The PlayStation 5 is now in South Africa, which means we’re neck deep in next-gen titles, right? Well, not really. There are plenty of next-gen ports on the way, along with some titles ready for pre-order, but the choices for truly next-gen exclusives on the PS5 are limited at the moment. One of the titles that is on offer, for both the PS5 and PS4, is Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
Those who remember the the Little Big Planet franchise, which debuted during the heyday of the PS3, will immediately be drawn to this title, with the titular character still brimming with plenty of charm.
This platformer is far different from its side scrolling forebearer, and tries to add a layer of immersion that the other was not capable of delivering.
In some respects the developers behind this title, Sumo Digital, hit the mark perfectly, but in others, things don’t quite feel truly next-gen.
It is why SackBoy is no doubt enjoyable, but not really a must-play title at the moment, especially given its R1 200 price tag at the time of writing.
But before we deliver our full final verdict, let’s run through what’s on offer here.
In terms of storyline, Sackboy is not doing anything new. Our hero’s home of Craftworld has come under threat from a big bad named Vex, who hopes to bring his Topsy Turver machine to life and ending things for our protagonist and his fellow sack friends.
That’s really all you need to know about the lore for this game, with the rest also fellow well-walked territory for platformers at this stage.
What is of note though, is the visuals. One could easily be forgiven for thinking that because you’re not webslinging through a digital version of Manhattan or fighting off waves of demons in the cursed kingdom of Boletaria, that Sackboy is not visually compelling. Or at the very least, is not pushing any boundaries.
Sure, there are no visual settings to change up the frame rate or add ray tracing, but there really is no need for it. Environments look expertly rendered, with the cushiony and cutesy crafted world being quite endearing.
As are the different emotes and costumes you can earn for Sackboy along the way, purchasable at Zom Zom’s tents where available, with the bells you earn in game for passing levels, collecting bubbles or bashing enemies.
A little lacking
Looking at the levels, the designs are relatively straightforward, with players moving vertically up the map. You’re also incentivised to explore as much of the map as possible, with different levels of reward depending on the amount of bubbles you collect.
On the whole through, the levels are fairly easy to negotiate, with no specific increases in difficulty the further into the campaign we got. This proved a bit of a let down, as the early tutorial levels pretty much set the standard for what was to be expected as far as difficulty.
Enemies too did not prove much of a challenge, with designated areas for fights being large enough to take out targets one by one.
We were also hoping that Sumo Digital would make more of the features of the new DualSense controller as we played the PS5 version. We understand that as this game is available on both the next-gen and previous gen consoles, a unified gameplay experience is needed, but the only way in which the DualSense is utilised is the haptic feedback.
We could feel varying degrees of rumbles and vibrations, but nowhere near the variety that Astro’s Playroom did.
In fact we’d argue that the native PS5 game is a better indicator of what you can do with the DualSense controller than Sackboy is, which kind feels like a missed step given that the two titles are very similar in nature.
One advantage there is to playing this on the PS5 though, is speed. From the home screen we were into the game actually playing within 15 seconds, so long load screens and pauses have been all but obliterated.
There is a lot to enjoy with a game like Sackboy: A Big Adventure, with it proving an especially good palette cleanser following the intensity of Demon’s Souls (another PS5 launch title).
Of course, we’re talking about two completely different ends of the spectrum when it comes to difficulty here, but Sackboy does not feel challenging at all, and after a while does little to entice you to continue playing, outside of the costumes you can purchase down the line.
Seeing as it costs R1 200 right now, Sackboy is working on charm alone at the moment. Sure, there is plenty of it on offer, but that alone does not make for a rewarding experience.
We were hoping for greater difficulty and a gameplay system that leveraged the capabilities of the DualSense controller. Sadly, we got neither.
Perhaps a higher degree of difficulty for the next iteration in the franchise will do the trick?