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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Horndawgie

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@Mommas_b_o_y Yeah well overall metacritic from people who have played it is 6.1 and professional reviewers overall is 5.7. You can keep telling yourself the game is good but the vast majority of people who HAVE played it think otherwise, including myself. Sorry.

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mercerjimmy

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So people have different opinions you can also be sorry for yourself. No need to be sorry for someone that likes it because if your smart you would realize people have different likes and dislikes.

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unaminous

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Edited By unaminous

@Horndawgie @Mommas_b_o_y

> You can keep telling yourself the game is good

Yes, that's what forming your own opinion means.

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SpiderLuke

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@Horndawgie @Mommas_b_o_y Did you like Crash Bandicoot?

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Mommas_b_o_y

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@Horndawgie @Mommas_b_o_y I could care less whether reviewers like it or not. I don't listen to movie critics either. playing it for 15 minutes on easy mode in a store isn't really the same. On hard mode it's challenging and fun for me. Whether the majority likes it doesn't matter. psn users did rate it high though. Interesting how the people who can play it rated it high...

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Nine-Eight-Nine

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Edited By Nine-Eight-Nine

@Horndawgie @Mommas_b_o_y Who cares what other people think or how someone else rates it. If another person enjoys it then so be it. It looks quite fun to me. My 8 year old boy thinks it looks great fun and I'm willing to bet that's the market Sony were aiming for with Knack. So all these scores are irrelevant.

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SpiderLuke

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Knack is not a bad game. It's Crash Bandicoot with a greater challenge.

I was so worried that I made a mistake. It was a part of the buy 2 get one free deal on Amazon, but I was trying to think of a way to sell it off before I got my system. The negative reviews really discouraged me. I just played it today and I can honestly say that I love the game. I love the challenge of it too. It reminds me of old school platformers where you tried over and over until you did it right.

I'm not sure what people were expecting out of this title. It really reminds me of a harder version of Crash Bandicoot somewhat. I feel like people were thinking this was going to be baby God of War, but that most certainly isn't the case.

This is a straight-forward plow through a level platformer and face whatever challenges lie ahead.

I feel like gamers don't want the games that used to be popular long ago, but I yearn for those. It's almost as if they expect complexity to be the evolution of the platformer. Sometimes a simple game that has a good challenge is a breath of fresh air.

Sure, the camera isn't perfect, but it surely doesn't deserve as low of scores that most sites have been giving it. I would have given it a 7.0. It's Crash Bandicoot with more spread out corridors and a greater challenge.

Again, maybe people don't want that in a genre anymore, but I know I sure do.

I hope they make Knack 2, but I fear the media outlets are stirring up so much commotion and being so discouraging that gamers will not even give the game a chance, thus crushing any and all hopes for a sequel.

I implore you, if you liked Crash Bandicoot, play this. It is not a bad game at all.

9 • 
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mercerjimmy

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Me and my family love the game also. I hope they make more like this because most games are not good clean fun for the family.

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shawnnopes

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Edited By shawnnopes

@mercerjimmyI suggest board games, you know the stuff we did as kids with the family. Also go play with sticks, and rocks, maybe make mudballs ;) Ohh the good old days. Glad I was a kid back then.

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mercerjimmy

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@shawnnopes We actually do play board games and it brings back good memories for myself also. :) I remember the good old days playing games such as Uno, Monopoly, Othello and lots of other games. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was going fishing. We still make sure to get the kids outside as often as possible either playing in the yard or going to the park.

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toshineon

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@SpiderLuke From what I've seen, this game seems alright. Not a masterpiece, but decent enough. I guess this game doesn't have enough bland environments and guns to score high, eh?

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unaminous

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@SpiderLuke I'm not sure I need Crash Bandicoot to be any harder than it already was...

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Mommas_b_o_y

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Edited By Mommas_b_o_y

@SpiderLuke I loved it. The game is done very well. I wouldn't believe these reviews/scores. On the ps4 network, it got a 4.8 out of 5. Those people have actually played it

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soaduk

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@SpiderLuke Actually it is a bad game.

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mercerjimmy

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Edited By mercerjimmy

Actually it's a great game but everyone's taste is different. Me and my daughter are having a blast but most people like the cod type games.

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Thunderborne

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Knack was one of the four games I bought along with the PS4. It's a significantly better game than Gamespot indicates. The game starts out dreadfully slow; but, as the pacing picks up, Knack grows on you and keeps you entertained, especially with the surprisingly diverse set of stages, challenging enemy encounters, and the fun ability in some sequences to grow into a Godzilla-sized Knack. My major complaint about the game is that it should expand on Knack's relic absorption with different elements more -- this alone would add so much more to the game's mechanics. Overall, I think it's more of a 6.5 game than a 4. I can see the Knack universe becoming something great with more design polish and narrative depth.

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Mommas_b_o_y

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@thunderborne I agree apart from your score. The combat is perfect. simple yet requires precise timing to master it. It's best played on hard mode. It's more of an 8. The relic system is good, but the other knacks need to be easier to unlock. 20 crystals for most of them is too much.

2 • 
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ConorHat

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"+ Well-realized environments that you want to exist in - Artificial environments and enemy interactions"


Tom, are you bi-polar? Maybe you should ask your other self that question sometime.
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calducce

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@conorhat

HAHA, I noticed that too. Most of these GameSpot reviewers don't know what the heck is going on anymore. I just come here for forums now. The reviews are worthless. Now that games are being streamed from the major platforms, I can just watch twitch and ustream to make up my mind. I don't need a jaded reviewer's opinion to help me out anymore.

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leikeylosh

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It's worst than The Last of Us, right?

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s2i2p2i2o

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Edited By s2i2p2i2o

@leikeylosh Never really cared for Last of Us. Can't really say I care much for Knack either.. about the same. (Yes I am aware that you were joking).

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jawslover

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Edited By jawslover

@leikeylosh Nope, at least this game has innovative gameplay and doesn't try desperately to feed off your emotions.

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huerito323

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The game always looked like garbage to me, don't know why PS4 fanboys always made a big deal out of it. I'm not surprised by the awful reception it's getting.

6 • 
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shiss27

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This game deserves a solid 7, if not just for the look of it alone. The level of detail is immaculate. Repetitive combat, yes, but you shouldn't expect Bayonetta type combat from a game such as this. Controls are great and level of difficult is a good balance IMO. (Mario-esque in difficulty seeing how many times I've died at the hands of Gumba like monsters). It didn't revolutionize platforming/action gaming but for a launch title it serves its purpose...showing off the extreme graphics functionality of the PS4 engine.

NEW REVIEW SCORE by SHISS27: Solid 7

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dubbmented

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@shiss27 Lol, no.

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Geminon

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@dubbmented @shiss27

lol yes. the game is a 7. mc shea is a hack.

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SpiderLuke

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Edited By SpiderLuke

@Geminon @dubbmented @shiss27 I agree it is more a 7. I love the game. Other reviewers think it's bad too. I don't understand why. I think so many people expected it to be something different. Plain and simple: Knack is Crash Bandicoot, but it is more challenging.

I feel like people don't want that anymore. I could get lost in this game for hours and happily replay it on a harder setting.

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EmericaCky2K

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I had no interest in Knack, but after reading that Tom hates it, I think I might actually give it a shot. At this point, I have realized Tom's taste in games are terrible, and anything he hates is probably good. Anything he likes is probably shit.

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SpiderLuke

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Edited By SpiderLuke

@EmericaCky2K Although I love Knack, you just sound like you want to get on Feedbackula.

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phatsanta

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@EmericaCky2K so Link between two worlds is terrible...riiiight and also metacritic gives it a 57...hmmm. I'm even ps4 fanboy but you gotta see when a game is just not up to par.

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s2i2p2i2o

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@phatsanta @EmericaCky2K Well, no. But he has a tendency to like easy games and dislike challanging games.

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s2i2p2i2o

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@phatsanta @s2i2p2i2o @EmericaCky2K Still I'd say he has a tendency to do so. Just becaue he like one challanging game doesn't make my statement untrue. Still, I could be wrong.

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phatsanta

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Edited By phatsanta

@s2i2p2i2o @phatsanta @EmericaCky2K Oh yeah for sure, I remember when he reviewed dark souls and gave it a 9.5. Your right dude he dislikes challenging games.

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291403171981

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It´s clearly a game for kids... you are a kid Tom???...emmmm .... a guess you are. Tom you must read the ESRB of the game before play and post a review.. :P .

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soaduk

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Edited By soaduk

@291403171981 So you're saying gamespot should employ kids to do reviews of bad games?

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291403171981

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@soaduk @291403171981 Yes, it´s a bad game becouse an adult mind conect the dots diferent. A kid enjoy diferent things. You aparently don´t now anything about marketing (i´m a marketing and comunication worker). You must make the trials with the "target" of your product. If you do diferent the original "target" it´s contaminated by the perspective of the "other age target". In fact i´m saying this: a good reviewer must understand the "target" of the game to do a "good review". Therefore, a "good reviewer" it´s the person who put´s himself in the shoes of the age of the "target" to enjoy the game with the perspective of that "target" (10+). In fact this is the rule of reviewing in the marketing business. Gamespot must have "perpectivers" of the age of the ESRB to make the real critic of the enjoyment of the game. So the reply to the question is: YES.

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h1221292h

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Edited By h1221292h

@291403171981 try harder please/////

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Furwings

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My review of Tom's review: 4

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shiss27

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@Furwings I actually laughed out loud upon reading this (:

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soaduk

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@shiss27 @Furwings You need to get out more.

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meedokicky

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just a random idea:

It would have been cool if it was an open world game, where you could reconstruct yourself with any elements around you. and a slow-mo trigger that enabled you to pick specific parts and use them as projectiles. Dunno if it is even possible lol

Anyway, working with particles is a pretty unique idea and I would like to see it grow, so kudos for Knack team. idk haven't played it and won't be getting a PS4 soon.

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Furwings

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Edited By Furwings

Honestly Tom doesn't know his as$ from a hole in the ground so I don't take his reviews too seriously. The fact this guy's opinion is allowed to be so influential based on his track record is astonishing to be honest.

My son and I beat the game over the weekend playing co-op. Is this game perfect? No. Is it a showpiece for the next generation of consoles? No. Is it a good game for what it is? YES. It's a bloody cartoon character action platformer. What do you want? What were you expecting? For me it's a great start to a potential franchise. With some refinement and taking some of the constructive criticism from certain reviewers, Knack 2 could be pretty good.

It's certainly not an 8 or a 9, but it's most definitely not a 4 either. That's an insult to a brilliant man Mark Cerny and the team who worked on this game for 3 years. My 8-year old really enjoyed the game as I'm sure most kids will. If this game was released in the PS1/PS2 eras - back when character platformer genre was thriving, it would've got a solid 7 or 8 I'm sure.

This is also a lesson to everyone. PLEASE never trust the opinion of just 1 person or 1 review score. Always, ALWAYS look at the average review score - in this case with Knack which is averaging almost 2 full points higher than Tom's score. But MOST importantly, just play the game for yourself before passing judgement on it.


9 • 
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jacquelineferre

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@Furwings butthurt ps4 fanboy

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calducce

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Edited By calducce

@jacquelineferre @Furwings

Calling someone a fanboy for their opinion is the last resort of a limited mind.

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toshineon

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@jacquelineferre @Furwings Not really. He made a good and well constructed argument for why he doesn't agree with the review.

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s2i2p2i2o

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@jacquelineferre @Furwings Saying that the game is something between 4 and 7 makes him a fanboy?

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SlimeSwayze

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@Furwings Agreed. The more I play it the more I realize that Tom, and a handful of other reviewers, have failed to do their job on the most fundamental level due to the fact that they've completely lost perspective on what it means to be an objective critic. I used to like Gamespot because I felt they were more critical than a lot of other publications, but they've gone beyond critical and into cynical, which is why I've lost all faith in their ability to do their jobs.

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theoriginal15

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Edited By theoriginal15

This review seems a little harsh, almost unfair in a way but it's probably best to try games for yourself before considering someone else's review. I personally enjoyed the game. I'd give it a minimum 7 (Good). Bear in mind that this is a family game, and Sony was attempting to cater to all genres at launch. The reviewer's gripe seems to be around combat. Many games have small move sets and were rated higher than Knack by GameSpot. When reading other GameSpot reviews, you would think Knack is the worse game ever. However, there is one game I recall rated lower and for good reason - Hour of Victory (XB360): 2.

Little Big Planet (PS3): 9

PaRappa the Rapper (PS): 8.5

Oddworld: Munch's Oddyssey (Xbox): 7.9

Rampage: Total Destruction (Wii): 5.7

Smuggler's Run (PS2): 8

Condemned: Criminal Origins (XB360): 8

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-JMD-

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And so, this is the first fail of the new-gen console games! This is was fast!

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theoriginal15

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Edited By theoriginal15

@-JMD- I guess it depends on who you were talking to.

All are based on a score of 10 unless otherwise noted:

Eurogamer – 4
CVG – 6
Kotaku – yes
Everyeye.it – 7
Polygon – 6
Destructoid – 7
IGN – 5.9/10
Joystiq – 1.5/5
Game Informer 8.25
Game Trailers – 5
Gamespot – 4
PlayStation Nation – 8
Games Radar – 2.5/5
Venture Beat – 70/100
PSN Nation – 8
Gamer.nl – 6.5
Rev3Games – 3/5
T3 – 3/5

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-JMD-

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@theoriginal15 Huum, for some it was a average game, for other a fail. We should expect more for the next generation. They can do a lot better.

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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

187 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