Knack was one of the first games I played on my PlayStation 4 back when it launched in November of 2013. While the game had some major issues in its design and story I still thought it was an OK game for a launch title. Knack did not do well critically and most including myself figured that would be the last you would see of this new character. Then we all heard some rumors and finally got confirmation last December that Knack was coming back which left many scratching their heads why. Well the Knack team felt like there were a lot of things they could do to address the complaints with the original and I can say for the most part they have done just that.
One of the main criticisms with the first game was the lack of gameplay variety. Not just in what you were doing throughout the game but also in the combat mechanics. Knack is a linear 3D Action/Platformer game and the first one just didn’t feature enough action variety. When it came to fighting enemies all you could do was use the same punches and kicks over and over. This quickly became boring and repetitive over the duration of the game but thankfully Knack has some new tricks up his sleeve in Knack 2. Knack now has access to punches, kicks, grabs, body slams, ranged attacks, and more. Not only that but if you hold the attack buttons down you can unleash charged attacks that deal much more damage and that can break through enemies that are blocking. The right stick still allows you to perform a quick dodge and a new blocking mechanic allows you to parry and deflect enemy projectiles back at them. In addition Knack 2 has a new skill tree as well that allows you to gain new abilities over the course of the game or improve current ones. One thing that did bother me though was the lack of enemy variety. The first game suffered from this and Knack 2 really doesn’t do any better here as you are pretty much fighting the same goblins over the course of the game which is a let down.
The combat isn’t the only area that got some much needed attention as the platforming in Knack 2 has been ratcheted up a few notches as well. The original game was pretty simple and easy as it was intended to be played by younger players as well. Knack 2 is still meant to be fun for all ages but platforming sections are more challenging now. Having recently played through the Crash Bandicoot games again I’d say some sections even resemble more of the challenge you would expect out of those games. Many sections you’ll have to keep switching between big Knack and little Knack in order to dodge obstacles which keeps you on your toes. Certain areas in the levels you can also only get to in one form or another. For example you might see a small ledge that you will have to shrink down to little Knack in order to cross and maybe find a treasure chest at the end. There is even some light puzzle solving mechanics in the game which further help keep it from growing too samey. Finally certain gameplay moments have you performing quick-time events in order to complete them which I’m a fan of but if you aren’t keep in mind this game uses them quite a bit.
Now one area I still feel isn’t quite up to par with what you maybe expect out of a first-party PlayStation game is the story. The original Knack didn’t have a great story and while it isn’t as bad in this game it still isn’t anything really memorable. The game begins with the city of Newhaven being attacked by goblin forces and you trying to save it as Knack. That opening chapter actually ends up being towards the end of the game as you are then sent months into the past to play the rest of the game leading up to that point. This serves to inform you who has gathered all of the goblin forces back together and why they are attacking you. The characters in the game still have that same animated look although they do look better. Knack, Lucas, and other returning characters all deliver pretty good voice performances and the game has a pretty great soundtrack as well. For a game meant for all ages the story in Knack 2 holds its own in the end.
Going a little deeper into the graphics Knack 2 looks a lot better than the first game which you would expect this many years later. It still has that great colorful look but improvements to things like textures, lighting, real-time shadows, character animation and more really show how much better it looks over the original. I played the game on a PS4 Pro and it offers some nice options for those who do. You can play in a High Resolution mode for 4K visuals or you can opt for Performance mode instead which pretty much has you playing at 60FPS. I played using both and enjoyed the options as the 60FPS really makes the combat feel smooth but the High Resolution really makes everything look much better. There is even an option to lock the framerate at 30FPS if you feel the need to. The game also supports HDR which further makes the colors and lighting really standout.
For those who have a couch partner to play with Knack 2 features full on drop-in, drop-out co-op. I played through most of the game with a partner and It’s really quite fun as you can perform additional moves and combos that are only usable with a friend. Also if you reach a part that one of you can’t get past you can teleport to the other player making it so no one gets left behind. There is no option for online co-op unfortunately but I guess if you use Share Play on the PS4 you could. The game took me around 13 hours my first time through to beat it playing on the hard difficulty setting. If you are a seasoned gamer I recommend playing on Hard as the two earlier difficulties are a little too easy and could make the game feel boring. Knack 2 offers plenty to keep you playing though as there are other modes such as time attack and coliseum that provide challenges. Each level in Knack 2 also has a set of challenges to complete that will reward you with tokens and there is even a New Game Plus option for those who want to start over and carry all of their abilities over. For a $40 package there is a lot here to enjoy and keep you playing.
While many would doubt it Knack 2 has turned out to be a pretty fun package. Improvements to the combat and moment to moment gameplay prevent this sequel from falling into the same boring slog that the original suffered from. It’s not just that either as improvements to story, graphics, and a wide range of reasons to replay further make this an appealing package especially for the price you are paying. Knack is back and has improved himself enough to warrant being played by any 3D platformer fan.
*Knack 2 is available on PS4. Review code provided by Sony for this review. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro.