So the reviews for the PS4 launch exclusive Knack are out and they're not good. Man, I thought Sonic Lost World's reviews were depressing. But Sonic's disappointment for me came after having 2 fairly good, fairly solid console outings (Colors, Generations).
I got behind Knack because I'm always happy to see a new IP that isn't another grim and gritty action game. Sony in fairness has at least been making an effort to reach out to younger gamers during the PS3's life with stuff like Ratchet and Clank, Little Big Planet, Sly Cooper 4 and Puppeteer and Knack seemed to be continuing that trend. Seriously Xbox, where's your attempt to make something worthwhile for kids? Oh right, you let Rare wither away and die. Never mind.
From what I can tell suffers from the same problem a LOT of launch games suffer from. Namely trying to get out in time for launch. There's potential for something that could've truly been unique. But for a launch game, a lot of freedom and exploration appears to have been sacrificed in order for this to show off the PS4's graphical power.
Hallway game: What's a hallway game you ask? Well a perfect example is God of War. It's a game where you have little to no exploration or freedom. The levels consist of you running down a corridor, beating up baddies, maybe having the occasional jumping or puzzle solving sequence but for the most part, you're running down a hall to the next cutscene. Developers love this because it's easy and a good way to keep their narrative from going off track. Metroid Other M did this hence why all the solitude and exploration was replaced with cut scenes where Samus whined for hours on end. The worst part of hallway games is they limit the potential of what the player could do with their character. Knack has the cool ability to grown and shrink and change elements. He belongs in a huge Super Mario 64 open world environment to explore his full potential. But the reason this is restricted to a hallway, because it's harder to see any graphical flaws. They want those bushes and trees to look perfect from a particular angle. This would make sense except that the Pixar-esque design isn't super realistic so why be so restrictive?
Limited Brawler: At least Kratos and Sonic's God awful werehog form, you could play around with a variety of attacks and upgrade special moves. Knack doesn't appear to even have that. All reviews have said, he just gets a few punches and special attacks. There's a million things you could do with a robotic creature made of little pieces but it doesn't get explored.
For kids? Some argue that the simplistic gameplay is for kids and I don't buy that. Just because the game is geared at kids, is not an excuse to water it down. When we were kids, we played NES game with no saves and no in game hits where you could die very quickly. There's a stark difference between "pick up and play" and "watered down" and developers seem to have trouble with this. To make a good game for kids, it should be "easy to learn, hard to master." Some of the best and most popular board games work on this premise, hence why it's easier to get friends together to play Monopoly than Warhammer.
In the end, Sony fanboys and early PS4 adopters will throw a fit over the reviews namely because they don't want to think they'll blowing $400 on a library that is mostly made up of prettier versions of current gen games and hey there's parents who probably will buy a PS4 for themselves and need something for their little ones, it will suffice but I feel like kids deserve something better.