Review: Knack 2 (PS4)

Review: Knack 2 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • Blu-ray Disc
  • PS4 / PS4 Pro
  • HDTV / 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Knack 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (36.53 GB)
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 540 of the podcast at 115:30.
PS Nation Episode 540: A Knack Fore History

The original Knack is the first PS4 game that I ever finished, and I actually enjoyed it. Admittedly it hasn’t aged well, but I still liked what I played.

At E3 this year I had the opportunity to play the sequel for over an hour and the improvements were apparent immediately, but there was still a question regarding the larger picture. It was something that I just couldn’t judge in that kind of setting.

Gameplay:
Oddly enough, the core gameplay is pretty similar to the God of War series, but when compared to the first Knack, there are a lot more attack choices now, including a long range stun move via a very Link-ish boomerang that wraps an enemy up and can be used to smash crates that are otherwise out of reach.

You’ll now be able to perform simple punches, kicks, jump-smashes, and grabs. But new to your arsenal are stronger attacks performed by holding the attack button for a few seconds, which trigger a quick multi-punch, a strong punch and other useful moves.

Honestly these new additions coupled with abilities that can be unlocked along the way, are really what sets this game apart from the first and it has become drastically more accessible and playable. This is a significant change from the more basic punch-based attacks that you were limited to in the first one, and it’s greatly appreciated.

Combat feels a lot more fluid now and chaining attacks together is a breeze. Without the viscera, it actually did feel more akin to a God of War game the more I played it, including the few Quick Time Events placed throughout. All are wonderful to watch and easy to complete, and this is coming from someone who usually cringes at QTE’s. Movement is MUCH better than the first game as well and everything just feels much more polished.

Another complaint about the original was the story and how it was told, and that’s definitely been addressed in the follow-up. The pacing is much better and the story being told seems a lot tighter, albeit a bit corny at times, but it never wavers from the core narrative.

I enjoyed it throughout and never got to the point where I just had to stop out of frustration. Even the puzzles are somewhat challenging, but never frustrating. Controls are tight, with only a couple of depth perception challenges in some of the platform jumping.

Being able to block, and with good timing deflect, projectiles with L1 feels great. It’s a nice option to have if dashing with the right stick isn’t feasible, at least until you unlock the shoulder smash that ends a dash maneuver.

New abilities can be unlocked as you gain more XP, with a group of abilities contained in four sections of a larger tree. You have your choice of abilities to unlock to a certain extent but a new section doesn’t open until you fill the first one in. Progression feels good though and I never felt truly underpowered or “stuck” with the wrong ability at a specific time.

Visuals:
I always liked the art style of the first game and that’s definitely the foundation here, but everything has been treated with a few new coats of paint. Textures are deeper, movement and animation is better, and even the cutscenes have evolved nicely.

Also, the lighting is fantastic, with real-time shadows everywhere. You probably won’t realize it unless you go back and play the first game as it’s been almost four years since its release.

It’s obviously not something that you’d compare to an Uncharted or Horizon Zero Dawn, but the visuals are solid throughout, with the only real deficiency being how plain a couple of the city skylines appear.

You’ll see more locations as well, and every one of them is portrayed wonderfully. From lush jungles to snowy cliffs and sandy deserts, the team has given that sense of globetrotting to the player, and that helps stave off any sense of repetition.

Also, if you have a PS4 Pro, you’ll have the option to play at 60FPS locked, or in “High Resolution Mode” which is 4K which I’m sure is using checkerboarding. HDR support is available on all PS4’s, and if you have a display that can handle it, it definitely adds an additional punch to the visuals with deeper colors and some nice lighting effects.

Audio:
The voices are well done just like the first game, with sincere performances all around. Environmental sounds are great as well, especially when using headphones. But the standout is definitely the orchestral soundtrack, which reacts to the action and brings you deeper into the experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
Technically, there are no online features in Knack 2, but it does offer the rare feature of couch co-op play, so if you have a remote friend and you both have a good internet connection, Share Play is definitely a valid option.

It worked well in the first game and it does in this one as well. It can a be a lot of fun playing with someone else as we found out at E3 and a couple of your attacks even work better with two players.

Early in the game you’ll unlock a new multi-punch attack and if you’ve got a friend in the game with you and you use it on him/her, you’ll actually punch a bunch of the rune pieces out of that player, almost like a shotgun blast.

I love that they thought this stuff through and there are enough difficulty options to allow a parent to play with a younger member of the family.

Conclusion:
My fears about whether Knack 2 could remain as enjoyable throughout as the hour or so that I was able to play at E3 were definitely not warranted. It’s a different style of game that can actually be enjoyed by younger and older gamers with a good, solid challenge and experience.

Replayability is there as well for completionists that need to find every hidden item and who want to unlock all of the available abilities. On my first playthrough, I only touched the third section of abilities, with a fourth section left to be unlocked, and there are numerous items that remain to be discovered.

It’s a shame that this game probably won’t get a fair shake from gamers and reviewers though, simply because of the internet fueled stigma that the first game has earned. This is really good game that deserves to be played, and at $40 it’s definitely a deal. It took me roughly twelve hours to get through it once and I can see folks taking that journey again to find and open what remains.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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