Positive Video Games

Positive Video Games

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Knack is a PS4 launch game rated E-10 (everyone 10 and older), which I picked up with my new PS4. It is a charming game from the same mold as Ratchet & Clank. It is a beautiful game with great visuals that I think shows off the power of the PS4 quite nicely (not as visually stunning as Killzone: Shadow Fall, but still nice).  It is a platformer/brawler game with a cute, child friendly, story about a world where humans use "relics" to power everything, and goblins are messing things up. No scary/horrifying moments so far, and I would say I have managed to play about half way through it as I write this.

Game play focuses more on combat than platforming. Think of the level roaming in Ratchet & Clank plus the combat of Jak and Daxter/Rayman. The game leaves out the collecting from Jak & Daxter, and the guns/gadgets from Ratchet & Clank.

Knack's major game play innovation (and it isn't much of an innovation, as the original Mario Brothers had it) is that as he gathers more artifacts, he gets bigger and stronger. That means he can hit harder, and take more damage. Of course, the game knows when it has given you enough artifacts to get stronger, and scales the enemies you face to match you. So, you pretty much almost never feel like a bad-ass, because the enemies are almost always strong enough to kill you in one or two good hits. There has been one section of a level though where you play as a mega-Knack (taller than a building) and are over-powered for everything except for a couple of tanks, and a boss, everything else you can swat away. Knack also has the (limited, special) ability to absorb elements occasionally, like ice, to add a form of armor, and make himself even bigger.

The combat is VERY simplistic. You can jump and attack which will cause you to do a Sonic the Hedgehog-like spinning ball attack. You can also double jump and attack. Other than that, you just press attack on the ground, and Knack will cycle through various attacks of a punching and spinning punching variety. The ground-based attacks are stronger than the air-based ones. That all sounds simple, but it isn't, as most enemies you face are capable of killing you in one or two hits. So, if you are facing 2 or more at the same time, you have to constantly keep moving, and hope they don't get a lucky hit.

The game play is fast paced, but unforgiving (which is standard for platformers). If you die, you will automatically (and instantly) reset back to your last automatic save-point (you have no control over the saving system). You will find yourself respawning over and over again from some fights that are just VERY difficult to beat (you will more or less have to trial-and-error them and memorize what to do). I am playing my game on Normal difficulty, for reference.

A couple of things I DON'T like in the game are: the camera is fixed position, and the special movement stuff doesn't work well. For the camera, fixed position means you don't get to control it, and I am REALLY used to controlling it. The game does a decent job with the camera, but I think I would do better if I could control it myself.  I have died in the game because the camera switched views and the view wasn't appropriate for the platforming I needed to do, causing disorientation and me walking off ledges, etc. I constantly reach for the right stick to control the camera, but that just makes me dash around. Which brings me to the second thing I don't care for: the dash move. The right stick will make Knack instantly dash up, down, left or right in a blur. It is intended for use in combat, but I hardly ever use it (except when the game goes into slow motion and prompts me to), BECAUSE after you use it, you have to RECOVER from using it, meaning you just stand there for a half second and Knack won't respond to your commands, and that is often FATAL in a fight. Additionally, because I am so used to controlling the camera, I keep hitting it when I don't mean to, which causes me to die a lot.

Overall, of all of the launch games I got for the PS4, I like Knack the best. Killzone is just another first person shooter, nothing special (and it is fairly violent, but at least you can turn the blood off), and Assassin's Creed 4 is available on all the systems, and is just a standard Assassin's Creed game. Again, nothing special.

I like Knack. If you have a PS4, I highly recommend you play it. Kids and adults should find something to enjoy with it. Try it :)

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