Knack was one of my favourite PS4 launch titles back in the day. Not because it was the best game ever, but we did not have much to choose from as early adopters of Sony's new console. Still, the game offered up some great classic platforming that resonated with my inner child sitting and playing Crash Bandicoot on mute at night in fear of my mother finding out I was not sleeping.
The original Knack, however great it was, was missing some rather important checkboxes that were left unticked. The combat was dull, the story was mediocre, and the lineup exploration left much to be desired. Knack 2 has changed all this by offering a deeper combat system, a refined story, to some degree, and the levels and platforming are bigger and better than ever.
Knack 2 is a great improvement over the first game and while it is still not one hundred percent perfect there, it makes for a fantastic filler game when you need something casual to relax and play. Its co-op is even better and I recommend skipping playing it alone and perhaps playing the entire game with a friend. I played the entire game from start to finish with my niece and the best thing about the game is how easy it is for a younger gamer to pick up and enjoy. This is due to the easy-to-use control system and the simplified jumping mechanics that Knack has at his disposal.
Many games fail to make this easy for the younger gamers when it comes to platforming. Knack 2 lets you double jump and then glide a little in the air in order to keep yourself afloat. This was a saviour for my niece who relied on it to get across gaps when jumping and running gauntlets. If anything, it beats games like the LEGO series and even Skylanders when it comes to platforming, making it a perfect title to start out with for your younger gamer.
Knack 2 also expands on the original by offering specific co-op combat moves, as well as a whole new skill tree that lets you improve Knack's movement and abilities.These skills are unlocked throughout the game as you gain XP from fights and killing bugs, yes, bugs. The skill tree in a way is limited to your overall progression in the game due to the fact that you need to first unlock one tree before you can do the other, so freedom of choice is not present at all.
Still, the moves make the game feel a lot more layered when it comes to combat. Holding down square would see Knack pummel his fists in front of him bashing the enemy silly, and holding down circle would perform a giant kick in front of him dealing massive damage to an enemy. Now, throw in another player and you will be able to use these moves and take advantage of the other Knack on screen. The pummeling fist activates a burst fire when you hit the other Knack and kicking him send him flying into enemies. These attacks are exclusive to co-op and made me feel as if I had to play it with another player in order to fully experience the refined combat.
The new skill tree and combat are one of the most refreshing additions to Knack and it solved the biggest problem I had with the original game. The first Knack lacked all depth of combat and resulted in a shallow experience that saw you walk around hitting things and then move on. Knack 2 actually made me want to fight things and I hated when I was not in a combat sequence.
Knack 2 also comes with the same collectables of the original that let you search each area in the game for boxes to open and treasure to gather. You can either select the treasure you find or choose something a friend found in the same box. Collecting these parts will unlock new gadgets that grant Knack new powers and abilities. If you opt for the jewels then you could unlock a whole new Knack skin that has its own unique trait. These jewels are harder to find and perhaps would take a whole playthrough to obtain, but it is worth it in the end.
Knack 2's story is where the game needs more attention. While the game manages to keep a steady pace throughout the experience, it kind of feels as if the character development and connection between Knack and his lifelong friend Lucas is non-existent. There is a huge opportunity to grow here and create a companionship between the two. It also does not help that Knack has zero personality and his one-liners are overused and outdated.
Still, apart from its dull story and characters, Knack 2 is a great game to experience with a younger gamer. Its combat, platforming, and vibrant colour palette make for a great experience for the younger audiences. If you remotely enjoyed the original then you should give this a try too as it is a vast improvement. It is not all the way at the finish line, but it at least came second.
Available On:PS4 | Played On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 3 October 2017 | RRP: R629
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