Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is out in only a few short days and we here at GamEir will be reviewing it. So I’ve tasked myself with finishing every game I have in my library because I apparently need to. One of the games I have in my library is Knack which is a platformer/beat ’em up starring a hero made up of LEGO pieces. The story follows the titular character Knack, a creature “born” from relics, ancient pieces from a long-forgotten civilisation. He lives in a world where humans and goblins are at constant war. There is a stalemate in place due to the fact that goblins are scavengers while humans live in lush cities with high tech weaponry. This changes in the opening shot of Knack when a group of goblins all of a sudden seem to have amassed technology that rivals humanity. With this revelation, a group of adventurers is assembled (including Knack) to find out how this happened and to stop the cause. From there players navigate this little ball of bricks across islands, mountains, ancient ruins and so much more to discover the truth behind the goblins and possibly the truth behind his origin.
When first diving into the world of Knack I was instantly taken in by its thematic and visual charm. It has similarities to Mega Man, Astro Boy and Ratchet and Clank. The world is lush with colour and the characters are the kind of individuals you’d find on an old Saturday morning cartoon. It doesn’t allow for great character depth though when there are several logic jumps throughout the course of the game which will make you scratch your head in disbelief because they’re quite infantile. The story of the game is saved by an intriguing protagonist in the many shapes of Knack who is fun simply because of his design and cool charm.
The success of Knack as a game though falls on the gameplay and there is where the game drew me in. Gameplay has you utilise the left stick to move (duh) while the right stick allows Knack to dodge. It allows for a fast-paced fighting system as Knack can be surrounded by eight individuals with varying degrees of weaponry and abilities. On the point of enemies, there are many different variations for Knack to tackle. From bugs to ancient guardians to humans with guns, swords, and grenades you’ll never get bored with them design wise. The most fascinating aspect of Knack which affects every other element of the game is the fact that the titular hero can change size depending on how many relics he has stored on his body. He can range from no bigger than a small toddler to a behemoth that would tower over the tallest skyscrapers of the world. It changes not only how Knack is as a character, his voice changes as do his mannerisms, but his gameplay mechanics change as well. The character becomes more aggressive when battling enemies and not only that there are moments in the game where players can attach different types of materials to Knack that allow him access to different abilities.
He can absorb materials like ice, metal, and wood, but the most interesting material is a clear crystal which allows Knack to become invisible to sensors so there is a strategy involved when you gain this ability because when he is in this stealth form he’s weak and can be killed in one hit. So players have to be careful to shift between the two forms so that they aren’t overwhelmed while playing this section of the game.
It is elements like this that endeared this game to me and kept me coming back to finish it. Lengthwise Knack took me a weekend to finish so about 16+ hours and that was on Hard mode. The game itself isn’t particularly challenging for any seasoned gamers but to keep bringing you back for more there are further difficulty levels once you finish the game. As well as that there is an interesting online element where you can team up with other players of Knack to help you unlock various upgraded versions of Knack as well as gear for him that give him new abilities. It’s a clever idea except for the fact that you need a lot of friends playing this game to actually utilise this to its fullest extent. And because the game is five years old and I’ve two friends on my friend’s list who have played this game it was difficult to unlock even one item because the items you find are randomised. This means if you’re a completionist you may never finish this game 100%
When I came to the final battle of Knack and my journey came to its end I found myself content. This was a weekend well spent. I enjoyed the world, the characters though flawed were fun, and the gameplay reminded me of games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon platformers that shaped my childhood.