All the pieces seemed to be in place for Knack to be one of the showpiece games for the PlayStation 4’s launch. 3D platformers helped build the PlayStation brand, and with Mark Cerny – veteran platformer designer and chief architect of the PS4 – acting as director, the required experience seemed to be covered, and then some.
But as the overall impressions of Knack began to fall more frequently into the ‘underwhelming’ category (not to mention dangerously repetitive), that optimism faltered. Now, even Sony’s Shuhei Yushida claims that the game is expected to be a “second purchase”; a game also bought by PS4 owners to play either co-op or as a family, not a platform leader.
Now the reviews have begun to pour in, claiming that Cerny’s latest platformer may be a worthwhile experience for some, but is certainly not what many had hoped it would turn out to be.
Game Informer (Matt Helgeson):
“Though it’s a launch game for a next-gen system, Knack is almost nostalgic; it’s the kind of game they don’t make that often anymore. As such, it’s not the most innovative or the most visually dazzling game… 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.”
Gamespot (Tom Mc Shea):
“The occasional platforming scenario lacks the joy of movement so necessary for jumping to be engaging, and the platform placement doesn’t require any cleverness to surpass. 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.”
Shacknews (Andrew Yoon):
“Knack may be the family-friendly option for PS4’s launch, and it may adequately serve that function… Console launches typically feature two types of games. There’s innovative genre-defining icons… and then there are the games that will be forgotten in a few months time.”
IGN (Steve Butts):
“Playing Knack is like watching a dull movie on a plane — it’s tolerable if all you want is a way to pass the time, but it’s not something you’d seek out for its own sake… Sure, some individual elements show potential, particularly when the scale of the encounters changes as Knack grows, but it never moves beyond playing it safe with the concepts or the characters.”
Joystiq (Ludwig Kietzmann):
“Knack fails to capitalize on its own ideas and structure, and is successful only as a reminder of the shallow, punishing platformers from a time when we really cared about how many bits there were on your console.”
Eurogamer (Tom Bramwell):
“Perhaps time was a factor, or perhaps Mark Cerny – the PlayStation 4 visionary who also led development of this game – is a better programmer and system architect than he is a writer and creative director. Whatever the answer, Knack isn’t the kind of game you’ll want to take home with your PlayStation 4.”
Polygon (Phil Kollar):
“The incredible imagination promised by the dawn of new hardware is on display in Knack. But the moments of payoff come too infrequently to make plodding through another three dozen frustrating enemies any less tedious.”
Destructoid (Dale North):
“Knack is still a fun romp, and definitely worth a play. It’s easy to pick up, a joy to look at, and and some of the boss battles are pretty great… It’s not the next blockbuster platformer you’d want out of a launch title, but you need a break from shooters or want something with some personality, Knack is worth a look.”
Escapist (Paul Goodman)
“Knack is a colorful, but mediocre platformer that has issues with repetitive gameplay on top of being frustratingly difficult at times... Those who enjoy platformers might find a few things to like about Knack, but don’t expect it anything ground-breaking.”
Knack is available now, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.