Knack 2 Review – Shiny and bland
Knack felt very underwhelming for a console launch title when it was released back in 2013.
While it looked the part (in spite of the odd visual glitch) playing it was an interminable slog. It wasn’t a terrible game by any standards, but players found the lion’s share of the game was taken up with button-mashing fights, thanks to a rather thin combat system.
Other than that, they spent an awful lot of time trundling through platforming levels that lacked any imagination in their design. Bluntly, Knack wasn’t a great advertisement for the PS4.
Knack 2 addresses a lot of these issues; the visuals are crisp, the combat has had some depth added to it and the platforming sections have more puzzles in them. That having been said, Knack 2 still struggles to be considered anything other than average, and that’s because it’s a very similar experience to its predecessor.
Knack 2 kicks off with the titular creature and his pals Lucas and Ryder arriving at a site filled with ancient goblin ruins. Not long after they start exploring it, the dormant robot warriors scattered about the the site start coming back to life.
After reducing a decent amount of them into spare parts, the trio of adventurers check in with Doc and an order of monks and then head out to find out what’s causing the goblin robots to reanimate. Naturally, this involves a lot of jumping and smashing of enemies.
As has been mentioned, Knack 2 has more depth to its combat mechanics than its predecessor. As players make their way their way through the levels, they’ll be able to unlock new attacks such as a power-punch and a ranged attack that ties up foes for a limited amount of time. They can also fill out an upgrade tree, which offers a new set of moves based on speed, strength and so on.
While the new moves are welcome additions, players will find themselves relying on them more and more, and so a series of unlockables meant to make combat a more varied affair end up making things just as repetitive as before.
Knack’s gimmick of being able to shrink to a pint-sized imp and then back to a towering mass of blocks at a touch of a button is back. This is mainly used in platforming – Knack’s smaller size allows him to access slender ledges and dodge threats – and in sections where players have to trundle through a series of vents. Occasionally this mechanic is used in conjunction with the odd puzzle, but they’re hardly challenging.
Players can augment Knack with certain elements in his environment, including ice, metal and glass (that gifts him stealth), but this marks the return of a mechanic from the first game. It’s hardly innovative. On top of that the Sunstone mechanic has been tweaked; now, rather than offer extra attacks, they provide a layer of protection – once again, not exactly groundbreaking stuff.
The game’s story is also underwhelming. It’s mainly a thin framework to hang uninspired levels and numerous fights on filled with characters who are at best largely forgettable and at worst obnoxious. There’s a twist in the plot, which is probably designed to give the proceedings some sort of punch, but since it’s telegraphed in one of the opening levels, it’s not much of a surprise when it arrives.
The game will take players roughly 14 or so hours to complete. Once that’s done the New Game + mode is unlocked (that allows players to replay the game keeping all the upgrades they earned), as are the Time and Coliseum modes. A two-player co-op mode rounds out the package.
So to recap, Knack 2 boasts deeper combat than its predecessor (that most players won’t bother with), an upgrade system and new collectibles (that feel like window dressing) and better platforming puzzles (that won’t challenge any Mario or Rayman veterans). Oh, the checkpoints aren’t as far apart this time, which is a big improvement.
Knack 2 Review – Verdict
So Knack 2 is essentially the same experience as the first Knack with a few bells and whistles thrown in for good measure. It’s by no means a terrible game, and if you’re after some family friendly fare, you could do worse. The problem is, you could also do a lot better and with two Lego games on the horizon, it might be worth hanging onto your money. Hey, at least it isn’t being sold at full price.
- Knack 2 was reviewed on a PS4. A digital copy was supplied by the publisher.