When I first acquired my PlayStation 4, I was pleased to see that instead of a racing game or some military shooter, the game that came WITH my PlayStation just happened to be Knack. Knack seemed like Sony’s attempt at creating a new mascot character, but the more I played it, the more I fell in love with the concept of Knack and his abilities. When I finished the original Knack, I was super hopeful that there would be a sequel but I was disappointed to find that other people had a more lukewarm reception. I am greatly pleased that the developers decided to create Knack 2 and fix some of the more lackluster parts of the original.
Knack 2 was designed with both gamers and families in mind. There are a variety of difficulties to suit any skill level, and the controls are accessible to all sorts of players as well. In addition, Knack 2 was designed to be played either alone, or with two players. Players can drop in or out at any time, and the co-op gameplay is designed to supplement the already robust new combat system. Also, there are puzzles designed specifically for two players so that playing with another person adds unique gameplay sequences and extra incentive to play with friends.
This time around, Knack’s combat system has been overhauled, giving Knack more moves than he had in the first game. In Knack 2, Knack has over 20 combat moves at his disposal, from flying kicks to body slams, and more that you can acquire as you progress through the game. Knack 2 is as much a platformer as it is an action game, so the gameplay has been reworked to balance exploration, platforming, and the all-new combat system.
In Knack 2, you are placed back into the role of Knack as he works to protect the human world from a new mechanical threat. This time around you can collect sunstone crystals to provide a barrier that mitigates damage; additionally, you can collect relics which will help Knack grow in size. At any time you can shrink Knack down to his small size to explore smaller tunnels, and then reform Knack, so he can fight properly. As Knack grows (or shrinks) in size, his health bar changes accordingly. A bigger Knack has more health and can sustain more damage. A smaller Knack is weaker but can navigate smaller areas more easily. At times, shrinking to smaller Knack can help you avoid attacks from large enemies.
The combat isn’t without its problems, mainly in that the timing for some attacks can be hard to telegraph and block, while at times the game throws cheap shots your way, causing you to take unavoidable damage. Other than that, the combat is a large step up from Knack’s origins, and is very polished.
Unlike the original game, Knack 2 provides a skill tree to help you expand Knack’s skills. Using blue relic energy (collected from treasure chests or defeating enemies), you can unlock nodes on his skill tree to provide new abilities or enhance other already acquired ones. There are 100 treasure chests in Knack 2, and some provide gadget pieces that can also (when completed) enhance Knack’s abilities.
In addition to the hidden treasure chests, there are small boxes hidden around that provide Relic energy and large treasure chests are hidden in the environment. They are so well hidden that it takes a great attention to detail in order to find them all. If you are connected to the PlayStation Network, you can pick your reward based on either what you found in the chest, OR what other players found. This helps when you are looking for the last piece of a gadget, or if you find that a friend found parts for a gadget you really want.
A returning mechanic from Knack 2 is the mechanic of Knack having various transformations. For instance, Metal Knack can be acquired by breaking metal ores and will allow you to use a sort of grappling function. During a transformation, Knack doesn’t take damage; instead, any damage incurred will affect the duration of your transformation. These transformations don’t have time limit durations; they are more like overshields that will deplete upon damage. For example, enemies with fire attacks will damage Ice Knack and cause his transformation to well…melt, and become normal Knack again.
The return of transformations usually comes with new mechanics. Ice Knack can freeze switches (and enemies), for example. Between finding ways to utilize these new mechanics and searching for well-hidden secrets, Knack 2 is FULL of content. From finding all the pieces to the gadgets to getting crystal shards from chests to unlock various versions of Knack (each with different abilities), there is plenty for completionists to sink their teeth into.
Each chapter also has challenge missions that provide Knack Medals upon completion. You can only undergo these challenges after completing the chapter during the main storyline. Going back and getting things you may have missed (and doing the challenges) becomes very important if you want to get everything.
My only complaint with Knack 2 as a whole is its reliance on Quick-Time-Events. QTE’s are present in every chapter, and while they are fairly forgiving, I can’t help but wonder if we have come to a point in the gaming industry where they aren’t really necessary anymore. With that being said, I have played many games with harder, more frustrating QTE’s, so I can’t really complain too much beyond how frequent they are in Knack 2.
Knack 2 is visually stunning, with great graphics that are optimized for the Playstation 4 Pro and 4K televisions. Additionally, Knack 2 plays at 60 FPS and is a feast for the eyes, even if you don’t have a 4K television. The soundtrack for Knack 2 is also very pleasing; it has an epic quality to it that enhances the adventure that much more.
Knack 2 is a great successor. It brings back parts of the original that were fun for players (such as the transformations, puzzles, and collectibles,) and adds new combat and gameplay mechanics that make the experience even more addicting and enjoyable. I really hope that Knack continues to be a part of Sony’s lineup, as there are very few games like it on the market. If you want something you can enjoy on your own, with kids, friends or family, give Knack 2 a try. All ages and skill levels are sure to enjoy it.
A review copy of Knack 2 was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the purpose of this review.