Review

Knack Review

  • First Released Nov 15, 2013
    released
  • PS4

Falling to pieces.

Mercy is not part of Knack's vocabulary. He happily uppercuts a defeated enemy into a steaming lake of molten lava and flings an aircraft by its tail into the unforgiving ground. And don't believe for a second that he sheds a single tear for the pilot engulfed in the flaming wreckage; Knack doesn't let sentimentality distract him from a good fight. The only thing he desires more than brutal destruction is finding creative ways to exterminate his many foes. At least that's how the cutscenes play out. When you're given control, Knack mindlessly punches his way through corridor after corridor of enemies, and you're left wondering why Knack gets to have so much more fun than you do.

Oppression is the theme that binds Knack's overarching narrative together. Goblins have been forced from their lands by the imperialistic humans, and after surviving in the wastelands for generations, they finally have the power to mount a rebellion. Goblins aren't the only creatures who have to deal with oppression. Knack was created by a benevolent doctor who has found a way to turn ancient relics into a sentient being. The philosophical implications of this discovery flip the very notion of life on its head. As Knack muses about the nature of love during a quiet cutscene, you realize that, like Frankenstein's monster, he is capable of self-reflection and poignant observations. And yet, he is treated like a weapon. Does he deserve to be viewed as an equal even though he was birthed through alchemical experimentation? Such ruminations are glossed over. Instead of realizing his humanity, Knack usually acts like a meathead, cracking his knuckles while he waits for his next fight.

Even Knack can appreciate fine art.
Even Knack can appreciate fine art.

Instead of realizing his humanity, Knack usually acts like a meathead, cracking his knuckles while he waits for his next fight.

Relying exclusively on combat isn't inherently bad. There are plenty of games that slowly build on their fighting mechanics and provide enough twists and detours to keep you riveted. However, Knack's combat lacks the necessary depth to captivate your senses. The core problems stem from your meager repertoire. Knack has only five ways to attack the many enemies who confront him, and you learn every one of these moves in the opening tutorial. Three of these attacks--a whirlwind, a projectile blast, and a shock wave--serve as special powers that can be activated only when you collect enough sunstones. Another, your jump attack, propels you toward your enemy as a wrecking ball. But because both you and your enemy recoil when contact is made, you can't use this as the setup for your combos. Which leaves you with the standard punch. So you punch, and punch, and punch some more, for that is how victory is achieved in Knack.

There is weight behind your attacks that makes you understand the pain you're causing, and slow-motion finishers hammer home just how strong Knack is. But solid mechanics mean nothing alone. Because there is such little variance between fights, you're quickly lulled into the bored stupor of predictability. Knack absorbs relics into his body, which allows him to grow from a pint-size pet into a hulking monstrosity. Remember when a mere goblin took three hits to kill? Well laugh at those miniscule fools as you plow through them without breaking a sweat. Behold Knack, destroyer of goblins, devourer of worlds! Sounds pretty amazing, no? No is right. As you get bigger, so too do your enemies, so there's no difference in how fights play out. You still just punch your way to success and perform the weakest double jump known to games, only now you're fighting tanks instead of men.

There may be a red carpet, but this is hardly an event.
There may be a red carpet, but this is hardly an event.

During a moment of enlightenment, Knack realizes that his ever-changing body can be composed of more diverse parts than just relics. Ice, wood, and other materials automatically get pulled into the vacuum of your body in certain levels, shifting your appearance from runic golem to elemental beast. But said changes are only skin deep. Sure, a flaming arrow may melt your icy heart, so you can lose your outer shell that serves as a shield, but there's no mechanical difference between normal Knack and his earthy counterpart. Still, Knack does occassionally introduce ideas that hint at a real evolution. For instance, in some levels, you have a crystalline body, which initializes Stealth Knack. It's finally time for some real variety, right? Not quite. With the tap of a button, Knack can walk through the laser beams that serve as a high-tech security system. But enemies can still see you, even though you're invisible. It's hard to stifle a laugh when the doctor says, "No more sneaking around" after an enemy shoots at you, as if sneaking was ever an option.

So you punch, and punch, and punch some more, for that is how victory is achieved in Knack.

There are 13 chapters in Knack, and every one of them plays out in the same tired manner. You start out small, gradually build your size until you're huge, and then arbitrarily shrink back down when the chapter wraps up. There's always a convenient excuse for this transformation. How else could Knack fit in a biplane if he doesn't lose his precious relics? And then you start the whole cycle all over again. In the beginning of the eighth chapter, the doctor plainly states that you must grow as large as possible, as if we somehow missed the pattern that has been cemented from the onset.

If you're craving exploration, there are opportunities to veer slightly off the main path if you have sharp eyes. Weak walls can be knocked down to find extra relics and sunstones, along with collectible treasures that imbue Knack with new abilities. There are tons of collectibles strewn throughout Knack's expansive worlds, but these pieces are worthless on their own. If you're lucky enough to complete a set, you get a perk that gives you a passive ability. It wasn't until I reached the ninth chapter that I completed my first gadget, more than eight hours into my adventure. And what did I receive after all that effort? Enemies released a small amount of sunstone power when defeated. Don't expect these collectibles to inject the diversity Knack so desperately needs.

Just look at that Knack punch.
Just look at that Knack punch.

It's hard to stifle a laugh when the doctor says, "No more sneaking around" after an enemy shoots at you, as if sneaking was ever an option.

The most baffling part of Knack is its surprisingly high difficulty. Considering the cartoony artistic design and simple mechanics, you might assume that this game would be a cakewalk. But after you die a half-dozen times in the tutorial, that belief will be banished from your mind. When Knack is in his smallest form, he dies from just one or two attacks, and can stand only a couple more when he's bigger. So death comes frequently. If you're vigilant, you can avoid enemy advances by performing well-timed rolls, but even these should be used with caution. You're not invincible when rolling, so you can't abuse this maneuver. Now I love a good challenge, but dying is an annoyance in Knack because the combat sequences aren't interesting enough to play through once, let alone multiple times. There is a cooperative mode if you need a helping hand or want to offer one. Knack is as vulnerable as ever, but the second player controls Robo Knack who respawns after dying. Sadly, the action isn't any more fun when you're dragging a friend along for the ride.

Knack's downfall is that it focuses entirely on combat, but doesn't offer enough variety or depth within its system to compel you onward. Any early thoughts you may have that there must be more to the punch-punch-repeat action than meets the eye are banished once you plow through hours of the same basic sequences. And even Knack's few attempts at diversity are merely competent. The occasional platforming scenario lacks the joy of movement so necessary for jumping to be engaging, and the platform placement doesn't require any cleverness to surpass. There's not one element of Knack to rally around, to excite you. And without that special something, Knack crumbles just like its piecemeal protagonist.

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The Good

  • Well-realized environments that you want to exist in

The Bad

  • Little variety to distract from the nonstop fighting
  • Even enlarging Knack or turning him invisible doesn't change the action
  • Artificial environments and enemy interactions
  • Tiresome combat with a meager move set

About the Author

Colorful adventures are where Tom wishes he could spend just about all of his gaming time. Tom played through a finished build of the game and it took roughly 10 hours.
1034 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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npgr

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I find it sad. This game could have been so much more, but now it will we deemed as failure by Sony so the chances of a AAA fun to play adventure game are slim to none.

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calducce

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@npgr

You literally have no idea how business works do you.

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syseong

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Edited By syseong

This clearly show that a better console hardware won't makes a game a great game.


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calducce

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Edited By calducce

@syseong

If you needed a game review to show you that, I really hope you don't reproduce.

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jacquelineferre

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@syseong a worst hardware definetely won't make a better game

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toshineon

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Edited By toshineon

@jacquelineferre @syseong Hardware's got little to do with if a game is good or not. Had that been the case, all PS1 and N64 games would suck. But instead, those consoles has some of the best games ever made.

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Carnikoid85

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Let's be honest. High hopes for the game came only because Mark Cerny was involved.

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robbiejones

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@Carnikoid85 he's worked on great games in the past... Knack is deff one of he's worst

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jacquelineferre

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Edited By jacquelineferre

@robbiejones what games? onestly all the games he did were crap even he agrees with that.

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FroMcJoe

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This game looks like it could have been really cool!

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jacquelineferre

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@FroMcJoe Could

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codethought

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I'm sorry.. not to disrespect the reviewer.. but I think you missed the point of this game - make a fun family-friendly launch title for the PS4. This isn't God of War, ok? It's Ratchet and Clank... we're having fun with it. I think MOST people who try it would have fun with it. A 4 would *insert the title of any Barbie video game here*.


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deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

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@codethought even family friendly games can be actually worth their price tag. see Little Big Planet.

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codethought

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@groowagon I couldn't agree more. But I disagree that this game doesn't qualify as being worth the pricetag.



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SlimeSwayze

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All I can think is that this reviewer is incompetent and has completely lost touch with why he even got into this business in the first place. The game isn't a masterpiece, far from it in fact, but good lord is it fun to play.

10 • 
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jawslover

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@SlimeSwayze So pretty much every critic in the media is incompetent? Hmm sounds like denial.

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jacquelineferre

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@SlimeSwayze lol there still time to buy an XBOX ONE

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SlimeSwayze

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@jacquelineferre @SlimeSwayze Ha. Look, I may be a lot of things, but I'm not stupid. I'm sure the X1 will have some decent games in two or three years and will maybe be worth owning by then if there's a price drop, but that hardware at that price is a terrible deal for anyone that isn't simply loyal to the brand. I play games for the games, not the name on the box.

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deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

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@SlimeSwayze i think that some people just refuse to admit that they have wasted their money with games like these. the game is bad. just admit it.

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toshineon

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Edited By toshineon

@groowagon @SlimeSwayze It's fine that you don't like the game, not everyone has to. I didn't like the last generation of consoles, and I'm sure many people would disagree with me. But if he likes it, then what's it to you?

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JJames3dCG

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@groowagon @SlimeSwayze Have you played it? How can you call the game bad, if you haven't played it, see an above post of mine to get a real impression of the game.

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calducce

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@JJames3dCG @groowagon @SlimeSwayze

Because he'd rather get his mind off of some reviews than try something for himself. It's called being a sheep. Does it matter? We're having fun playing the games we want to play while lifeless noobs troll gamespot reviews looking for people to argue with.

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Rheinmetal

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I think most of us saw that coming. The days when critics and gamers were enthusiastic with Kameos and Perfect Dark Zeros, just because they were "next-gen" seem to belong in the past.

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darkfall_225

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This game looks like it would appeal to young kids. Young kids still play video games right? I'm sure kids wouldn't find the same faults with this game, that an adult would. Only an adult can drain the fun out of just about anything, while a kid will find fun in the most simplistic of experiences. I'm curious why all reviewers review games, like they should all appeal to an older audience. I'm not singling Tom out, because I've noticed this with all reviewers.

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toshineon

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Edited By toshineon

@darkfall_225 Most adults, and that includes me too, takes many things way too seriously.

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BrutalPandaX2

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@darkfall_225 You got that right.

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Alvan99

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I think it's a bit harsh to give this game a rating of 4. At least 6.5-7.

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moesuir

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POS 4, "The best place to play" :)

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LeMeAtOm

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Edited By LeMeAtOm

I don't want to be picky, but it sounds a little like Tom was expecting a different game, i.e. more open world and just had a chip on his should since. OK the formula may seem tired but this doesn't appear to be a game aimed at the long standing gamer, does it? perhaps this is just what it appears to be, a game simple for children or inexperienced adults wanting to pick up and play for the first time. it seems like it could fit that niche perfectly... are we raising the bar so high that we cannot see the whole picture of who we are reviewing for any more? we may be 4th generation or more but its not all 4th generation gamers we review for.... but then can we please everyone!

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Histeachn

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@LeMeAtOm Well stated.

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LeMeAtOm

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@Histeachn @LeMeAtOm unfortunately this highlights a growing bias ingrained into some experienced game reviewers, a bias built out of expectation in a world that is growing more gamers not just feeding old ones, perhaps we need some more reviewers with a fresh perspective to cater for the simpler games?

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darkfall_225

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@LeMeAtOm

Yep, couldn't agree more!

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leCarinhaLOL

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this game is wonderful.

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vscott453

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There is only room for one mindless button-masher, and it goes to dynasty warriors. LuBu FTW!!!!!!

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HesamB

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i'm sick you people picking on every reviewer for their reviews, especially tom, the game is shit, the gameplay looked like shit from the first trailer, the idea looked like shit . stop talking. just... ok ?

6 • 
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robbiejones

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@HesamB worse than bunch of women

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BradBurns

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Wow, this game is getting critically panned by just about everyone.


I'm personally still going to buy it, simply because it looks like it has heart. I'll take that even if the game is flawed.

This industry needs more soul. Ever since Japan has taken a back seat to Western developers, games have lost a ridiculous amount of warmth.

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dani_i89

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@BradBurns Lo, heart and warmth? Take it easy mother goose. This game looks hella bland...the reviewer seems to have justified his thought well...mindless corridor bashing with NO form of depth or variation? Pass.

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uglypinkmoose

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not surprised..... I was worried about the writing but it's a shame the gameplay isn't to hot either

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Xyllix

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Edited By Xyllix

Every reviewer is saying the same shit, it's poorly done. Yet everyone gives Tom shit.

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thomasmcshea

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@Xyllix

because i can take it!

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Mommas_b_o_y

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Edited By Mommas_b_o_y

Tom's review could not be more wrong. Of all the games I've tried for ps4 this is the most fun. That includes kz shadowfall, resogun,, contrast. I haven't even tried ac4 yet. I've been having too much fun with this game. True there's only one basic attack, but you can combine it with a jump attack and special moves. The combat is all about timing. dark souls had only 2 attacks. no one knocked it for that. He has a dash defensive move that when used right is great. There is a very large variety of enemies, which makes the combat even more fun. The rpg elements are great too. The relic finding system is awesome. It gives you something to look forward to when looking for hidden walls. tom must have hurried through cause he said he could only piece together one set in 9 levels. I'm on level 3 and already have almost 4 sets complete. I could go on about how intricate the graphics are and other stuff. Tom and other game "reviewers" just didn't want to like it. This is the most fun game I've played in a long time. combos tom? like dark souls huh. Anyway if you were on the fence just buy it. For a launch title, I'm blown away.

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ez054098

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@Mommas_b_o_y

I agree. This game is really fun and my kids love it.

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natalieyan

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Edited By natalieyan

gamespot also gave resident evil 6 a 4.0

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toshineon

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Edited By toshineon

@natalieyan I thought that game deserved it. It may have been a somewhat decent game on it's own, but as a Resident Evil title, I thought it sucked.

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chadwick1343

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Edited By chadwick1343

Anyone who loved old Crash Bandicoot games will LOVE this. That's my review.

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deactivated-597794cd74015

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@chadwick1343

I was too busy enjoying Rayman.

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so_hai

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THIS gets released, but more promising and similar ideas like Project HAMMER do not...

Makes you think.

It really, really, does.

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Spartan-1657

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Holy shit. This game looks awful! I was never interested in this game but MY GOD! That game should have been scrapped. Sony, you seriously want that launching with your system? This is what you want to headline a next-gen console? I even find it hard to believe that the PS3 couldn't run this.

The only reason this was released on PS4 and not PS3 is because they knew no one would buy this shit and only chance of it selling was if it was available when there's only a very limited amount of choices with software. You can't even deny that! This game would have had AWFUL sales if not released with the PS4.

How sad, I would be embarrassed to launch this! When I get my PS4, I will have absolutely no problem passing on this game.

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HowlPendragon

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Xbox Fitness ftw then?

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ExplicitMike

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What did this game do to you Tom? It looks average but a 4? That would put this as unplayable as steel battalion which got 3.5.

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Knack

First Released Nov 15, 2013
released
  • PlayStation 4

Knack is an action game for the PlayStation 4 where players take control of a creature with mysterious powers named Knack who is created to help neutralize a resurgent goblin army. Knack steps forward to protect mankind - until it becomes clear that an even greater danger is posed by elements of the human community.

4
Poor

Average Rating

185 Rating(s)

6.5
Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Everyone 10+
Fantasy Violence