I like the idea of Knack, a character that can grow in size by collecting various relics to become a force to be reckoned with. It’s different to most action platformer games out there, yet still feels like a challenge in some parts. However, does Knack 2 improve over the shortcomings of the first title, or is it more of the same?
You play as Knack and you must help save the world from the goblins who are trying to take over the world. Just when things seemed rosy and sweet, the world is once again under attack and Knack is here to take care of things as he always does. In fact, that’s pretty much what you were tasked with doing in the first Knack title and the sequel doesn’t deviate from that premise. This is fine though, as there is nothing more satisfying than a hack and slash, action platforming title so long as there is a little variety thrown in.
What separates Knack from other titles is his ability to change in size and grow into a force to be reckoned with. As you explore the area, smashing items and defeating enemies you collect relics that cling to your core and increase your physical size. Likewise as you are injured you continue to lose relics and reduce in size. The original title Knack had you give up these relics each time you progressed which was a little unfair. However, Knack 2 now gives you the option to drop all your relics and return to your small form when needed. In fact, this is well structured into a few early game sequences to highlight this very feature. Various puzzles and sections of the level will require Knack to be small in size in order to fit through small passage ways or walk across tiny ledges to reach areas of interest. With the simply press of a button, Knack can alter his size from large to small and vice versa.
Knack 2 also allows you to pick up more than just relics in order to increase your size. You can now beef up your armour with new materials such as ice, metal or iron. Your attack moves also change depending on what your armour is made up of, for example if you are packing a lot of ice, Knack can freeze his enemies in their tracks which was very cool. Or in the case of hauling Iron about, you can drop your relics and they’ll form a statue of Knack which can be used to weigh down switches or platforms in order to solve various puzzles which is really cool. Knack also has the ability to teleport from one area to another via teleporter panels which was a great addition.
The sequel to Knack has also had some work done in the combat department as well. Knack now consists of more than just punches and kicks and during the early stages of the game your abilities begin to expand. Knack can learn a host of new moves including flying kicks, super strong punches and body slams. As Knack plows through the enemies that cross his path, these enemies do drop small relic points which can be built up and used to upgrade various skills and perks.
Knack 2 is also rather forgiving when it comes to death thanks to its generous check pointing system. You rarely have to backtrack far in the event of death as the check point system respawns you pretty much where you left off in the majority of cases. Of note are the difficulty spikes at times where you can be completely inundated with enemies that can end your adventure quickly. Other times, the enemies are a walk in the park, its somewhat varied. You also need to employ some strategy with the enemies this time around for example electrical enemies will need to be disabled prior to attacking, and shield wielding enemies can be disarmed with a powerful punch for example. Gone are the days of just mashing the attack button with little to no thought.
One of the shortcomings of Knack 2 I felt was the depth of its story and in particular Knack as a character. Knack just seems to be there, willing to go along with any decision to smash everything to pieces. It would have been nice to learn a little more about Knack and to see Knack develop his own personality and humour throughout the game. Knack literally feels like a bulldozer with nothing more to offer than his brute strength which is good in some ways, but I wish I could have bonded with Knack more than what has been presented here. Another point to note was knack’s human counterparts who seemed to teleport to the end goal whilst Knack braves caverns, ravines, cliffs and more to meet up at the same point down the line. Perhaps Knack should have just followed the others? I just felt it was a little lazy on the developer’s part to not include the main human characters in the adventure as well, perhaps have them stand on switches and work together to solve puzzles.
For the first time in the series Knack 2 offers you the ability to play the game in co-op mode. This will essentially involve two controllers of course and there will be two Knack characters on the screen, controlled by each respective player. As with most co-op modes, you tend to be pulled back together in the event of one player triggering a checkpoint ahead of the other, it essentially warps you forward. I personally didn’t spend a lot of time in this mode but from what I experienced it seemed fun and a great idea especially if you have a younger player who wants to tag along for the experience.
Graphics & Sound
Knack 2 is glorious in terms of its visuals, with lovely detailed environments and some excellent looking cut scenes as well. The level design is far better and is filled with colourful backdrops, plus the various enemies have also been given a solid touch up as well. I had no issues regarding any frame rate drops and also found the option for HDR mode to really add to the overall visual experience. There is clearly a marked improvement over the first title which is great to see.
Knack 2 takes what was lacking with the original title and improved on it immensely. Knack 2 feels far more polished and is more enjoyable to play. With the option for co-op play, new moves and bigger environments you’ll have a blast smashing your way to victory with Knack 2.