As Sony starts rolling out its first party exclusives for the holiday season, Knack II provides a family friendly alternative that supports cooperative play as well as several improvements over the original game.
We’ll readily admit that we raised an eyebrow when we heard about Sony’s lineup of upcoming sequels a few months ago. Sure, it made sense that Uncharted and The Last of Us were coming back for more, but a Knack sequel was definitely a surprise. It’s now been launched, and it got a price tag that’s in line with Uncharted: Lost Legacy. While it’s not as good as that game, it’s certainly worth a look and it’s nice to see Sony releasing games at this price point.
The reason it was so surprising that Knack II was being developed is that the original didn’t exactly get the response Sony had hoped for when it launched back in 2014. It was a PS4 launch title, it was playable at all the big conventions and often used in PS4 demo pods around the globe. Despite all that exposure, it never really resonated with the audience. Part of that was that it’s a title aimed at younger players, and they weren’t rushing out to buy a Playstation 4. But an even bigger part was that, as a package, Knack was just kind of unremarkable.
After seeing games like Uncharted 3 pop up late in the PS3’s lifecycle, Knack’s graphics didn’t blow people away as being “next gen”. Its combat felt too bland, as did most of the platforming, and people didn’t seem to care much about Knack as a character as well. Knack II doesn’t do much to fix that last issue, but it does fix up the combat and platforming making for a far more enjoyable game.
Knack himself hasn’t changed and I can’t say it’s a character that will stick with me – he’s not fun, doesn’t have a lot of personality and doesn’t exactly ooze charm either. Part of that is also a largely forgettable storyline, which is an area that didn’t improve much. Knack’s gotten a lot more fun to control though, as combat was vastly improved and stringing together moves feels far more satisfying this time around. Sure, you’re not controlling Kratos or Lara Croft here, but it’s far more intricate and complex than what we saw back in 2014. What also helps is that you keep unlocking new moves throughout the course of the adventure, keeping things interesting as you progress.
Because Knack feels less clunky to control, the game’s platforming sections are also more fun to play – though they’re not exactly groundbreaking in their design. What’s fun is that you can jump in with a second controller at any time to play through the game cooperatively, which is highly recommended as a way to enjoy the game as a family with more and less experienced gamers. It will also help with the game’s puzzles, although none of them are particularly difficult since the game has a knack for signposting their solutions (see what I did there?).
So while Knack still isn’t as memorable as some of the other classic platforming franchises on the Playstation platform, his second outing is definitely worth a try and one of the rare titles in the genre that you can play cooperatively with younger gamers – not counting the LEGO titles, of course, since they’re a genre of their own. If you have children, then this could be a great way to spend time with them this holiday season. If not, then it’s a solid platformer but unfortunately not as good as, for instance, the Ratched & Clank reboot.