Dont Starve, so now its my turn to pick something out. I'm gonna go with Knack, Sony Japan's Mark Cerny produced launch title that didn't favour too well with most websites (PushSquare's 7/10 seeming to buck the trend) as my first Ps4 review. Now the fanfare of the next-gen system launch is out of the way, how does it really fare?
When you first fire up the campaign, your quickly introduced to the main cast of the game as the Human colonies are under threat from skirmishing orcs with advanced weaponry ie Tanks (think a less menacing version of the orcs in Warhammer40K and your about there) Humanity's top researchers band together to form an expedition to seek out the orcs home base and stop the incursions. Its here where everyone is introduced to Knack by Doctor Vargas, a consciousness born from the relics that are spread around the Earth. After a quick tutorial style level, the expedition to find the orcs begins! The narrative is surprisingly engaging as it twists & turns while exploring the origins of the relics, but its just a shame the characters within it aren't as engaging. The younger ones will enjoy its Pixar like presentation though and may even enjoy the characters. The story builds up over 13 chapters in total. Within each chapter is multiple sections that offers up the quirk of only saving at the start of a section & chapter, although the game seems to have a generous checkpoint system while playing. The checkpoint system becomes a godsend when playing at anything other than Casual due to the games challenging nature. Difficulty spikes seem rife, but most can be passed with ease if your suitably equipped & tactically dispose of the enemy groups. A wide variety of enemies is present, each with a different pattern of attack & weaponry which spruces up the games combat when multiple types of enemies are thrust together to take you on. Boss battles are also included, although infrequent, which require some patience and skill to navigate. Its not all combat & jumping though as the game occasionally throws in other things to do, the 'Stealth Knack' chapter springs to mind to add some variety. Straying from the linear path of the game to seek out hidden areas becomes a must in the end. Within this hidden spots could be Sunstone crystals (for powering up your special attacks), Relics (replenished health & grows Knack) or chests which could contain a gadget piece or an orb. Collect all the gadget pieces in a set will automatically build it and equip it for you, boosting the amount of sunstone energy you can carry or highlighting hidden areas for example. Shards can also be found that can change Knack into 'Vampire Knack' etc when all pieces are collected. All these can also be traded with friends, plus the Knacks Quest game on iOS & Android will allow you to collect pieces & shards without even being on your Ps4. A co-op mode is also thrown into the mix that features a novel way of playing by allowing the second player to use the Vita as a controller, they play as Robo Knack' which is a small robotic version of Knack that has the sigh-of-relief inducing ability to heal Knack (Helpful during difficulty spikes) Its a nice way to play with the younger members of your family whilst also helping you pass the more challenging encounters a tad easier. Once the campaign is done, replay value is there for those that are still keen on the title. New Game+ is always welcome, which allows you to then finish off finding those hidden pieces that you missed whilst keeping your upgrades from the previous game. A Time Attack mode is also unlocked allowing you to complete 13 stages ripped from the main game to post a score to leaderboards & a Coliseum Battles mode throws increasingly potent enemies at you in waves to test you combat skills. The old-school nature of the game means its more difficult than you'd expect when first playing, and this couple with the numerous hidden extras and bonuses means a fairly lenghly playtime could be achieved with multiple playthroughs.
Remote Play: With Knack focusing on primary use of the face buttons & analogues, it translates really well when using the Remote Play feature on Vita and ranks among the best as theres no quirky use of the rear touchpad to worry about.
The game excels most as a nostalgic trip back to the platformers of yesteryear that fans of platforming games in the 90's will find refreshing to play these days. A few quirks, unbalanced usage of its combat & platforming aspects with the occasional difficulty breeding frustration if unprepared take some of the sheen off the title, but theres a lot more to enjoy .A neat co-op feature & Pixar like presentation ensure the game is fun for the younger ones among us though, while the challenge & depth in combat can provide entertainment for those looking for a nostalgic trip. Knack isn't perfect, but its almost perfect marriage of accessibility & challenge ensures its one that gamers of all ages can enjoy.
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Footnote: Game has been played with the latest patch so my experiance may differ from those at launch.