For the most part, Sackboy: A Boy Adventure often felt as if I was playing a collection of fantastic levels made in LittleBigPlanet. It is hard to not see the inspiration in every scene as Craftworld has been carefully created with the utmost attention to detail. There’s a lot of clear inspiration here from games such as Super Mario 3D World and other 3D platformers. However, the LittleBigPlanet universe allows Sackboy: A Boy Adventure freedom to add its own flair to the saturated genre. As a result, the game makes for a fun time not only when running through the dozens of levels alone but even better when you have someone by your side through couch co-op.
Sackboy: A Boy Adventure follows the story of everyone’s favourite sack, Sackboy who gets whisked away on an adventure after a mad man named Vex kidnaps all of Craftworld’s inhabitants. Sackboy is the only one that can save them from a life of working under his rule. Vex has also summoned evil little critters which are now scattered throughout Craftworld and summoned darkness that inhabits the land.
Instead of giving me the tools to play, create, and share, Sackboy: A Boy Adventure is all about playing. The game spans dozens of wonderful levels which all offer some fantastic surprises and challenges. Sackboy has also undergone some tweaks to his abilities. He can grab, which is nothing new, but he can also hit enemies, jump and flutter in the air a bit, roll and slam his head into the ground. While the variety of abilities may lack a bit, it is more than enough to carry him through all the levels which have been crafted to make use them all.
Not to mention, some stages also have a range of powerups to pick up and use too. This includes a boomerang and some returning favourite like the grapple hook. While none of this ever gets too complicated the best part of the entire set of skill and items is just how easy they are to get the hang of. As soon as I picked up the boomerang, I knew I could throw it to not only hit enemies but to blow up spikey balloons which could not get slapped. The grappling hook immediately delivered a satisfying swing across gaps by latching onto sponges. It never felt overwhelming or complicated to use.
This is all thanks to the fantastic level design in every stage. Often, it felt as if someone sat there and handcrafted each one. The overall art style is also true to the LittleBigPlanet series which means everything is made up of nick-nacks and average household items. Snakes are hosepipes, platforms are cardboard and wood, and enemies are a combination of little trinkets. It makes the entire experience feel authentic and you can see the amount of effort put in across the game.
Whenever I thought the game hit a wall, a new level came along to spring it back to life. Some are short and sweet but offer some joyous rollercoaster rides down water slides or running away from a moving camera. Others were levels made around a popular song such as Uptown Funk. These levels were the highlight of the game for me. Every single object moved to the beat of the song. Be it a monkey sticker bobbing its head up and down or the perfectly-timed bounce pad that replicated the drum solo. It was the little things like this that made the repetitive nature of the game disappear.
Levels can get a little tough. Later stages require precision timing, knocking loads of enemies away and often dealing with all the challenges at once. The game is no walk in the park especially during the trials which challenged me to leap over enemies while collecting clocks to reduce a timer I had to beat. However, I loved every single level no matter how frustrating they often got.
Because it is a platformer, of course, there’s also a load of things to collect. Every stage has a range of cosmetic items to find to dress Sackboy up in. There are also three or five blue orbs to find in order to unlock a sticker for the album. The point bubbles are also back and they count towards a score that you need to reach in order to unlock even more cosmetics items. This meant every stage I went into, I became obsessed with finding all the goodies and avoiding death as to prevent my score from dropping. It is every completionist’s dream. It also helps that you don’t have to actually complete it all at one go. I can miss the gold score total and collect all the blue orbs and come back to complete the missed objectives.
Levels are also short and sweet with most of them taking 10 minutes at max. I never worried too much if I missed something because it was not a major time issue either.
Throughout the game, I found golden bells I could use to purchase costumes from Zom Zom. This over eccentric merchant sold a range of cool costumes for Sackboy. They are quite a price and fit the world’s current theme. The underwater world had a Bioshock-like diver outfit while the jungle had a fluffy caterpillar. These costumes are fun to unlock and wear. Anyone who has played LittleBigPlanet will appreciate the cosmetic system in Sackboy: A Boy Adventure as making Scakboy look crazy and cute is half the fun.
While the game progresses at one-note pace, the gameplay combined with the awesome level design makes Sackboy: A Boy Adventure pure joy to play. Every world had a boss fight and loads of hidden pathways to complete. There are also specific co-op stages that rely on teamwork. Unfortunately, there is no online play at the moment which is a shame. Sumo Digital claims they plan on adding it soon in a free update. I hope they do because finding an extra DualSense controller to play couch co-op with is an expensive challenge during the launch of the PS5.
The DualSense offered some fun ways to experience the game too. Grabbing an item, for example, filled the bottom of a trigger which kind of gave me the feeling that I had it in my hand. There’s also a load of haptic vibrations that are fun to feel. The game also makes great use of 3D audio which was great on the PS5 3D Pulse Headset in so many ways.
It took 25 hours to complete Sackboy: A Boy Adventure which is a big game. Considering every stage has a unique experience to offer is quite an impressive feat. I will most likely go back and collect everything just to play some of the best levels again. Anyone who is a fan of the series, this game is fantastic and makes for a nice break away from the creative mode that the previous games relied on.
This Sackboy: A Boy Adventure review was based on a code sent to us by Sony
Available On: PS4, PS5 | Reviewed On: PS5 | Release Date: 12 November | Price: R1,225
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