After the absolute ball I had with Knack a few weeks ago I decided that it was time to check out Knack II. With Knack being one of the first exclusives for the PlayStation 4 as well as a whole new IP it was a gamble for Sony. It paid off ultimately as Knack is enjoyed in certain circles. Receiving generally favourable reviews from critics and being a callback to old-school platforming I was interested in playing it when it became free on the PS Plus. We here at GamEir also received a review code for Knack II so I knew I had to begin the journey at the very beginning.
Once that was done I started up Knack II and loved that SIE Japan Studio had seemingly listened to issues players had from the first game and had implemented (to varying degrees of success) measures to fix these chinks in Knack’s armour. At first glance, there is a clear improvement with the graphics of the world Knack inhabits. Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword the reason being that the graphical improvement did not mesh with the artistic designs of the human characters. There was an uncanny valley scenario that carried through the entire game and though I got used to it every time I came back to Knack II I was reminded of this horrifying world filled with Chucky styled humans.
The gameplay has also received a nice, neat overhaul with Knack gaining several abilities that up the variety of actions he can perform. The simplest (yet oddly satisfying) change is that Knack can now switch between his miniature size and bigger sizes at any time. It makes the player feel in much more control of Knack and his actions. Another strange inclusion is Knack can kick so there are a few combos that be mixed up to devastating effect. With the punching and the kicking Knack II has also now including a skill tree allowing players to gain energy to power up moves as well as introduce further combos to his arsenal. It makes every battle in Knack II a real treat to engage in. Knack can now perform flips, elongated punches, and grabs to create a multitude of attacks. The newest inclusion to Knack II though that further enhances the experience is the local co-op. The two players split Knack into two Knack’s one composed of red relics and the other of blue. The two can team up and unleash devastating combos on the enemy utilising variants of the combos you learn throughout the game. It adds a great team dynamic and the game keeps this going with changing the gameplay mechanics ever so slightly to accommodate the new player.
This also carries over with the various forms that Knack can still transform into. This time however the new forms come with new abilities instead of just one mode. A fun quirk is when you transform out of your transformed state, whether it be one of the many metallic forms or the ice form a statue is created that shows off Knack striking quite the pose. It is adorable and adds an impressive charm to the game. It even serves a purpose for puzzles so adding the charming statue aspect is unnecessary but appreciated. The world of Knack is still lush and brimming with character, the enemies are varied and imaginative and the world now seems to be inhabited by people meaning the world feels properly lived in. It’s little touches like this that add to the overall enjoyment of the game.
The treasure-seeking element from the previous game is still there but it has been improved on meaning you’ll get equipable items far faster but it still feels unnecessary. Getting items after building the parts over the course of the game feels satisfying but only two of them are useful and it felt like resources could have been put into some other part of the game.
The story is still somewhat simplistic, it won’t win any awards for storytelling, Knack and Lucas have to face off against a new enemy that has ties to the history of their world. It’s a more a reactionary tale and Knack and Lucas dealing with yet another world-changing event with them once again on the defensive. It’s a shame because Knack II had the opportunity to further explore the world they touched on in the first game. The story of the game even uses the history of the Crystal Wars as the backbone of this game but unfortunately it’s not utilised to its fullest potential instead it hits on very familiar story beats that players will have seen in Knack.
Knack II also doesn’t overstay it’s welcome as the game is of a similar length to its predecessor meaning a weekends worth of gaming with your best bud will be had. The pricing as well adds to that meaning it is a must have especially for any fans of old-school platformers.
In the end Knack II is a lot of the same that allowed me to fall in love with Knack. To save the game from being stale though there are enough changes to make this a solid addition to the Knack series and I look forward to the adventure continuing in a possible Knack III.