When it was unveiled with the PlayStation 4, Knack was a game that instantly drew interest from platforming fans. If the demo is any indication, Knack isn’t going to be your typical easy launch platformer.
Directed by Mark Cerny, known for working on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and extensive development with developer Naughty Dog, Knack is a platformer that “is a little bit like Crash Bandicoot and Katamari Damacy, with a touch of God of War.”
The level featured in the demo definitely held that statement true to heart.
The demo featured Knack in what looked like his most basic and smallest form. Running through a stronghold defended by goblins, I tried to melee my way through against two enemies and died pretty quickly. In this basic form, Knack could only take two hits before dying, and the first upgrade was a way’s off from the beginning of the level.
Playing around with the game’s controls, I found a combination of attacks that really seemed to work well in this level. By jumping and using the attack button to quickly a stun a goblin, the goblin will be stunned just long enough for basic melee attacks to work. Of course, we had to be careful, but from then on, it was smooth sailing, especially once Knack started to become upgradeable. It’s kind of like the Super Mario games where Mario is rather useless until he eats a mushroom. Same concept with Knack and loose parts.
Knack’s growth in the game comes from collecting other metal pieces, and when you collect enough, he grows along with your health gauge. These nicknacks, except for the ones in stones, aren’t all that easy to find though. Hidden throughout the level we played were buildings with wooden doors we didn’t know that we could open until we got curious and punched one. Again, it wasn’t incredibly obvious and no instructions were given, so the fact that a lot of the level design is interactive.
Combat in the game is pretty much pick-up-and-play, but as stated before, in Knack’s most basic form, it’s more than just running up to an enemy and hitting square. The game features a nifty catalog of attacks you can use, from a whirlwind, to an atomic ground pound to make fighting a lot easier.
Platforming in the game was rather slow, very reminiscent to the first Jak & Daxter. If the demo was any indication, there won’t be too many floating platforms to worry about, as jumping for the most part was used as a dodging mechanic. Of course, this could change, but with Knack constantly growing, we’d imagine jumping being more and more unnecessary.
Knack is shaping up to be quite a launch title. It’s unknown whether Sony wants him to be the next big mascot, but however way you look at it–Knack looks like it’s going to be a sure purchase when the PlayStation 4 is released on November 15.