by Brian Robbins
It’s day two of E3 for me, and I’m waiting anxiously to get inside the show room floor. Finally the clock hits 10 and we’re let inside. Everyone scrambles to their destinations, some looking for swag (freebies) and some are looking for business ventures. Me? I’m looking to finally have some hands on time with Sony’s new PlayStation 4. Luckily for me the wait was incredibly short for their new launch title, Knack. With its charming and addictive gameplay, it’ll be a great choice for anyone this November when the new system launches.
I didn’t get a whole lot information when it came to gameplay but during my time with the playable E3 demo, I was beating up enemies who wore plate armor and seemed to be shooting purple lava projectiles. I was hit by their indigo firepower and I noticed my character losing health and getting a little bit smaller. That’s the thing in Knack, your health and size are one and the same. Luckily for you, you can grow in size and recover your health when you bust open these red mailbox looking boxes floating around the levels.
The gameplay was simple yet strangely had me addicted. I loved how the dodge was attached to the right analog stick. See a fireball or a flying fist coming at you? Flick the stick in the same direction and dodge right under it! Eventually, I was dodging punches better than Ali ever did and punching twice as hard. Speaking of punching, there’s plenty of varied combos you can do in Knack but it seemed the enemies would die too quickly to really show any of them off. It did seem at times just a little bit too easy.
Another thing that has been common throughout these action platformers is the introduction of the super meter. In the stages you can find yellow crystals that you can smash and collect to build up your super meter. Once full, it unleashes a room clearing maneuver and most of all looks pretty cool.
Eventually, I reached a point inside a building where stealth was required. By pressing the triangle button the main character can switch to his tiny, stealthier alternate mode. When Knack’s in this form he can pass right through red laser wires, and bust into vents like any classic video game. After you exit from the vent, or pass through laser wires, you would transform back into the bigger Knack to deal with enemies. The puzzles were incredibly easy to figure out, so I’m hoping they make some harder sequences with it. It was very original and most of all smooth.
I can’t say the same thing about the next section of the demo, which had me controlling the huge towering version of Knack showed in some of the trailers. He was slow but powerful, using his special move I would burst around in a tornado and destroy everything in my path. This utterly destroyed the framerate and it bogged everything down. Sure, I destroyed the goons in my way but it wasn’t very pretty.
Other than that, I found Knack to be a incredibly entertaining game that felt great with the new controller. The combat was very smooth and the visuals were almost something out of a Dr. Seuss book– that’s a good thing! If I could compare this game to anything that’s currently available I would say that the game play was very similar to Crash Bandicoot for the original PlayStation.
One section that really impressed me was the ice level. Instead of breaking red boxes to grow Knack, I had to smash icicles and he would become a big ice creature. It was visually stunning seeing Knack running around with so many things protruding from his body and it to be honest it was hilarious. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any more elemental levels like this throughout the game, perhaps a fire based level?
All in all, I left the E3 demo very impressed. I can’t wait to see what the full game looks like and hopefully isn’t one of those games where you beat it and have it sitting around on your shelf forever. Hopefully, this title will keep you back with unlockables or some sort of multiplayer. Only time will tell and I will definitely be keeping my eye on this one.