Knack (video game)

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Knack
Knack.jpg
European box art
Developer(s) SCE Japan Studio
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s) Mark Cerny
Producer(s) Yusuke Watanabe
Artist(s) Yoshiaki Yamaguchi
Writer(s) Mark Cerny
Composer(s) Matthew Margeson
Wataru Hokoyama
Platform(s) PlayStation 4
Release
  • NA: November 15, 2013
  • EU: November 29, 2013
  • JP: February 22, 2014
Genre(s) Platformer, beat 'em up
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Knack is a platforming beat 'em up video game developed by SCE Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 video game console. The game was released in November 2013 and in Japan in February 2014, where it was available as a bundle with the console.

The player navigates the titular character Knack through a series of levels viewed in a fixed camera, third-person-style view. Knack is a living humanoid organism that consists of Relics; a large central Relic is always surrounded by a varying amount of smaller Relics. Knack utilizes jumping, dodging, punching, and using enhanced energy-based powers, in order to progress through the colourful environments, which are populated with enemies. The story follows Knack and his creator on a journey to save humankind from a species known as the Goblins. However, one of Knack's creator's former friends goes rogue. Knack and his allies must stop the antagonist's evil plans.

Upon release, Knack was met with a mixed critical response; reviewers praised the game's original concept and ideas, but criticized the gameplay, level of difficulty, and story. A sequel, Knack II, was announced at the 2016 PlayStation Experience, and was released on September 5, 2017.

Gameplay

A gameplay screenshot of Knack

Knack is a platforming beat 'em up game in which player's control the title character, Knack. Game director Mark Cerny describes the gameplay as "a little bit like Crash Bandicoot, and a little bit like Katamari Damacy", with "a touch of God of War in there".[1] Players control Knack through a series of long, linear levels, journeying from start to finish, while battling enemies, such as humans, robots, and vehicles, finding secret hidden objects that give Knack upgrades, climbing, destroying objects, and completing jumping and switch-based puzzles.[2] The perspective in which the game is played is similar to that in the God of War games. Players only control Knack and do not control the camera. The camera follows Knack in a combination of third-person and 2.5D angles.[3][4]

Players guide Knack through many levels in many different locations. Each location is different and players follow the objectives played out in the story. The environments are brightly coloured, consisting of bright and vibrant greens, oranges, blues, and greys. Locations visited in the game include mineshafts, forests, factories, mansions, gardens, mountains, cities, laboratories, castles, rock formations, and caves. Gameplay is focused on brawling fighting combat and platforming.[3]

Knack is essentially a large Relic which attracts many small Relics to itself to create a living organism. Knack varies in size; he can be the size of a human child when only a few Relics are incorporated around the big Relic, the size of a gorilla when a moderate amount of Relics are incorporated, or the size of small skyscrapers when a very large amount of Relics are used. Knack has different abilities for each of his states, even though the player primarily utilizes punching, jumping, and dodging abilities; a small Knack jumps higher, moves faster, and is weak, breaking in a small amount of hits, while a large Knack can walk over enemies to defeat them, and pick up or break large objects, such as vehicles and buildings. Apart from the Relics, Knack can surround the large central Relic with ice, metal, wood, and other substances. Knack may use the energy absorbed from Sunstones to unleash powerful tornado attacks, shockwaves, and projectiles. Knack gains new abilities from level to level; for example he can lift up and throw cars in his large form, and use specific objects involved in the story. Knack's voice also changes with his size; Knack's voice is nonexistent when in his smallest form, while in his largest form, his voice is deep, loud, and intimidating.[2][5]

Plot

In a futuristic society, humanity has progressed in technological advances by harvesting the energy from Relics, physical remnants of a long-lost civilization. Humans are reviled by the more-primitive Goblin species, who years ago had waged war upon them but ended up being driven from their cities and forced to live in the wilds.

After Goblins overrun a fortified human outpost in the Highland Crags using tanks, an emergency meeting is held in Newhaven to learn how the Goblins acquired such weaponry. Ryder, an explorer, volunteers for an expedition, joining Viktor, a billionaire industrialist, and his head of security, Katrina, backed by their force of security robots. Doctor Vargas demonstrates his newest creation, "Knack", an organism consisting of a number of Relics, with the ability to control his size. Knack, the doctor, and his assistant and Ryder's nephew, Lucas, consequently partake. The group trace the weapons to a goblin fortress, controlled by the chieftain, Morgack, who attacks them. Knack overwhelms his soldiers and defeats Morgack, who reveals that a goblin named Gundahar gave the weapons to him. Viktor double-crosses the others by kidnapping Lucas, forcing the doctor and Knack to follow him, while Ryder questions Morgack. Gundahar later arrives, forcing Ryder to escape.

At his palace, Viktor unveils one of many giant relics in his possession, which he intends to use to usher the world into a new technological revolution. The trio manage to flee Viktor, investigating the relics, and discover a map of Trogdo Mine they had been unearthed from, which illustrates a blocked door leading to an area containing even larger relics. At the mine, where excavations have awoken ancient creatures known as Guardians, Knack fails in his attempt to open the door. Viktor and Katrina corner them and order Knack destroyed; he is shot and falls down a shaft, entering an ancient cavern where he is ejected by Guardians and lands in front of a castle owned by Viktor. At the same time, Vargas and Lucas are imprisoned in the castle, where Vargas tells of his past love, Charlotte, whom he had met twenty years ago, the two bonding over their work. Whilst both underground, an earthquake had occurred and Charlotte fell into a chasm. Despite searching for weeks, Vargas could find no trace of her and gave up. Ryder tracks and rescues Vargas and Lucas with the help of Knack, but Viktor and Katrina escape again.

A Goblin army led by Gundahar invades Ryder’s hometown. The trio fashion relics containing trackers for the goblins to collect in order to find their base of operations. Knack counters the assault, forcing Gundahar to leave. Tracking the goblins, they reach a factory manufacturing weapons. Vargas is met by an-alive Charlotte, who had been found by Gundahar and nursed back to health, and in return created the arms for him in order to combat rival goblin factions. Once achieved, Gundahar turned to attacking human settlements, but Charlotte stopped production upon her discovery. Ashamed, she refuses to leave with Vargas. Knack destroys the factory’s weapon stores. He finds Gundahar, but the goblin flees and forces Charlotte to repair the armaments or else be cast out. Disturbed, Charlotte sends a message to Vargas, begging him to save her.

In the Barren Wastes, following Ryder's prior discovery of it, the group enter a temple containing a mural of the door in Trogdo Mine; it depicts the key which resides beneath Obelisk Mountain, but warns of a great danger that lies beyond the door. Having secretly bugged Lucas, Viktor and Katrina listen in and leave for their destination. Inside the mountain, the group are caught by the two, but Knack blocks them off by causing a cave-in. Lucas prevents Knack from taking the key, reminding them of the warnings; they attempt to destroy it instead, but Katrina takes it using a mech, triggering a volcanic eruption. Knack fights Katrina and breaks the mech, where she inadvertently falls towards the lava below. Believing her to be dead, Viktor prepares to leave with the key. Ryder sights Katrina, having landed on a piece of floating rubble, and stays behind in an attempt to save her. Vargas, Knack, and Lucas manage to board the airship.

The three presume Ryder dead following an explosion in the mountain. Vargas receives Charlotte’s message and sets the airship to fly over Gundahar’s factory. They locate Viktor, who is enraged at their involvement in Katrina’s apparent demise, and ejects them from the ship, though Knack saves Vargas and Lucas. They reunite with Charlotte at the factory and leave in her aircraft. Viktor succeeds in opening the door in Trogdo Mine, revealing an ancient chamber containing an orb, which disintegrates him. Immediately, the area and numerous Guardians emerge from out of the ground. Charlotte’s ship is damaged, forcing them to land, and Knack leaves to confront the orb. He reaches it as it attaches itself to a nearby Guardian, which Knack battles, destroying the orb. The source eradicated, the expanse of stonework recedes back underground.

A thanksgiving parade is held for them in Newhaven, where Knack, Vargas, and Lucas receive medals. Vargas thanks Knack for his contribution, Lucas for his wisdom, and Ryder for his sacrifice.

At night, Ryder walks across a desert carrying Katrina, moving towards the lights of the city.

Development and release

Knack was envisioned as the PlayStation 4 equivalent of a Crash Bandicoot title. Knack was the first PS4 game shown to the public. Sony Computer Entertainment decided to do this because they wanted to prove that the PS4's launch lineup did not exclusively consist of big-budget first-person shooters. Because of Knack's intentional similarities to the successful Crash Bandicoot series, Sony Computer Entertainment felt it would be a smart business decision to heavily market Knack as an essential PS4 title. However, some critics questioned this decision, mainly because of the fact that this business tactic has been employed by Sony before.[6]

To promote the launch of the game, Sony Computer Entertainment and Japan Studio released a free mobile game called Knack's Quest on November 6, 2013. The game is a tile-matching puzzle game for iOS and Android devices. The game allows connectivity with players' PlayStation Network accounts to unlock special Relics within the main game.[7]

Knack was released in China as Knack's Adventure at the PlayStation 4's launch on March 20, 2015.

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 54/100[8]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 7/10[9]
Eurogamer 4/10[10]
Game Informer 8.25/10[11]
GameSpot 4/10[12]
GamesRadar+ 2.5/5 stars[13]
GameTrailers 5.0/10[14]
IGN 5.9/10[15]
VentureBeat 70/100[16]

Knack received a mixed critical reception, with aggregate review website Metacritic assigning the game 54/100.[8]

Steve Butts of IGN gave the game a 5.9 out of 10 praising the concept and the hero but criticizing the gameplay and the story by saying "Knack's shifting size is a great idea that never really grows into anything substantial".[15] Tom McShea of GameSpot gave the game a poor rating of 4.0 out of 10 praising some elements of the game, such as the environments, but also criticizing the story, gameplay, and "surprisingly high" difficulty. McShea said "There's not one element of Knack to rally around, to excite you. And without that special something, Knack crumbles just like its piecemeal protagonist.".[12] Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer gave Knack a 4/10, criticising the lack of depth in the gameplay and the checkpoint balancing. Bramwell stated that "Knack isn't the kind of game you'll want to take home with your PlayStation 4. I'm all in favour of games that transport us back to the good old days of vibrant originality, but Knack simply doesn't."[10]

On the other hand, Game Informer's Matt Helgeson gave the game an 8.25/10, stating that it's "not the most innovative or the most visually dazzling game. This won't be the one you put in to show off your new console to your friends. However, when you're done with the prettied-up versions of the big franchises, you'll find yourself wanting to return to Knack. It's got charm and heart, and offers a whole lot of good gameplay. Ultimately, that's still what's important - no matter which generation we're in."[11] The Financial Post's Chad Sapieha tells that "even with its not-quite-fully-delivered-upon promise – [Knack] may still be worth picking up." and gave it a 7.5/10.[17]

Destructoid's Dale North gave it a 7/10 and calls it "A fun romp, and definitely worth a play. It's easy to pick up, a joy to look at, and some of the boss battles are pretty great. My recommendation is that you take it in smaller doses, or try out the drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, which will definitely help when the going gets tough."[9] VentureBeat's McKinley Noble also gave Knack a 70 out of 100, calling it "a solid adventure with some surprising care put into a lot of elements that most games take for granted", but lamenting the game's limited combat, linear gameplay, and shallow technical polish.[16] In Japan, Famitsu scored the game 28/40 in its PlayStation 4 launch issue in February 2014.[18] Knack sold 322,083 copies on its first two days on sale in Japan as a pack-in game.[19]

Sony's Shuhei Yoshida expressed disappointment at Knack's critical reception, hoping the game would receive scores in the mid-70s. However, he emphasised that Knack was "not the type of game reviewers would score high for the launch of a next-gen system" and instead, the game was a message that the PlayStation 4 was "not just trying to cater only to the hardcore".[20]

Sequel

In December 2016, Sony announced Knack II at the PlayStation Experience event.[21] It was released in September 2017 and received better reviews.

References

  1. ^ Mark Cerny (2013-02-20). "Knack – A Brand New Platformer for PlayStation 4". US PlayStation Blog. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b Parish, Jeremy. (July 26, 2013). "What Does Knack Say About PlayStation 4?". Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Collectible Locations". IGN. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Moriarty, Colin. (June 26, 2013). "PS4 Exclusive Knack Is Ten Hours Long". IGN. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  5. ^ "A deeper look at the world of Knack". (October 18, 2013). PlayStation Blog. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "Shuhei Yoshida: Knack was pitched as 'Crash Bandicoot for PS4'". Polygon. April 10, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  7. ^ "How Knack’s unlockable gadgets work" (November 29, 2013). PlayStation.Blog. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Knack for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b North, Dale (November 13, 2013). "Review: Knack". Destructoid. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Bramwell, Tom (November 13, 2013). "Knack review". Eurogamer. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Helgeson, Matt (November 13, 2013). "Bringing Old-School Platforming To Next-Gen". Game Informer. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b McShea, Tom (November 13, 2013). "Knack Review". GameSpot. CBC Interactive. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ Cooper, Hollander (November 13, 2013). "Knack review". GamesRadar. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Knack Review". GameTrailers. November 13, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Butts, Steve (November 13, 2013). "Knack Review". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Noble, McKinley (November 13, 2013). "PS4 platformer Knack is a fun adventure that fails to think big (review)". VentureBeat. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ Sapieha, Chad (November 13, 2013). "PS4's Family-friendly Knack is a good start with room to grow". Financial Post. Postmedia Network. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Famitsu Does The Expected, Scores PS4 Launch Titles Highly". PSLS. February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  19. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (26 February 2014). "The biggest selling PS4 game during the console's first two days out in Japan?". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  20. ^ James Brightman (2013-11-14). "PS4: "The beginning of a new era of PlayStation"". Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  21. ^ Goldfarb, Andrew (2016-12-03). "PSX 2016: Knack 2 announced". IGN. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 

External links

  • Official website
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