Reviews// Knack

Posted 10 Dec 2013 14:43 by
Knack has had somewhat of a beating by games critics, and from the first time you boot it up you can see why.

When you have spent £350 on a new piece of gaming hardware you expect to be impressed with the software you buy to go with it. If thereís one thing Knackís not, itís impressive. In fact itís a simple platformer/brawler that isnít inspired nor will demonstrate what your new toy is capable of.

Itís not bad on the eye by any means but the art style is lacking a spark. There are moments where it looks genuinely lovely. The opening levels look great despite the characters themselves looking far too basic to raise an eyebrow.

Knack himself is a pretty terrible character. The product of ĎThe Doctorí, Knack is essentially an orb of energy that can manipulate ancient relics to create a body. The more relics Knack comes across, the more powerful he becomes.

The game is set in a world where Humans and Goblins co-exist. There have been times when the goblins have tried to attack the humans but because theyíre wilfully underpowered theyíve never been a real threat. That is until they worked out how to make guns and tanks and that.

Now the humans must develop a weapon to fight back. Viktor - our gameís lead dickhead - has created an army of robots to tackle the goblins. When they prove to be a bit shit The Doctor suggests they call Knack to the rescue and thatís where the story begins.

Itís not a terrible tale, but the game does try and force it upon you needlessly. Cutscenes are littered throughout Knack but I never really cared for any of the characters enough to make me really want to pay attention. Many times Iíd just be waiting for the game to start up again but not enough to skip the scenes themselves.

In fact the cutscenes are a bit of a problem in more ways than one. Sometimes theyíll replace gameplay with a seemingly tricky jump being taken care for out of your control and youíre left wondering why you werenít allowed to do that yourself.

Then there are the frame rate issues. Cutscenes always drop frames which actually makes them hard to watch. Itís not just in a scene either. Knackís special moves look great but when you use them to attack more than four enemies at once - which will happen regularly in the second half of the game - itíll struggle to hold things together and for such a simple looking game, on a brand new console that is far from acceptable.

The supporting cast are so straight faced too. Time after time I was waiting for some comedy to slip in, something to raise a smile but the closest it comes are puns about ice or the odd one line from the bizarre voice of the lead character. It falls flat tonally and I wish theyíd had a bit more fun along the way.

Knack isnít a bad game, far from it. Itís an uninspired one. Everything youíve seen here, youíll have seen before. From Ice levels to Lava ones. From enemies with boomerangs to huge cannons.

Nothing is new. Even when you think Knackís unique selling point is the destruction and particles, itís completely undermined by the fact that all the rubble and enemy parts that hit the floor simply disappear. Youíre not able to marvel at your destruction because there is no evidence that it existed.

However thereís no doubt that I actually had a lot of fun while playing. The combat is basic but when coupled with a group of enemies it works well. Youíll constantly question yourself on how you should approach a combat room.

Do you ignore the enemies that want to get in your face in order to take out the long range attackers first or do you deal with them while constantly avoiding arrows and bullets?
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