Knack (video game)
European box art
|Developer(s)||SCE Japan Studio|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Genre(s)||Platformer, beat 'em up|
Knack is a platforming beat 'em up video game developed by SCE Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 video game console. The game was released in November 2013 and in Japan in February 2014, where it was available as a bundle with the console.
The player navigates the titular character Knack through a series of levels viewed in a fixed camera, third-person-style view. Knack is a living humanoid organism that consists of Relics; a large central Relic is always surrounded by a varying amount of smaller Relics. Knack utilizes crystal relic powers, jumping, dodging, stealth and punching, in order to progress through the colourful environments, which are populated with enemies. The story follows Knack and his creator on a journey to save humankind from a species known as the Goblins. However, one of Knack's creator's former friends goes rogue. Knack and his allies must stop the antagonist's evil plans.
Upon release, Knack was met with a mixed critical response; reviewers praised the game's original concept and ideas, but criticized the gameplay and story.
Knack is a platforming beat 'em up game in which player's control the title character, Knack. Game director Mark Cerny describes the gameplay as "a little bit like Crash Bandicoot, and a little bit like Katamari Damacy", with "a touch of God of War in there". Players control Knack through a series of long, linear levels, journeying from start to finish, while battling enemies, such as humans, robots, and vehicles, finding secret hidden objects that give Knack upgrades, climbing, destroying objects, completing jumping and switch-based puzzles, and continuing through the story. The perspective in which the game is played is similar to that in the God of War games. Players only control Knack and do not control the camera. The camera follows Knack in a combination of third-person and 2.5D angles.
Players guide Knack through many levels in many different locations. Each location is different and players follow the objectives played out in the story. The environments are brightly coloured, consisting of bright and vibrant greens, oranges, blues, and greys. Locations visited in the game include mineshafts, forests, factories, mansions, gardens, mountains, cities, laboratories, castles, rock formations, and caves. Gameplay is focused on brawling fighting combat and platforming.
Knack is essentially a large relic which attracts many small relics to itself to create a living organism. Knack varies in size; he can be the size of a human child when only a few relics are incorporated around the big relic, the size of a gorilla when a moderate amount of relics are incorporated, or the size of small skyscrapers when a very large amount of relics are used. Knack has different abilities for each of his states, even though the player primarily utilizes punching, jumping, and dodging abilities; a small Knack jumps higher, moves faster, and is weak, breaking in a small amount of hits, while a large Knack can walk over enemies to defeat them, and pick up or break large objects, such as vehicles and buildings. Apart from the relics, Knack can surround the large central relic with ice, metal, wood, and other substances. Knack gains new abilities from level to level. Knack may use Crystal Relics to unleash powerful tornado attacks, lift up cars or buildings in his large form, and use specific objects involved in the story. Knack's voice also changes with his size; Knack's voice is nonexistent when in his smallest form, while in his largest form, his voice is deep, loud, and intimidating.
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2015)|
War has been brought against mankind by a resurgent species known as Goblins, led by Gundahar. Dr. Vargas studied ancient relics from a long lost civilization for many years, and has found a way to bind them together and give them consciousness. The result is Knack, a creature with mysterious powers. He can incorporate more relics into his body as he finds them, which allows him to transform from a three-foot tall creature into a gigantic wrecking machine. Dr. Vargas believes that Knack will be an invaluable asset in the war against the Goblins, until it becomes clear that an even greater danger is posed by elements of the human community.
Development and release
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2013)|
Knack was originally envisioned as the PlayStation 4 equivalent of a Crash Bandicoot title. Knack was the first PS4 game officially shown off to the public. Sony Computer Entertainment decided to do this because they wanted to prove that the PS4's launch lineup did not exclusively consist of big-budget first-person shooters. Because of Knack's intentional similarities to the successful Crash Bandicoot series, Sony Computer Entertainment felt it would be a smart business decision to heavily market Knack as an essential PS4 title. However, some critics questioned this decision, mainly because of the fact that this business tactic has been employed by Sony before. Knack was released in China as Knack's Adventure at the Playstation 4's launch on March 20, 2015.
To promote the launch of the game, Sony Computer Entertainment and Japan Studio released a free mobile game called Knack's Quest on November 6, 2013. The game is a tile-matching puzzle game for iOS and Android devices. The game allows connectivity with players' PlayStation Network accounts to unlock special relics within the main game.
Steve Butts of IGN gave the game a 5.9 out of 10 praising the concept and the hero but criticizing the gameplay and the story by saying "Knack's shifting size is a great idea that never really grows into anything substantial". Tom McShea of GameSpot gave the game a poor rating of 4.0 out of 10 praising some elements of the game, such as the environments, but also criticizing the story and the gameplay. McShea said "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.". Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer gave Knack a 4/10, criticising the lack of depth in the gameplay and the checkpoint balancing. Bramwell stated that "Knack isn't the kind of game you'll want to take home with your PlayStation 4. I'm all in favour of games that transport us back to the good old days of vibrant originality, but Knack simply doesn't."
On the other hand, Game Informer's Matt Helgeson gave the game an 8.25/10, stating that it's "not the most innovative or the most visually dazzling game. This won't be the one you put in to show off your new console to your friends. However, when you're done with the prettied-up versions of the big franchises, you'll find yourself wanting to return to Knack. It's got charm and heart, and offers a whole lot of good gameplay. Ultimately, that's still what's important - no matter which generation we're in." The Financial Post's Chad Sapieha tells that "even with its not-quite-fully-delivered-upon promise – [Knack] may still be worth picking up." and gave it a 7.5/10.
Destructoid's Dale North gave it a 7/10 and calls it "A fun romp, and definitely worth a play. It's easy to pick up, a joy to look at, and some of the boss battles are pretty great. My recommendation is that you take it in smaller doses, or try out the drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, which will definitely help when the going gets tough." VentureBeat's McKinley Noble also gave Knack a 70 out of 100, calling it "a solid adventure with some surprising care put into a lot of elements that most games take for granted", but lamenting the game's limited combat, linear gameplay, and shallow technical polish. In Japan, Famitsu scored the game 28/40 in its PlayStation 4 launch issue in February 2014. Knack sold 322,083 copies on its first two days on sale in Japan as a pack-in game.
Sony's Shuhei Yoshida expressed disappointment at Knack's critical reception, hoping the game would receive scores in the mid-70s. However, he emphasised that Knack was "not the type of game reviewers would score high for the launch of a next-gen system" and instead, the game was a message that the PlayStation 4 was "not just trying to cater only to the hardcore".
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- Sapieha, Chad (November 13, 2013). "PS4's Family-friendly Knack is a good start with room to grow". Financial Post. Postmedia Network. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
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