Knack 2 is a sleeper hit title for me of 2017 which has great potential to offer even more if a third game is released. I only hope Sony PlayStation see the sense and finally invest faith in it as a series and allows it to keep growing bigger and better….just like Knack himself.